“Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes has finally spoken out about the decision to let actor Isaiah Washington go from the popular ABC medical drama.
“It wasn't (hard to let him go),” Rhimes told TV Guide at the TCA’s this week. “It was a decision that was a long time coming, and it felt like it was the right decision for all of us.”
Washington was at the center of a controversy after sources revealed he used an anti-gay epitaph on set during an argument with co-star Patrick Dempsey last year. While it was originally suggested Washington used the word in reference to co-star T.R. Knight, who following the incident revealed he was gay, Isaiah has since claimed he was using the word on himself.
Washington used the slur again, backstage at the Golden Globes, while addressing the media alongside his cast while denying he said it in the first place.
Rhimes said ABC was not behind her decision to write off Washington’s character Dr. Preston Burke. Instead, she said it was down to the natural conclusion of his storyline.
“I wrote the season-ender exactly as I planned to write the season-ender,” she said. “What's kind of amazing is the season-ender finished the story of Preston Burke and really paid tribute to that character and to the talent of Isaiah Washington in a way that made sense. But it also went exactly where our show was planning to go anyway.”
Rhimes also told the Hollywood Reporter at the TCA’s that she wishes Washington, who has since been picked up as a guest star on NBC’s “Bionic Woman,” well.
“He's a very talented actor ... hope ‘Bionic Woman’ does well, just not as well as ‘Private Practice,’ ” she said, referring to the Kate Walsh-starring “Grey’s” spin-off.
Meanwhile Rhimes said despite removing Washington from “Grey’s,” the cast was ready to go when they returned to the Seattle Grace set this past month.
“They're a group of real professionals who really rose to the occasion last season,” she told TV Guide. “I feel like, no, we're a family. Nobody needed a pep talk,” she said.