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Ellen Pompeo may be stepping back from her prominent role on Grey’s Anatomy.

But a close friend and colleague is now stepping up to defend the actress.

As you may have heard by now, Pompeo will only appear in a handful of episodes this fall, winter and spring on Grey’s Anatomy.

According to various sources, the star behind the beloved drama’s title character will only be included in a total of eight Season 19 installments.

Crazy, right?!?

And most certainly upsetting to those who have continually made Grey’s Anatomy one of the most popular shows on television for nearly two decades now.

But Kevin McKidd, who portrays Dr. Owen Hunt on the series, wants to make sure no one is speaking ill of Pompeo in the wake of this bombshell.

“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,” the actre told Daily Pop’s Francesca Amiker at the 2022 HCA TV Awards on August 14.

It’s true:

Pompeo is executive producing and starring in a new Hulu limited series, which chronicles the true story of a couple who accuses their Ukrainian adopted daughter of being an adult and secretly conning them.

As McKidd notes, after ALL this time, it’s not like Pompeo is even saying goodbye to the show that made her rich and famous.

“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,” he explained.

Photo via ABC

Over the past several weeks, Grey’s Anatomy has added newcomers Niko Terho, Adelaide Kane, Midori Francis, Harry Shum Jr. and Alexis Floyd, all of whom have McKidd buzzing.

“We have this amazing group of new interns, brilliant, young, vibrant actors who are really passionate,” he told People Magazine at the aforementioned event, adding:

“It’s almost like we’re going back to the beginning, if that makes sense. We’re not really rebooting, but it’s definitely that pilot episode when Sandra Oh and T.R. Knight first kind of walked into the hospital.

“We’re kind of doing that again. And it’s very exciting to feel that we’re all part of that.”

As for Owen? Whose fate remains a mystery after he went on the run in the season 18 finale… following his confession that he administered medication to a patient to help him die by euthanasia?

“I think he still has quite a bit of fallout to deal with. He did a noble thing last year, but he bent the rules too much and he has to pay the price,” McKidd told People.

“He’s already paid a significant price, but it’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out because he isn’t out of hot water yet. He has to dig himself out.

“My character is always in trouble.”

Grey’s Anatomy Season 19 will premiere October 6 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC