T.R. Knight: Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes didn’t want me to come out

In May we reported on an interview in Entertainment Weekly with Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes sounded haughty, in my opinion, and made several statements about how she has no regrets about the plotlines and never reads the press on her show. She also said she wouldn’t have done anything differently because “That would mean I have to admit that we made some mistakes, and I’m not going to do that.”

Spoiler that you probably know already is below
Now that it’s known that T.R. Knight won’t be returning to Grey’s, he’s explaining his decision to Entertainment Weekly. It was all about the fact that his character, George, was given hardly any screen time last season. Although Knight doesn’t directly say this, he heavily hints that the reduced screen time for his character had everything to do with the fact that he came out of the closet following the much-talked about feud with Isaiah Washington. Knight tells EW that Rhimes didn’t want him to come out as gay, although she denies that this is true at all. He’s also miffed that it took Rhimes a full three months to issue any kind of statement about the anti-gay slur that Isaiah hurled at him on set, prompting a fight with their co-star Patrick Dempsey and Isaiah’s eventual firing.

The openly gay star says that he made his decision to leave the hit ABC show after executive producer Shonda Rhimes drastically cut his screen time: He appeared for just 48 minutes in the first nine episodes of season five.

“There just comes a time when it’s so clear that moving on is the best decision,” Knight says in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands tomorrow. The actor cites a “breakdown in communication” with Rhimes and says he asked to be let out of his $14 million contract three years early.

“My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about his character, George],” states Knight, who says George evolved into someone he didn’t understand or even respect (the character slept with his best friend, Izzie — played by Katherine Heigl — while he was married to Sara Ramirez’s character, Callie). Knight also resented his noticeable lack of screen time. “It didn’t seem like an ebb to me,” he says. “No other series regular’s character had ever disappeared like mine did this past season.”

But things first started going sour on set for Knight after the infamous “Isaiahgate” incident, in which then-cast member Isaiah Washington referred to him with an anti-gay slur during a heated conversation with co-star Patrick Dempsey. It took creator Rhimes three months to publicly condemn Washington, which Knight calls “frustrating.”

However, Knight says complications arose between him and Rhimes immediately after the incident, when he decided to respond to the sticky situation by outing himself. The actor says Rhimes was among those who wanted him to remain in the closet — though in the EW article, the creator herself denies this.

When Knight was asked to appear on season six of the show — in flashbacks — he flatly refused, opting to move forward with other projects. In September, he’ll headline a stage production of “Parade” at L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum and in February will hit Broadway in the Stanley Tucci-directed revival of “Lend Me a Tenor.”

It’s a big decision to walk away from a hit show — and a huge paycheck — but Knight says he knew it was time to go.
“There are a lot of people who would like to be in my position,” he says. “But in the end, I need to be fulfilled in my work — that’s more important than the money.”

[From NY Daily News]

So was Knight’s lack of plot some kind of payback from Rhimes for coming out? Whatever the reason, there must have been some issues between Knight and the producers that prompted them to marginalize his character. It took over seven months after that incident with Isaiah Washington in October, 2006, in which he called Knight the slur “f” word and then choked and pushed Patrick Dempsey, for him to get fired. Someone must have been pulling for the guy. We heard about another on-set fight, between Dr. McDreamy Dempsey and Dr. McSteamy Eric Dane, in February, 2007. Add in all the crap that Katherine Heigl said about the show and it sounds like a tense, difficult set. (Granted it’s hard to take anything she says seriously since she complains about basically everything.) With a creator that refuses to admit any mistakes or take feedback at all, it’s no wonder.

Knight is shown on 3/28/09. Credit: RAM/Fame Pictures


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25 Responses to “T.R. Knight: Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes didn’t want me to come out”

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  1. Fiestarter says:

    Am I the only one that just hates this show? I tried to watch it but never was able to see what all of the hype was about. The off camera stories about the cast were far more interesting than the actual show.

  2. Ursula says:

    Can’t stand the show, never have, can’t stand Heigl or TR both self absorbed twits.

  3. 88Modesty88 says:

    I don’t hate it but have stopped watching — it has become ridiculous. The off-screen goings-on kinda makes Grey’s more difficult to watch.

  4. DD says:

    ya fiestarter, they should turn the behind the scenes footage into a series instead.

  5. wif says:

    I don’t get this business about complaining when you don’t “like” what happens to your character. You’re an actor! It has nothing to do with you!. I do a ton of acting in my community theatre (for fun) and have had to portray a bunch of characters I don’t like. But it’s cool because you’re *acting*! Soap opera stars seem to do it for 10, 20 even 30 years in a row, sometimes.

    It sounds like he has some great jobs lined up though, so congrats to him on that front.

  6. OXA says:

    I am glad he is gone, he and Heigel are 2 ungrateful idiots who were given the opportunity of a lifetime and have continued to piss and moan about their lot. They have both made bucketloads of money and been privy to so many freebies and other opportunities and becoming household names. Now they have the balls to bad mouth their benefactor.
    I am sick to death of them both and their whining.

  7. Kait says:

    I’m only slightly embarrassed about admitting that I’m a huge fan of this show. Well, I used to be. It has just taken a turn for the bizarre and lame for the past couple seasons. And he’s right that his character started doing things that made absolutely no sense for the personality that he portrayed in the first few seasons. I’m sad he left the show but I can’t blame him at all. To be stuck in such a crappy role and know he’s disappointing the fans is a terrible position to be in.

  8. really says:

    I use to be obsessed with this show but stopped watching after the writer’s strike…and all the crap with Izzy seeing ghosts was too ridiculous. It should be canceled. Glad to see TR gone, I didn’t think he was a great actor.

  9. sarcra says:

    I used to really like this show, in the first two seasons especially, but the writing has definitely gone downhill. George/Izzie was an awful direction to take. I used to watch every week and now I never tune in.

  10. Lem says:

    That was Oct. 2006 -3 years ago.

    Washington should have been fired and under scrutiny for choking McDreamy. You don’t choke a person. Yet all the hullabaloo was over a word, a WORD that gays use themselves to put each other down. By all means you don’t hear Dempsey even mention getting choked.

    Yes Georgie’s plot line suffered. Yes they didn’t give the newly outed guy a hot straight romance. The made his ex- sorta gay instead. Yes he’s had jack to do for a few seasons. Make that the focus for leaving T.R. not a word somebody yelled in the heat of the moment 3 years ago.
    My anger is not all directly related to T.R. that’s not entirely the issue. P.C. crap is just ruining the States. It stops conversations and pigeonholes entire groups as off limits. Fear and guilt complexes of middleclass crackers,
    My F word uses a big F. this little f word is no f word at all.

  11. Iggles says:

    Isiah left after season 3. George had A LOT of screen time in season 4! He had a full fledge affair with Izzie!

    T.R. is lying. His lack of screen time in season 5 is not directly related to Isiah-gate. It’s clear he had a major falling out with Rhimes, which is why he was barely seen last season.

    Personally, now that TR is gone, I think they should bring Isiah back. He’s a great actor and after he left the show was missing something.

  12. Lem says:

    a little bit of the anger is reserved for Celebitchy, who obviously think I need to be monitored like a naughty child today

  13. Ana says:

    I think the show started sucking after Isiah left. Burke was one of my favorite characters. I was extremely disappointed in Isiah after the gay slur.

  14. amanda47 says:

    You know who never complains? Ellen Pompeo. She’s shifted in and out of the center, gotten married, is pregnant and just does her job.

  15. dubdub2000 says:

    “No other series regular’s character had ever disappeared like mine did this past season”?!

    If nothing else, that statement alone shows what kind of an idiot this guy is.

    He’ll find out in a year’s time what we all already know: that his 15 minutes are over and done with.

    All the actors on the show except for Ellen Pompeo have gotten way too big for their britches. They are mere actors who got lucky, a lot of them late in life. They should be grateful and get their big fat paycheck and shut up instead of all acting like primadonnas.

  16. hmm says:

    I am sick of TR Knight and his constant whining about his screen time and his homosexuality. His attempt to portray Rhimes as a homophobe is ridiculous, considering that she cast him, knowing he was gay. He is as ungrateful as Heigl and both their careers will suffer because no one likes or appreciates disloyalty.

  17. CeeJay says:

    It WAS a tense, difficult set because T.R. Knight and Katherine Heigl’s antics caused it to be that way. The two became “best” friends because they bonded over their general discontent with management of the show.

    So Shonda and other management got sick of it and first they tried to edge out Katherine Heigl by demeaning her character’s storyline in 2007. When that didn’t work they targeted T.R. Knight last year. Wullaah! Finally He’s out. She’s in. And the bitching still continues.

    These two are quite a pair, constantly bitching about it all, like we care and our lives depend on what they think. t Meanwhile Isaiah Washington is quietly making amends for his indiscretions through his outreach efforts with GLAAD.

    T.R. Knight only cares about being “out” with his sexuality when it benefits him in the press. Katherine Heigl is no better. They’re both a couple of drama queens who team up together to make other people’s lives miserable, like high school bullies.

    I’m with Shonda Rhimes. I don’t care who T.R.Knight sleeps with, and neither should you.

  18. Aspie says:

    If it wasn’t for Shonda’s strong creativity this show would have never existed to begin with and TR or Katherine wouldn’t have the level of success that they enjoy now.

    Between slamming Shonda, people seem to forget that KEY piece of information…

  19. Aspie says:

    It AMAZES how people tend to harp on poor Isiah Washington, who was and is still a great actor. TR has alot to learn about acting and should watch some of Isiah’s films for tips.

    And it was never PROVEN that Isiah “choked” Patrick Dempsey. All was forgotten about that incident. Why must people continue to rehash that? Get over it!

    And Isiah continues to work with GLAAD yet never receives any press about his work. All the while TR continues to whine about the show and still gets paid to continue being a bad actor on the show.

    It’s just sickening and I feel so bad for Isiah. I hope he finds a new show where he can showcase his talent and get the respect that he certainly deserves.

  20. notsoanonymous says:

    I still think T.R. looked amazing the last time we all got to see him as George and I STILL love this show.

  21. Grace says:

    Agreed! After coming out, he still had his dad’s cancer story line, Callie, the affair, repeating his internship…the affair just backfired horribly and I wish they had marginalized Heigl’s character instead. T.R., please, this is unbecoming behavior. This is KATHERINE HEIGL/ISAIH WASHINGTON level crap. You’re better than this!

  22. javelin says:

    Sounds like they cut his screen time because they thought in revealing his sexual orientation he was no longer ‘believable’ as a straight guy– I would be pissed too. ABC sounds homophobic, in my opinion.

  23. TrevMax says:

    Why are people writing about how much they hate the show? If you hate the show so much why are you reading the article and why in the name of God would you take the time to post how much you hate it? It really doesn’t make any sense. Seriously. No. Think about it. Seriously.

  24. wwtfn says:

    @TrevMax: People write about how much they like – or dislike – a show, a celebrity, or a film because handlers behind-the-scenes read it and then convey those sentiments back to their employers. It helps to keep the PR folk quite busy.

  25. Professional Whiners Not Actors says:

    T.R. had his storyline truncated because he and Heigl began tag-teaming the show with their criticisms and both were quite vociferous about their desire to quit it.

    That first season was all about George & Izzie, but it wasn’t until they took their personal squabbles to the press that they forced the producer’s hand. The writers started rearranging storylines to compensate for the fact that those two narcisscists were publicly threatening to quit the show all the time.

    Someone desperately needs to inform those two that the world does not revolve around them.

    I absolutely loved GA, thought it was one of the most intelligent shows TV had seen since the West Wing. However, ever since all the Heigl/Knight/Washington drama I’ve boycotted it. The way those events started unfolding, I began wondering if Heigl and her gang hadn’t deliberately provoked that situation with Washington because they were envious of his screen time. All of their ensuing antics have confirmed it for me.