Grey's Anatomy fans were shocked when T.R. Knight made the decision to leave the cast of one of TV's biggest shows. They probably shouldn't be.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the 34-year-old reveals what led him to leave Grey's Anatomy, and says it was a long time coming.
The show debuted in 2005, turning Knight into a breakout star who received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2007.
But it was an incident in late 2006 that changed everything.
Co-star Isaiah Washington referred to Knight as a "f----t" during an on-set argument with Patrick Dempsey, the media caught wind of it, Knight came out of the closet, and Washington was fired from the show the following summer.
That's the short version. T.R. reveals that he does not directly fault executive producer Shonda Rhimes for how she handled the situation, she discouraged him from coming out and a gradual communication breakdown ensued.
Knight returned to work on Season 4, but struggled a story in which George cheated on wife Callie (Sara Ramirez) with Izzie (Katherine Heigl).
By this past season, the show's fifth, Knight's character George O’Malley all but vanished from the show. Feeling that the character had run its course, and that Rhimes would not give him straight answers, he asked to leave.
"My five-year experience proved I could not trust any answer that was given [about George]," he explains. "With respect, I'm going to leave it at that."
T.R. Knight knows he’s taking a risk walking away from a top 10 show and a $14 million contract: "From an outsider's perspective, I get the [impression that] 'Oh, he’s just a spoiled actor ... he doesn’t know how good he has it.'"
"There are a lot of people who would like to be in my position. But in the end, I need to be fulfilled in my work, and there comes a time when it’s so clear that moving on is the best decision. I have no doubt this was right."