EXCLUSIVE: Ellen Pompeo Not Sure If 'Grey's Anatomy' Fans Can 'Handle' Meredith's Brutal Attack

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Grey’s Anatomy 
returns on Thursday night, with a heart-stopping midseason premiere directed by none other than Denzel Washington!

In the episode, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is brutally attacked by a patient at Grey-Sloan Memorial and left fighting for her life.

“They did tell me what was going to happen to Meredith,” Pompeo dished to ET’s Nischelle Turner, “and I said, ‘I don't know if the fans can handle that.’”

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The actress admitted, however, that having Washington on set motivated and “inspired” her. “They hit me with ‘Oh, and Denzel is going to direct it,’ and I said, ‘OK, I’m down, I will do whatever you want me to do,” Pompeo said of the two-time Oscar winner.

“I mean, you have to bring your A-game for him,” she added. “It only took me three weeks to get over my starstruck-ness, and we had a great time.”

Sure enough, Pompeo didn’t seem starstruck at all in several Instagram shots she posted with Washington, who once played a TV doctor himself on St. Elsewhere.

“To say me and Denzel had a good time making [episode] 1209 is a bit of an understatement,” she captioned one pic. “This guy...aka #thetruth can boss me around anytime.”

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Pompeo credits co-star and Grey’s executive producer Debbie Allen, who plays Catherine Avery and has also directed nine episodes of the show, with getting her close friend interested in making his TV directorial debut on the Shonda Rhimes medical drama, though Allen was much humbler about her role in convincing Washington.

“Well, convinced is not exactly [the word]. I offered him and I asked him,” Allen told ET. “He was at a place where he was so open and exploring, and he said, ‘My wife loves it, she knows every character.’ I said, ‘That'd be your Cliff Notes.’”

Washington was clearly prepared for the show, and the cast was more than happy to have him, after they got over their nerves, of course.

“Dude's got a few statues sitting on his shelf,” said Jason George, who plays Ben Warren, with a laugh. “You kind of don't want to, you know, mess it up that day.”

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Things are also changing on-set for Grey’s star Jessica Capshaw, who recently announced that she was expecting her fourth child with husband Christopher Gavigan. Time to hide that baby bump with strategic blocking and prop placement!

“It just started today!” Capshaw told ET during our set visit. “I thought I was so petite, and all of a sudden we did a rehearsal for camera and they're like, let me just move this table over here. And I was like, that table's in front of me!”

Grey’s Anatomy
airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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