Isaiah Washington will appear in the season finale of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy – his first appearance since being fired from the medical drama in 2007.
Washington is reprising his role of Dr. Preston Burke in an episode that will serve as the swan song for Sandra Oh’s character of Cristina Yang who was romantically involved with Burke in earlier seasons.
Creator Shonda Rhimes, who fired Washington after he used homophobic slurs, said Washington’s character is ‘vital’ to wrapping up Yang’s storyline.
‘It’s important to me that Cristina’s journey unfolds exactly as it should,’ Rhimes said in a statement. ‘Burke is vital to that journey – he gives her story that full-circle moment we need to properly say goodbye to our beloved Cristina Yang.’
Washington’s troubles began when he had an on-set scuffle in the fall of 2006 with co-star Patrick Dempsey during which Washington referred to co-star TR Knight as a ‘faggot.’
Knight, who is gay, was not yet out publicly but confirmed his sexuality in a statement as a result of the incident.
Then Washington made things worse by repeating the slur (during a denial) in front of the international press and all his castmates backstage at the Golden Globe Awards in early 2007 after the show had just won the best drama prize.
The actor underwent counseling to try and keep his job but was later fired anyway.
He was always bothered that the incidents led to people thinking he was a homophobe.
Washington had played gay roles in the past and posed for the NOH8 campaign in 2009 in a silent protest against California’s Proposition 8.
Last year, Washington played the role as the sympathetic dad of a gay teen in the film Blackbird from Patrik-Ian Polk of Noah’s Arc fame. Washington also produced the film with Polk and Carol Ann Shine.