- T.R. Knight's family didn't know he was gay until an incident on the "Grey's Anatomy" set leaked.
- Isaiah Washington was fired from the show in 2007 after referring to Knight using a homophobic slur.
- A "source close to Washington" said in a new book that the actor isn't homophobic.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
T.R. Knight's family didn't know he was gay before Isaiah Washington referred to him using a homophobic slur during a late-night fight on set with Patrick Dempsey, said former "Grey's Anatomy" writer Harry Werksman.
According to "How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey's Anatomy" by Entertainment Weekly editor at large Lynette Rice, tension between Washington and Dempsey hit a boiling point during a late-night shoot on October 9, 2006. Per the book, former executive producer Mark Wilding said Dempsey was aiming to "pay" Washington back for being late to set one day "by being late himself." The argument escalated into "physically fighting," according to Wilding.
Werksman, who was also formerly a producer on "Grey's Anatomy," guessed that Washington "felt disrespected that he and the crew had been waiting." According to the book, Werksman said that Washington approached Dempsey, pushed him up against a wall, and told him he couldn't "talk to me the way you talk to" Knight, whom he referred to using the homophobic slur.
Several people on set tried to intervene, including actor Katherine Heigl, Wilding said. Everyone then returned to their trailers to cool down and the incident appeared to be over.
As longtime "Grey's Anatomy" viewers already know, the argument was soon leaked to the press. But in the new book, Werksman also revealed the depth to which this personally impacted Knight.
"We all felt horrible for T.R. because he had not come out to his family at that point," Werksman said. "That was the way the news got delivered, and there was a feeling like, 'Oh my God, I can't imagine a worse way for that news to get to your family.'"
Knight publicly confirmed he's gay in a 2006 statement to People in order to "quiet any unnecessary rumors" about him. "While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I'm gay isn't the most interesting part of me," the statement read, in part.
A year later, Knight said on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" that getting called the homophobic slur is what prompted him to disclose information about his private life because "it became important to make the statement."
Washington issued a statement of apology for his actions to People in 2006. According to the book, Washington used the slur again in 2007 at the Golden Globe Awards when he was denying having said it during the initial incident. He was fired from the show later that year, but briefly returned to "Grey's Anatomy" in season 10 as part of the exit storyline for Sandra Oh's character Cristina Yang.
In "How to Save a Life," Rice reports that a "source close to Washington" says the incident "was more about his personality than it was any homophobia or perceived homophobia."
Representatives for Washington and Knight didn't immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.