Ellen Pompeo has made headlines recently for talking about how the set of Grey’s Anatomy was a “toxic environment” that had her wanting to escape for several years. Ultimately, though, she decided to stay, and she says the show — which recently completed its 15th season — has become a much happier place to work. How did she make it through those rough early years? Well, her on-screen relationship with Dr. McDreamy certainly helped, but when we spoke to Pompeo at the time, she gave a lot of credit to Shonda Rhimes and the stories she generated for Meredith and McDreamy. (Click on the media bar below to hear Ellen Pompeo)

Grey’s Anatomy returns for its 16th season on ABC this fall.

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