'Grey's' Star: I Felt I Was Treated Like an N-Word

Isiah Washington on what caused him to use f-word.

February 10, 2009, 3:25 PM

July 3, 2007 — -- First there was McSteamy, then there was McDreamy, and now there's McBlamey.

Isaiah Washington, who formerly played a surgeon on "Grey's Anatomy," not only blamed his co-star Patrick Dempsey on "Larry King Live" for his erupting on set with a homophobic slur, but he said he felt he was treated like "an N-word."

Concerning a heated argument Washington had with Dempsey over his tardiness, Washington told King, "I wish I would have said, 'I wish you didn't treat me like an N-word,' because that's how I felt. That's how I felt."

Washington said it was Dempsey repeatedly arriving late to the set that got him worked up in the first place, and that T.R. Knight, who plays George O'Malley, had nothing to do with the argument.

According to Washington, Dempsey arrived late yet again and refused to shoot without their co-star Ellen Pompeo.

Washington responded, "Well, I don't need Ellen. I can act."

King asked what he meant by this, and Washington reassured viewers and King that this meant implicitly that Dempsey can't act.

As Washington sees it, this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Washington told King, "He got un-...became unhinged, face-to-face, he sprayed spittle in my face...And I'm asking why is he screaming at me. 'Get out of my face'...And by that time I pushed him out of my face and it just took off from there."

Washington added, "I began to say a lot of things I'm not really proud of...I said, 'There's no way you're going to treat me like a B-word or a P-word or the F-word. You can't treat me this way in front of the crew.'"

Washington also admitted he did not think about the repercussions of using the F-word.

"Before this took off in this direction, in terms of sexual orientation, it meant something -- it meant, to me, someone who is being weak," added Washington.

First Washington blamed Dempsey for his outburst. Then he went on to blame the media for misreporting the incident.

"It was printed erroneously in the National Enquirer," said Washington. "The New York Post picked it up and then it was worldwide. And anytime you allegedly reportedly say something that is -- it's going to spread like wildfire on the Internet."

Washington said that the actors reconciled after the scuffle.

"We apologized after we went in the room and we cleared up what I implied or whatever, out of frustration...We were men solving this issue," said Washington.

But the story doesn't end there.

Everyone wanted to get involved from the NAACP to Jesse Jackson, and Washington told King, "I don't want to racialize this thing, you know?"

And how Knight got involved, Washington said, was the "$5 million question."

Knight appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and said Washington referred to him as a "faggot."

Washington insists this is a lie and that Knight misrepresented himself.

Both Dempsey's reps and Knight's reps, King said on the air, declined to comment or respond to Washington's remarks in any way on the show.

Washington said he grew up in a gay community and has gay friends, and that he made an error in judgment. He regrets that the whole world, including these friends, saw it.

When King asked if he admits it was wrong, Washington shouted, "Unbelievable! Yes!"

Washington told King he thinks Knight should have been addressed but he wasn't.

Washington maintained his cool stoicism until King asked him if he'd heard from any of the cast members. "Yes, I got a ...wonderful e-mail from Sandra Oh from Spain," said Washington, as he fought back tears.

Washington took a few questions from viewer e-mails, and one of them asked what he learned from all this. Washington said, "Work harder...Just keep your mouth shut."

There are always two -- and in this case multiple -- sides to any story. What happened on the set of Seattle's Grace Hospital we will probably never know.

But we can all learn something. Words can be mightier than the pen and the sword. Washington will continue new projects and the media will have to wait and see if his career post-"Grey's" flourishes or if it ends up scrubbed.

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