Viewers were shocked when Ellen Pompeo's character Meredith Grey was brutally attacked by a patient inside the series' fictional hospital on the mid-season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy."
Some fans felt that another incident may have been too much for the character, who watched her mother die in the third season and whose husband died after a car accident last season.
Even Pompeo thought Meredith's bad luck might have been too much in Thursday's episode.
"The first thing when [executive producer] Debbie [Allen] told me they were planning this episode, I said, 'So Meredith is going to be attacked again? Do you think the audience is going to go for that? Are they going to be able to handle that? Hasn't enough happened to Meredith?'" Pompeo said on the Shondaland Revealed podcast. "And she said, 'It's gonna be great. It's gonna be great. It's gonna be great.'"
"You don't think you're going to have to come up with 12 years of devastating things happening to one character," she continued. "However, I look at the news every day and read newspapers online, and people have had some pretty unfortunate series of events happen to them in life. Things that you never think would happen. People being at two different mass shootings. Random, weird things do happen. Earth is quite an interesting place. So we can always suspend our disbelief enough to be able to tell some story and learn some lessons."
Pompeo said her hesitations were also lessened when she discovered creator Shonda Rhimes fully backed Meredith's attack.
"If Shonda thinks something's a good idea, it's usually a good idea...so if she wants to do it I'm always like, 'OK! Let's go.'"
It also helped that the episode, titled "The Sound of Silence," was directed by Denzel Washington. "I was like, 'Oh yeah, let's go. Yes, let's do it,'" the actress recalled when she discovered the Oscar winner would helm the mid-season premiere.
Pompeo said working with the actor was "intimidating but in the most fun way. He's definitely one of the greatest living actors so to work with him in any capacity is a dream come true."