For Grey’s Anatomy fans, it's hard to watch our favorite cast members in any other film or show but Greys. No matter what other roles they are cast in, we will always see them as Meredith Grey, Christina Yang, George O’Malley and of course McDreamy and McSteamy.
Just like other actors though, they started their careers at the bottom. It took a lot of hard work, dedication, and some serious skill to get in the positions they are in now. From commercials, to brief scenes in a movie or show, they have done it all.
Keep reading to learn what these 18 actors did before they gained worldwide fame and became the characters, we all know and love on the hit ABC TV series, Grey’s Anatomy.
18 Ellen Pompeo: Dr. Meredith Grey
Ellen Pompeo started her career back in 1995 after moving to New York and being approached by a casting director to appear in various commercials.
According to ew.com, from there she moved up to films such as Moonlight Mile, Catch Me if You Can and Old School, before landing the role of Meredith Grey in 2005.
She even did a cameo appearance in Taylor Swift’s music video, Bad Blood.
17 Sandra Oh: Dr. Christina Yang
Before Sandra Oh was Christina Yang, she was a young girl who turned down a four-year journalism scholarship to study drama.
According to ew.com, Sandra did roles such as Vice Principal Gupta in The Princess Diaries, Patti in Under the Tuscan Sun, and Stephanie in Sideways, before landing the role of Christina.
After 10 seasons though, she left to fulfill a career on the stage.
16 Patrick Dempsey: Dr. Derek Shepherd
Patrick Dempsey started his acting journey by appearing in a few stage productions. It wasn’t until he turned 21 that he would finally get casted in a major feature, Beverly D’Angelo.
According to ew.com, Patrick starred in things such as: Can’t Buy Me Love, Scream 3 and Sweet Home Alabama, before landing the part as Derek Shepherd for 11 seasons.
Since Derek’s death though, he has been focusing on racing cars.
15 Chandra Wilson: Dr. Miranda Bailey
Chandra Wilson’s first network television role was in the 2001 short-lived series Bob Patterson, where she was deemed in a review for USA Today, “the only person in the show you can imagine wanting to see again.”
According to ew.com, from there she starred in shows such as The Sopranos and Sex and the City before landing the part of Miranda Bailey for 16 seasons now.
14 James Pickens: Dr. Richard Weber
James Pickens, like many other actors, started his acting career on stage playing Walter Lee in A Raisin in the Sun. He later moved to the West Coast and began his Hollywood career by playing Zack Edwards in Another World.
According to ew.com, he jumped around from many 90’s TV shows such as Blossom, Beverly Hills 90210, Roseanne and Seinfeld, before landing the part as Chief of Surgery for 16 years now.
13 Sara Ramirez: Dr. Callie Torres
During her time in school, Sara Ramirez spent most of her time on the stage doing school plays. After school, she began attending Julliard, where she learned not only how to improve her acting, but also how to better her singing.
According to ew.com, Sara went from doing Broadway shows like Dreamgirls, to joining the cast of Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Callie Torres in season 3.
12 Justin Chambers: Dr. Alex Karev
After being discovered on a Metro train, Justin Chambers started modeling around the world in ad campaigns for Calvin Klein, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.
According to ew.com, after moving from modeling to acting, Justin stared in many different roles, but it was his role as Massimo in the movie The Wedding Planner that really got him noticed.
He has since played Alex Karev for 16 seasons now.
11 Eric Dane: Dr. Mark Sloan
Throughout high school, Eric Dane was known as an athlete, but after appearing in a school production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, he decided to go into acting.
According to ew.com, after moving to Los Angeles, Eric was cast in roles in Saved by the Bell, Married with Children, Roseanne and even Charmed.
He stared in Greys for six years, before leaving and joining TNT’s The Last Ship.
10 Chyler Leigh: Dr. Lexie Grey
Chyler Leigh started acting in local television commercials as a teen before her mother moved them to Los Angeles so she would have a better chance of developing her acting skills.
According to ew.com, Chyler first proved herself as an actress in 2001 when she was cast as Janey Briggs in Not Another Teen Movie.
After leaving Grey’s Anatomy in season 8, she moved on to the CBS TV series, Supergirl.
9 Kevin McKidd: Dr. Owen Hunt
Kevin McKidd’s first break out role was in Trainspotting, which led to many other roles such as: Made of Honor, Max and Dog Soldiers.
According to ew.com though, it was his role as Lucius Vorenus in the HBO/BBC series Rome that led to his role as Dr. Owen Hunt in Grey’s Anatomy. He first appeared in season 5 but didn’t become a series regular until season seven. He has been on the show ever since.
8 Jessica Capshaw: Dr. Arizona Robbins
Jessica Capshaw’s first role as an actress was for a minor part in the 1997 movie The Locusts.
According to ew.com, she went on to star in shows such as Odd Man Out, The Practice, Bones and The L Word, before being cast as Arizona Robbins in season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy.
7 Jesse Williams: Dr. Jackson Avery
In 2005, Jesse Williams began to study acting. From there he went on to do things such as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Law & Order and Greek.
According to ew.com, Jesse started playing Jackson Avery in season 6, and has been a season regular since. He has also starred in projects such as The Butler and Snake and Mongoose during season breaks.
6 Sarah Drew: Dr. April Kepner
Before Sarah Drew was an actress, she was a voice actress, starring in shows such as Daria, all while still in high school.
According to ew.com, she eventually made her way in front of a camera and became a series regular on WB’s Everwood. She later appeared on Grey's in season 6 and became a series regular until season 14.
5 Katherine Heigl: Dr. Izzie Stevens
Katherine Heigl’s film debut took place in the 1992 film, That Night.
According to ew.com, from there she went on to do things such as Wish Upon a Star and even became a series regular on the 1999 series Roswell.
After being on Grey’s for six seasons, Katherine left on not-so-great terms and decided to pursue a film career, some including 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth.
4 T.R. Knight: Dr. George O'Malley
T.R. Knight spent most of his early career on Broadway before switching to shows such as Noises Off and Tartuffe.
According to ew.com, T.R. starred in season one of Grey’s Anatomy and went on to be a series regular until season five, when he made the decision to leave due to multiple reasons. He then made the decision to return to the stage.
3 Isaiah Washington: Dr. Preston Burke
Isaiha Washington’s break out film role was in 1991, where he stared as Malcolm in a short film called The Land Where My Fathers Died.
According to ew.com, he went on to star in shows such as: Law & Order and All My Children, before landing the role as Preston Burke.
He was later was let go in the third season and moved on to star in the CW’s The 100.
2 Kate Walsh: Dr. Madison Montgomery
Kate Walsh started her career working at fast-food chains such as Burger King and Dairy Queen.
According to ew.com, her break out television appearance happened in 1997 when she was cast as Nicki Fifer, Drew Carey’s love interest, in the show The Drew Carey Show.
After leaving Grey’s Anatomy, she went on to get her own spin-off in ABC’s Private Practice, before its last season in 2013.
1 Jason George: Dr. Ben Warren
Jason George first made his television debut in Touched by an Angel.
According to ew.com, he later went on to become a series regular in the soap opera Sunset Beach from 1997 to 1999.
Jason first appeared as Ben Warren in season six and became a series regular for a while there. He now makes season guest appearances, all while staring as Ben Warren in the new show, Station 19.