‘Grey’s Anatomy’s’ Ellen Pompeo Played Jake Gyllenhaal’s Love Interest in This Film

Ellen Pompeo, who plays the legendary Dr. Meredith Grey on ABC’s hit show Grey’s Anatomy, has some film credits to her name. Though she’s been on the longest-running medical drama in television history since its launch in 2005, the actress appeared in a few movies alongside some well-known celebs. One of them was Jake Gyllenhaal in this 2002 film.

Dustin Hoffman, Jake Gyllenhaal, (F): Ellen Pompeo, writer/director Brad Silberling and Susan Sarandon | Amy Graves/WireImage

Before they were famous

Some may remember Gyllenhaal making his screen debut as Billy Crystal’s son in City Slickers. He went on to some substantial roles in films that won more critical acclaim than box office bucks, including October Sky and Donnie Darko. Gyllenhaal’s star-making role in Brokeback Mountain opposite Heath Ledger launched him into stardom.

Pre-Grey’s, Pompeo had some small guest appearances on shows such as Law & Order, Get Real, and Strong Medicine. Though she worked with some notable names including Steven Spielberg, her cinematic roles did did not yield big box office.

A serious role

Directed by Brad Silberling in the 2002 film Moonlight Mile, Pompeo played Bertie Knox, the potential love interest of Joe Nast, Gyllenhall’s character. According to RogerEbert.com, the movie’s melancholy premise was inspired by Silberling’s loss of his fiancé, actress Rebecca Schaeffer of My Sister Sam fame, who was murdered by a fan in 1989. Bertie’s character had also loved a lost one, giving her a unique connection to Nast.

The film starred several Hollywood heavy hitters, including Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, and Holly Hunter. Pompeo received accolades from critics, such as this review from RogerEbert.com, saying, “Pompeo, a newcomer, plays Bertie with a kind of scary charisma that cannot be written, only felt… She is so vulnerable in this movie, so sweet as she senses Joe’s pain and wants to help him.”

A chance meeting

Pompeo shared that she had met Gyllenhaal before her audition for the film role, and apparently there were fireworks between the two. “I was…in the waiting room and the director and this guy, Jake Gyllenhaal, who I had never heard of — no one had ever heard of him at that point — walked past me,” she revealed, according to Today. “I [had] my head down…so I didn’t get a look at Jake.”

Later, when she went to read for the part of Bertie, she was stunned to see Gyllenhaal’s familiar face. “I had met Jake a couple of weeks prior on the sidewalk! I walked into the room and I saw Jake and I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s you!'” Pompeo recalled.

Pompeo had clearly made an impression on Gyllenhaal, with him giving her a very telling compliment. “We sort of bumped into each other. He told me I was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen,” the actress shared.

Gyllenhaal is 10 years younger than Pompeo, though she didn’t deny the attraction between them. “I said, ‘He’s 12! And maybe we’ll see each other again and I should leave!’ There were sparks, but we just bolted,” she said.

Silberling picked up on the pair’s chemistry and asked them if they had a history.  “We were like, ‘No, we don’t know each other. We made love to each other not speaking on the sidewalk, but we don’t know each other!'” Pompeo joked.

The two brought that energy to the screen making for a convincing romance in the film.

Watch Ellen Pompeo in Grey’s Anatomy this fall!