The cast of 'Grey's Anatomy'

Millions of fans are obsessing about the new hit medical drama, Grey's Anatomy. On May 14, 2006, 22 million people tuned in to watch the jaw-dropping season finale of Grey's, which focuses on the personal and professional lives of five surgical interns, their supervisors and patients.

All season, fans have wondered what will happen to Dr. Meredith Grey (second from left), an intern who's involved in a steamy love triangle with Dr. Derek Shepherd and his wife, Addison (third and fourth from left). To complicate things even further, Meredith gets romantically involved with her dog's vet, Finn.

Will Meredith Grey choose Dr. Shepherd, played by Patrick Dempsey, or Finn, played by Chris O'Donnell?
Ellen Pompeo

Ellen Pompeo, a.k.a. Dr. Meredith Grey, says even she doesn't know who Meredith picks! "That's the one reason I can't wait to get back to work," she says. "I'm really happy to be on vacation, but I'm sort of anxious to get back because I want to read what happens!"

In the series' first episode, Ellen's character falls for Dr. Shepherd (nicknamed "McDreamy" by her fellow interns) and continues to have feelings for him...even after his estranged wife joins the hospital staff. Meredith's romance with the veterinarian develops after things with her true love seem hopeless.

If Ellen was in Meredith's scrubs and had to decide between the two doctors, what would she do? "Well, you have to follow your heart," she says.
Chris, Ellen Pompeo's boyfriend

During the Grey's Anatomy season finale, Ellen shares a steamy sex scene with co-star Patrick Dempsey. Ellen says these hot and heavy make-out sessions make Chris, her "real-life McDreamy," a little uncomfortable.

Chris, Ellen's boyfriend, says he excuses himself from the room when the on-screen romance heats up. "I try not to watch too much," he says. "We were watching [the finale] in the hotel Sunday, and we had some friends over, and I kind of found something else to do."

"He's so nice and tolerant," Ellen says.
Ellen Pompeo

After two seasons on ABC, Grey's Anatomy is one of the top-rated televisions shows in America, but just weeks before the series premiered, Ellen says the show's future was in jeopardy. "We didn't even have an air date until a couple weeks before we finished the first season," she says. "None of us thought they would put us on the air."

Then, at the last minute, show producers changed the name to Grey's Anatomy from Complications, which Ellen says didn't test well. Once producers worked out the kinks, the show aired and the audience was hooked. Ellen attributes the success of the series to on-set chemistry and great writing. "Despite the long hours and how hard it is, I think we all really get along," she says. "We have fun, and I think people feel that."

Ellen doesn't always agree with Meredith's decisions on the show. For example, in one scene this season Meredith professes her love for Dr. Shepherd and begs him to choose her over his wife, Addison.

"I certainly know how it feels to be in love like that," Ellen says. "But I would never beg a man. I would say all those things—how I love you—without the begging. Let him step up and do something."
Ellen Pompeo

Before Grey's, Ellen appeared in films like Old School, Moonlight Mile and Catch Me If You Can, but she says she always tries to keep her personal life as normal as possible. "I think all the attention that fame brings is quite unhealthy," she says. "I try to just keep my life very simple and focus on what's really important."

Ellen says doing good work, making people happy, making herself happy and having a happy home life are the most important things in her life.
'Grey's Anatomy' star Isaiah Washington

World-class cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Preston Burke, played by Isaiah Washington, is the star of cliffhanger number two. After undergoing a dangerous operation to remove a bullet lodged in his spine, Dr. Burke makes it out alive, but his fate as a surgeon is still unknown. His once steady hand is shaking, and it's unclear whether he will ever regain full use of his arm.
Isaiah Washington on the 'Grey's Anatomy' cliffhanger

Isaiah's character, the steadfast surgeon Dr. Burke, finds himself in a vulnerable position as the patient on the operating table. "I'm a little macho at times, so it's a horrible perspective to be lying on your back that way, looking up, and then playing this strong doctor," Isaiah says.

While Dr. Burke's hospitalization shocked fans, it also struck a personal chord with Isaiah. He says the finale reminded him of his own mother's real-life battle with sarcoidosis, a lung disease that took her life. "At one point, watching her make her 'transition' in a hospital—I swore that I would never walk into another hospital again," Isaiah says.

Luckily for viewers, Isaiah did step into a hospital again in what has been an empowering role for the actor. "I love Dr. Burke," he says. "Dr. Burke is my hero."
Isaiah Washington with the inside scoop

Fans, Oprah—and even Ellen—are on the edge of their seats to hear what Isaiah will reveal about Dr. Burke's fate next season.

"I can't say," says Isaiah. "I know that I probably won't have a job if I say—I do know that much!"

Although Isaiah's lips are sealed about the fate of his character, he does divulge another secret. Isaiah says he originally auditioned for the role of Dr. Shepherd—but didn't get the part.
Isaiah Washington on playing Dr. Burke

Isaiah says landing the role of Dr. Burke marked the beginning of a new era in his acting career. After playing "the bad guy" for years, Isaiah says he reached a turning point when his character in one movie met his end by being thrown off a roof.

"I realized all the work I have done—30 films—this is the crème de la crème?" says Isaiah. "The metaphor of the imagery of being thrown off and representing hip-hop and all these things... And I just said, 'This is not the truth that I want to represent. And if this is the idea of success for me, then I need to step back and start reevaluating what I want to do.'"
Ambassador Andrew Young and Isaiah Washington

With it's matter-of-fact approach to cultural diversity, Isaiah says Grey's Anatomy has been a powerful force for television. Nearly half the regular cast members are minorities. "I look at our show as that culmination, literally, of [Martin Luther King's] 'I Have a Dream' speech," he says. "Really, that's how I look at it. Because no one has ever walked up to me and said, 'Yo, bro' ... They say, 'Mr. Washington, I love Dr. Burke.' And they've never questioned my race."

Ambassador Andrew Young, a major force in the Civil Rights Movement, was present when Dr. King delivered that speech—and he also happens to be a fan of Grey's Anatomy. "What you all have done with this whole concept is to humanize where we are now—particularly in hospitals—that's where people are real," says Ambassador Young. "And you get real stories and you tell them well."