T.R. Knight: The Real Reason He Left ‘Grey’s Anatomy’
First Published: July 23, 2009 2:33 PM EDT Credit: Entertainment Weekly
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- T.R. Knight has finally opened up about his departure from “Grey’s Anatomy.”
And while fans may be up in arms over George O’Malley’s impending absence from Seattle Grace, Knight is very comfortable with his decision to walk away from the show after five seasons.
“There just comes a time when it’s so clear that moving on is the best decision,” the actor said in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Knight, who announced he was leaving the show in June, said he was at peace with his decision and said he hopes fans don’t get the wrong idea about why he walked away from the show – and a $14 million contract.
“From an outsider’s perspective, I get the [impression that] ‘He’s just a spoiled actor…he doesn’t know how good he has it,’” he continued. “There are a lot of people who would like to be in my position. But in the end, I need to be fulfilled in my work.”
Leading to Knight’s unhappiness on the show was the storyline he found surrounding his character in Season 4, when George cheated on his new bride Callie (Sara Ramirez) with his on-screen BFF Izzie (Katherine Heigl), something Knight said he struggled with.
And then in Season 5, when George’s screen time began to dwindle – appearing in only 48 minutes total in the first nine episodes compared to Sandra Oh’s 114 minutes, according to EW, Knight began to feel that his character had “expired.”
Knight also revealed a rift between himself and series executive producer Shonda Rhimes, which he described as a gradual “breakdown of communication” over the years with regards to the future of George O’Malley’s place at Seattle Grace.
“My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about George]. And with respect, I’m going to leave it at that,” he added.
However, it wasn’t just the on-screen developments that led to his ultimate decision to leave. Knight also said it was “IsaiahGate” – when his co-star at the time Isaiah Washington used an anti-gay slur towards Knight – that fueled his disappointment with Rhimes.
In fact, Knight claims she tried to discourage the actor from coming out following Washington’s remarks.
“I think she was concerned about having my statement come out so close to the [initial] event,” he told EW.
However, it’s a claim which Rhimes denied.
“I said, ‘If you want to come out, that’s awesome. We’ll totally support that,’” Rhimes told EW.
But when Knight finally revealed he was leaving the show, his on-screen and off-screen pal Heigl – whose return to the show was also up in the air until it was announced in June that she would be back — initially rejected the idea.
“I didn’t think it was the right decision. I felt like some of the problems could be worked through,” she told EW. “But by the time it came to fruition, I was [glad] for him because he was ready to go.”
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