Earlier this month, E! News reported that Ellen Pompeo—who plays Dr. Meredith Grey on the long-running ABC medical drama—would be cutting back her role for the show's upcoming 19th season, and will only appear in eight out of the season's 20-plus episodes. Her co-star—who stars as Dr. Owen Hunt—defended her decision exclusively on E! News' Daily Pop.
"Ellen has been the captain of this ship all these years, and she's about to start producing, so she needed to make room in her schedule for that," he told Daily Pop's Francesca Amiker at the 2022 HCA TV Awards on August 14.
Pompeo is executive producing and starring in a new Hulu limited series, which follows the true story of a couple who accuses their Ukrainian adopted daughter of being an adult and secretly conning them.
Plus, as McKidd pointed out, it's not like the series will be fully without Meredith Grey, saying, "The fact that she's not leaving the show and is just gonna scale it back a bit—what I think is beautiful about it is that it shows her love for the show still."
Pompeo isn't the only cast member whose role on the show is changing. Season 18 ended on a cliffhanger for Owen, as he, wife Teddy (Kim Raver) and their kids left the country on a plane.
As for whether fans will see him return next season? "It's a little too early to say," McKidd teased. "All I can say is we have these new amazing interns, who are this kind of new blood in the show."
Grey's Anatomy was among many hit shows honored at the awards ceremony, including This Is Us, which concluded its six-season run in May. And while star Mandy Moore—who starred as matriarch Rebecca Pearson—was honored with an acting nomination and this year's Virtuoso Award at the ceremony, fans were shocked when she was snubbed a Best Actress nomination for the 2022 Emmys.
Her co-star and onscreen son Justin Hartley—who played Kevin Pearson—praised Moore for her talent on and off-camera, telling Daily Pop on the red carpet, "I think she's a rare talent and I think she's a rare person."
"I will tell you something," he added, "if you call Mandy Moore and you ask her for advice, she will either give you advice or if she doesn't know anything about what you're asking, she will find somebody that does and put you in contact with them and make your life better. She is like a therapist, actress, mother—what can't she do? She's incredible."
Check out more of Daily Pop's HCA TV Awards red carpet interviews in the full video above.
The second Annual HCA TV Awards streamed on August 14th.