‘Grey’ star takes temperature of celebrity

Worthy of attention: Ellen Pompeo

Best part about working in TV? “I get to really start with Meredith somewhere and stay with her, hopefully for a few years. By the sixth season, I may be ready to cut my hands off, but right now the idea of watching her grow is appealing to me.”

Hardest part about working in TV? “The physicality of shooting an hourlong drama is extremely grueling. You get quite tired, which works for the character. You constantly have to be thinking about fatigue and it sometimes gets in the way of memorizing lines.”

Favorite scene this past season?
“I think I have to say the opening scene when Patrick Dempsey and I wake up in my house and have that awkward moment, because I never really had that happen before. It was sort of interesting for me because I got to have a fake one-night stand.”

TiVo season passes? “I love ‘The Sopranos’ and I’m a news junkie. It’s like a train wreck. I can’t stop watching it. I’m obsessed with the BBC World News.”

The other day, Ellen Pompeo was talking about her fascination with a news feature in a magazine — “the one with Angelina Jolie on the cover.”

Pompeo did so during that peculiar moment in which a career has launched and all that’s left is for the smoke to clear. Because soon will come the day when Pompeo reads another magazine with interest — the one with her on the cover.

Asked if she is ready to jump from actor to celebrity, Pompeo seems genuinely caught off-guard.

“That’s the strangest question,” says Pompeo.

Just as Calista Flockhart became the face of instant hit “Ally McBeal,” Ellen Pompeo has placed a similar stamp on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” in the role of Dr. Meredith Grey.

The first-time series regular, who previously had roles in films “Old School” and “Moonlight Mile,” leads a large ensemble on the medical drama that quickly established itself as a top-10 hit after its late-March debut.

Pompeo landed her role courtesy of a curious twist. Having screen-tested for a different ABC pilot, Pompeo got rejection with a 24-hour request: If she could wait a day, there was this part as a trying-to-have-it-all first-year surgical intern that the Alphabet brass thought her perfect for.

“When they say that, you think, ‘Oh yeah, they’re being nice,’ ” Pompeo recalls. “But sure enough, the script was at my door a day later. … They said, ‘This is yours if you want it.’ ”

Pompeo fell hard for the character. “I’m a very emotional person,” Pompeo says. “I thank God for acting for that reason. It has really given me an outlet for that emotion that I desperately need. I think Meredith has a really rich, full life and, as an actor, that’s really the best gift you can have.

“From page one she had things to do. Usually, I read stacks of scripts, and the female character shows up on page 46 and kind of looks good and stands around and doesn’t have much to do. Meredith had something to do, somewhere to go and somewhere to be after that.”

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