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Kevin McKidd backs Ellen Pompeo's decision to lessen Grey’s Anatomy role

Kevin McKidd supports Ellen Pompeo and her decision to cut back on her ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ role.

The longstanding cast member – who has played Dr. Owen Hunt on the show since 2008 – has addressed the Dr Meredith Grey actress’ decision to only appear in eight of the 20 episodes in the ABC medical drama’s upcoming 19th season.

Kevin, 49, told E! News’ Daily Pop: “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.”

He also insisted her presence on the show rather than totally leaving “shows her love” for the programme.

He added: “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.”

Ellen, 52, is executive producing and starring in a new Hulu limited series, which follows the true story of a couple who accuses their Ukrainian adopted daughter of being an adult and secretly conning them.

She isn’t the only cast member whose role on the show is changing after season 18 ended on a cliff-hanger for Owen, as he, wife Teddy (Kim Raver) and their kids left the country on a plane.

Kevin – who shares two children with ex-wife Jane Parker and two with current spouse Arielle Goldrath – played coy about his when asked if fans would see him return next season.

He teased: “It’s a little too early to say. All I can say is we have these new amazing interns, who are this kind of new blood in the show.”

Five new actors are set to join series 19’s main cast as first-year residents at Grey Sloan Memorial, and Kevin also told PEOPLE magazine they would mark “sort of reignition of the show”.

He said: “We have this amazing group of new interns, brilliant, young, vibrant actors who are really passionate.

“So it’s making room for that. 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.”

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