Born Ellen Kathleen Pompeo on Nov. 10, 1969 in Everett, MA, she was raised in and around the Boston area by her father, Joseph, and stepmother after her mother, Kathleen, passed away due to an accidental overdose of painkillers when she was only four years old. Pompeo lived for a time on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in her late teens before moving to Miami, FL, where she earned a living as a cocktail waitress for a time, ultimately returning to New York a little over two years later
Pompeo appears with Luke Wilson (left) and Vince Vaughn in the wildly successful comedy, Old School. Although she's cast as Ben Affleck's secretary in Daredevil and Jim Carrey's girlfriend in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, most, if not all, of her scenes are left on the cutting room floor. "I got completely cut out of [Eternal Sunshine] but got so much affirmation to be hired," she tells Allure.
Determined to get serious about her career, Pompeo moved to Los Angeles in 2001 and finally struck gold in 2002 when she was tapped by director Brad Silberling for a crucial role in his film “Moonlight Mile”. Despite her thin resume and non-existent name value, Silberling--who also penned the the script--saw in Pompeo the sparkle he needed to make his cast complete. As Jake Gyllenhall’s romantic interest in the grueling film about death, grief, and dealing with personal loss, Pompeo provided a desperately needed ray of hope, taking an underwritten part and making it breathe. Despite the film’s mixed reviews, critics were generally unanimous regarding Pompeo’s performance.