‘Grey’s Anatomy’: T. R. Knight Almost Didn’t Get Into the Audition for George O’Malley

T. R. Knight played the beloved George O’Malley on Grey’s Anatomy for five seasons before he left the show entirely. It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing George, but he almost didn’t even get a chance to audition for the part. 

George was one of our favorite original cast members along with Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Justin Chambers, and Chandra Wilson.

'Grey's Anatomy' star T. R. Knight as George O'Malley
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star T. R. Knight as George O’Malley | Bob D’Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Why did T.R. Knight decide to leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

Knight’s decision to leave Grey’s Anatomy stemmed from a traumatic issue with one of his co-stars. In 2007, Isaiah Washington — who played Preston Burke — reportedly used a homophobic slur to refer to Knight while on set. After the incident, Washington was fired from the show. 

RELATED: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Where Is George O’ Malley Now, and Why Did He Leave the Show?

However, Knight’s decision to leave came two years after the incident. He left in 2009, citing a “breakdown in communication” with showrunner Shonda Rhimes. He also attributed his move to his role’s decreased screen time and the conflict with Burke that forced him to come out as gay publicly. 

“Beautiful things come from ugly times,” Knight said recently to the Daily Beast.

In the interview, Knight revealed that he met his husband shortly after leaving the show, so everything worked out for the best.

Why did T. R. Knight have a difficult time getting the audition for George O’Malley on ‘Grey’s Anatomy?’

“I liked the script so much,” Knight said during an interview at the Paley Center. “I felt that it was a good fit. Instead of just being a doofus, there was also a side where he got really hurt. I really liked that Shonda showed both sides.”

Knight flew out to Los Angeles to audition for the pilot season of Grey’s Anatomy. He was living in New York at the time, and almost didn’t even get a chance to audition for George O’Malley.

“It was difficult for me to get into the audition,” he continues. “I had an agent fight for me. I will be forever grateful to him. He is the one who allowed me to get into the room.”

Knight was so happy that someone stood up for him. He felt that it was harder for him to get auditions because he was not a “pedigree” actor.

“There are thousands of actors who could play George, and probably thousands who could play it better,” Knight concluded. 

His fellow co-stars disagreed that anyone could play George better than Knight.

What is T. R. Knight doing now, since leaving ‘Grey’s Anatomy?’

On Oct. 5, 2013, Knight married Patrick B. Leahy, a ballet dancer, and writer, in Hudson, New York. The two met over 10 years ago, and Knight often shares on social media that he couldn’t be happier. The couple has two dogs named Dingan and Traveler.

Knight’s most recent work includes starring in a miniseries called The Comey Rule. The show is an adaptation of James Comey’s autobiography, A Higher Loyalty. Filming began in Toronto in November 2019. The miniseries will debut on Sept. 27, 2020, over two nights on Showtime.