For an actress who has reached the prestigious honor of having a show named after the character she plays (Dr. Meredith Grey on “Grey’s Anatomy”), Ellen Pompeo was a late bloomer: her first movie role was in 1999’s “8 ½ x 11” in which she plays “Human Resources Woman.” She was 30. Growing up in Boston, losing her mother at four, and tending bar in her 20s, Ellen came to acting really by accident. By securing enough commercials and small TV roles to keep going, she moved out to Los Angeles in 2001 and very soon was opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in “Moonlight Mile” in 2002, along with a small role in “Catch Me If You Can” that same year. Already off and running, 2003 saw Ellen in “Old School” and briefly as Matt Murdock’s secretary in “Daredevil.”
For 2005, Ellen was employed as the main character Meredith Grey in what would become ABC’s powerhouse drama “Grey’s Anatomy.” It was her true breakout role – the one everything else was leading towards – and she earned a Golden Globe nomination in 2007 for a Best Actress in a Television Series. The entire “Grey’s” cast earned a Screen Actor’s Guild as Best Ensemble in 2005. Earning $200,000 an episode for the 2007 – 2008 season, Ellen finally married her longtime fiancé Chris Ivery in November of that year in a civil ceremony in New York.
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Ellen on the Screen
Like many young actors and actresses, Ellen first got her start on television. And like many before her, the show was “Law & Order.” She transitioned to movies in 1999, though it would be a couple years before she landed roles in anything substantial. In 2002, Ellen was Bertie Knox in “Moonlight Mile” and Marci in “Catch Me If You Can.” 2003 saw Ellen as Karen Page in “Daredevil” and Nicole in “Old School.” She worked in a short film directed by Hank Azaria called “Nobody’s Perfect,” is opposite William Baldwin in “Art Heist,” and is Phoebe Elgin in “Life of the Party” in 2005 before snagging the lead in “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Ellen married record producer Chris Ivery on November 9, 2007 in an ultra-secret civil ceremony in New York. In October 2007, the National Italian American Foundation honored Ellen for her work in a gala in Washington, D.C.
On Dr. Grey:
“'She's smart enough to make her way through medical school but she can't figure out that she can't sleep with strangers all the time.”