T.R. Knight says a "breakdown in communication" with Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes led him to quit the hit ABC drama - and that Rhimes tried to discourage him from coming out soon after Isaiah Washington used an anti-gay slur.
Knight said that during "IsaiahGate" when Washington referred to Knight with an anti-gay slur during an October 2006 on-set argument with Patrick Dempsey - Rhimes "was concerned about having my [coming out] statement come out so close to the event."
Rhimes denies it: "I said [to T.R.], 'If you want to come out, that's awesome,'" she told Entertainment Weekly.
Fueling Knight's decision to leave were uncharacteristic changes in George (who cheated on wife Callie with BFF Izzie), punctuated by scant screen time for much of Season 5.
"There just comes a time when it's so clear that moving on is the best decision," Knight told EW. "No other series regular's character had ever disappeared like mine did."
Rather than seek assurances that he'd have more to do come this fall - Rhimes wanted him back for flashbacks - Knight asked out of his contract early.
"My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about George's future]," he said. "And with respect, I'm going to leave it at that."
Knight says he knows it might seem crazy to walk away from a hit show and $14 million contract. "But in the end, I need to be fulfilled in my work - that's more important than the money."
Knight next can be seen in a Los Angeles staging of Parade, opening in September. He then will return to Broadway for a February 2010 revival of Lend Me a Tenor.