Eric Dane Reveals the Real Reason Behind His 'Grey's Anatomy' Exit

Eric Dane, who played one of the many main characters killed off of Grey's Anatomy through the years, has opened up in an interview with Dax Shephard's Armchair Expert about his departure from the show and what may have precipitated it.

Related: Who Will Be the Next Series Regular to Leave 'Grey's Anatomy'?

"I didn't leave so much as I think I was let go," he said, adding that he was "struggling" with drug and alcoholic addiction at the time. "They didn't let me go because of that, although it definitely didn't help," he clarified.

Ultimately, he believes he was written off the medical drama for costing ABC too much money. "I was starting to become, as most of these actors who have spent significant time on the show, you start to become very expensive for the network," he said. "And the network knows that the show is going to do what it's going to do irrespective of who they keep on it—as long as they have their Grey they were fine."

Related: How Every Major 'Grey's Anatomy' Character Got Written Off the Show

Elaborating on his state of mind at the time of his exit, Dane told Shephard, "I wasn't the same guy they had hired, so I had understood when I was let go and Shonda [Rhimes] was really great," he said. "She protected us fiercely. She protected us publicly, she protected us privately...I love Shonda Rhimes and she protected me but I was probably fired. It wasn't ceremoniously like 'You're fired' it was just like 'You're not coming back.'"

Dane shared that he had been sober for "three or four years" by the time he was cast on the show, but that he relapsed after the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike.

"If you take the whole eight years I was on Grey's Anatomy, I was f----d up longer than I was sober and that was when things started going sideways for me," he said.

Dane played Dr. Mark Sloan (aka McSteamy) on the show from Seasons 2 through 8, although it wouldn't be confirmed until the Season 9 premiere that his character was going to die due to injuries from the plane crash that capped off Season 8. It was a classic (read: bananas) Grey's departure, and now we know more about why it went down.

Next, 'Grey's Anatomy' Renewed for Season 21: Everything to Know