Ellen Pompeo admits she still has trouble getting used to her celebrity status. The 38-year-old shot to fame as the lovelorn Dr Meredith Grey on the smash medical drama, Grey's Anatomy.

Before landing this role, the Massachusetts native was best known for her supporting turns in films such as Moonlight Mile, Daredevil and Old School. Now a household name and the star of TV's number one show, Pompeo talks about dealing with fame and life in the public eye.

You are the star of the number one TV show around the world. Do you ever pause to think about that?

I do think about it and it makes me feel great. I'm very blessed.

Do you worry that this success is fleeting?

No, I'm going to enjoy my life. I only get one chance at this. It won't last forever, which is precisely why you have to enjoy it now. Any minute there will be another show, and they'll get their day in the sun. This is such a tough business, so to see anybody succeed and get their moment is nice.

Did you ever think that Grey's would grow to be such a phenomenon?

No, I didn't have any idea. I think it's in everybody's best interest to sort of focus on the work. You don't think about what will happen from it, you just want the work to be good. It's kind of a bonus when it really turns out to be great.

Personally, what do you think of Meredith and the choices she makes?

I think emotionally Meredith has quite a way to go. I think that is very true for a lot of medical students who spend so much of their lives in school. The focus is really on academia and the emotional part is sort of secondary.

So she has some catching up to do with her emotional intelligence. As a character, it's great to play someone who's flawed and interesting.

Some critics complain that your character is a bit too self-absorbed. Do you agree?

If a man was as flawed [as Meredith] is, he would be seen as complex and interesting and dark. But because she's a woman, she's seen as being whiny or needy. It's such a double standard.

We're hoping to break that way of thinking. Human beings, men and women, are all flawed. We all make mistakes and we all have weaknesses. If I were just this very smart doctor who knew everything all the time and didn't have any troubles, then I would get quite bored.

As the lead character, the filming schedule can be quite gruelling. Are you coping with the stress?

Well, the upside is that my character is supposed to be tired, so it works for me. Whenever I'm tired, I'm like, ‘Who cares? I'm exhausted. I'm an intern'. But when you are that tired, your eyes are the first thing to show the strain. As a girl, I feel like maybe I don't look so great all the time.

Have you had to go into a hospital or a doctor's office since the show started?

No, thank God. But my family has, and they drop my name to get the VIP treatment.

You seem to be very close with your co-stars. Do you spend time together away from the set?

Not really because we don't have a lot of downtime. And when we do, we either have to sleep or go to the grocery store. We get enough of each other here.

Your husband is a music producer. Is music a big part of your life?

Oh, my goodness, music is like food. It's joy and happiness and it brings people together. I think that music is integral to people's lives. I love music.

There's a lot of pressure on actresses to always look thin. Do you worry about that?

It's a very sensitive topic. I've been accused of having an eating disorder which, obviously, I don't. But it's a very dangerous accusation to make.

I get fan mail from 13 and 14-year-old girls who look up to me and if they think that I'm not being healthy, that worries me. I don't want a little 13-year-old girl to think that I'm starving myself to look this way.

Is it hurtful to hear rumours like that?

At first it was hurtful and I was sort of taking it personally. But I've always been teased for being skinny; it's not really something new. I experienced it all through high school. I'm sure there are a lot of little 12-year-old girls who are skinny and feel like the ugly duckling.

Did you feel like the ugly duckling growing up?

I certainly felt less developed than the other girls. I was definitely waiting. And I'm still waiting.

Are you more self-conscious of your appearance now that you're gracing the cover of magazines?

A little bit, but you can't focus on that. It feels rather silly to worry so much about surface things like fashion and clothes when there are so many more important issues affecting the world. You know, children are starving and people are being murdered and I'm on the cover of a magazine. Whatever! I
really can't be that self-absorbed.

Don't miss it!

Grey's Anatomy is on Star World on Sundays at 9pm and Mondays at 12am