Ellen Pompeo has said she wanted to leave Grey’s Anatomy many times during the early years because of the “toxic work environment”.
The actress, 49, has starred as Dr Meredith Grey in the medical drama for 15 series and has signed up for two more.
During a talk with actress Taraji P Henson for Variety magazine, Pompeo was asked if she ever had a moment where she wanted to quit.
“There were many moments,” she replied.
“It’s funny: I never wanted off the bus in the year that I could get off.
“The first 10 years we had serious culture issues, very bad behaviour, really toxic work environment.
“But once I started having kids, it became no longer about me. I need to provide for my family.”
She went on: “At 40 years old, where am I ever going to get this kind of money? I need to take care of my kids.
“But after season 10, we had some big shifts in front of the camera, behind the camera.
“It became my goal to have an experience there that I could be happy and proud about, because we had so much turmoil for 10 years.
“My mission became, this can’t be fantastic to the public and a disaster behind the scenes.
“(Grey’s Anatomy creator) Shonda Rhimes and I decided to rewrite the ending of this story. That’s what’s kept me.”
Actor Patrick Dempsey played Pompeo’s love interest Dr Derek Shepherd for 11 seasons before leaving in 2015.
She told Variety: “Patrick Dempsey left the show in season 11, and the studio and network believed the show could not go on without the male lead.
“So I had a mission to prove that it could.
“I was on a double mission.”
Pompeo was in the news last year when it was reported that she had negotiated a 20 million US dollars (£16 million) pay deal.
She told Variety that when she started out Dempsey “was being paid almost double what I was in the beginning”.
“He had a television quote. I had never done TV,” she said.
“’He’s done 13 pilots’. Well, none of them have gone.
“I didn’t even realise until we were renegotiating season three. No one was offering that up.”