Sarah Paulson, Grey's Anatomy, Sally Pressman

ABC; Getty Images

Ellis Grey, have you had some work done?

Meredith Grey's (Ellen Pompeo) motheraka the root of all her problemslooks extremely different in the Grey's Anatomy season 11 premiere, but she hasn't gone under the knife...she's actually being played by a whole new actress!

E! News has confirmed that the long-running ABC hit medical drama has recast the role of young Ellis Grey for tonight's premiere. The role, previously played by American Horror Story's Sarah Paulson in flashbacks in season six, will now be played by Army Wives star Sally Pressman.

So what's the reason for the switcheroo?

According to TVLine (who first reported the recasting news), Paulson's AHS: Freak Show shooting schedule conflicted with returning to Grey's Anatomy, so she was unable to reprise her role. That's when Pressman boarded the show to take over for Paulson, having already guest-starred on Shonda Rhimes' second hit show Scandal as the sister-daughter (it's a thing) of Lisa Kudrows character. She will appear on two episodes of Grey's this fall, with young Richard Webber still being played by J. August Richards

But that's not all! Kate Burton, who played present day Ellis Grey in previous seasons of Grey's before her character died, was supposed to appear in the season 11 premiere in flashbacks, but her scenes have been cut from the episode. She is still slated to appear later this season, though.

Why are both of these casting shake-ups a big deal when the character of Ellis Grey is deceased? As revealed in the season 10 finale, Ellis and the former Chief of Surgery Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.) had an affair many years ago that resulted in a daughter that Ellis gave up for adoption. That child, Maggie (Kelly McCreary), just landed a job at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, surprising Richard (who clearly didn't know about her), and is bound to piss her half-sister Meredith off. The premiere will show, in flashbacks, the story of Ellis and Richard.

 Add a newly-discovered daughter and half-sister to the long list of reasons why working at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital is bad for your health.

Grey's Anatomy returns tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.