Ellen Pompeo

Grey’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo is starring in a stranger-than-fiction Hulu series based on a real-life Orphan horror story

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Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo is stepping back from the long-running medical drama for a brand new TV series inspired by a chilling real-life story.

As any fan of TV’s longest-running primetime medical drama Grey’s Anatomy will attest, the show would be nothing without the brilliant Ellen Pompeo. The beloved star (and executive producer), who has anchored the hit series as Dr Meredith Grey for the last 17 years, is undoubtedly one of the main reasons we keep tuning in to see what twists and turns lie in store.

Earlier this week, though, we learned that Pompeo will be scaling back her involvement in the show going forward, appearing in just eight episodes of the 19th season. But while that evidently means a quite a bit less Ellen Pompeo hanging around at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, that doesn’t mean she’s disappearing off our screens for good.

According to Deadline, Pompeo’s shift away from Grey’s Anatomy coincides with a brand new TV project with Hulu. The as-yet-untitled limited series, you’ll be intrigued to know, is inspired by the stranger-than-fiction story of Ukranian-born Natalia Grace and her US adoptive parents, who claimed that she was an adult “sociopath” pretending to be a child.

If that story rings a bell, you might be thinking of the 2009 cult-favourite horror movie Orphan about the secretive adoptive child Esther with a predilection for murder – which, by the way, is getting a petrifying prequel later this month

The true crime drama will chronicle “the story of a Midwestern couple who adopts what they believe is an eight-year-old girl with a rare form of dwarfism,” according to a release from Hulu.

“But as they begin to raise her alongside their three biological children, they slowly start to believe she may not be who she says she is. As they question her story, they’re confronted with hard questions of their own about the lengths they’re willing to go to defend themselves, falling into a battle that’s fought in the tabloids, the courtroom, and ultimately their marriage.”

Ellen Pompeo
Ellen Pompeo as Dr Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy

Pompeo, who is starring as the mother in the new series and executive producing via her ABC Signature-based production company Calamity Jane, has enlisted the very best help to create the show. Katie Robbins (The Affair) has created the series and will serve as writer and executive producer, while Erin Levy (Mad Men) serves as showrunner and executive producer. 

The series marks Pompeo’s first major acting role outside of the Grey’s Anatomy franchise since the 2005 feature Life Of The Party. The project has been in the works at Hulu for a year and a half, so it doesn’t look as though we’ll have to wait long before we see Pompeo deliver what will undoubtedly be another compelling small screen performance.

Ellen Pompeo
Ellen Pompeo will star in a new Hulu series based on a chilling real-life story

Grey’s Anatomy fans need not worry about the future of the show, though, because according to The Hollywood Reporterthere are no plans for this to be the final season. Happily, Pompeo will also continue to be the show’s primary narrator for the majority of the episodes.

In the meantime, there are exactly three months to go until the next instalment of Grey’s Anatomy lands on 6 October. That means we’ve got plenty of time to rewatch Dr Meredith in her scrubs before she goes on sabbatical.

Images: Getty

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is Stylist's Entertainment Editor whose specialist interests include pop culture, LGBTQ+ identity and lore.