Award-winning TV writer Elisabeth Finch is owning up to her lies.
The disgraced Hollywood figure made headlines this year when she announced her formal resignation from Grey’s Anatomy, the ABC medical drama for which she served as both writer and consulting producer. Her exit came after she was accused of fabricating details of personal life and incorporating those elements into the series’ storylines. Parent company Disney eventually looked into the allegations, which involved cancer diagnosis claims as well as the purported suicide of Finch’s older brother. But before Disney could launch a formal investigation, Finch announced she was stepping away from the show after seven years.
In a recent interview with the Ankler, Finch opened up about her controversial exit and admitted to lying about her life journey while working on Grey’s Anatomy. She told the outlet she had dealt with past trauma by fabricating her medical history as well as the death of her brother, who is reportedly still alive and working as a doctor in Florida.
“I know it’s absolutely wrong what I did,” she said. “I lied and there’s no excuse for it. But there’s context for it. The best way I can explain it is when you experience a level of trauma a lot of people adopt a maladaptive coping mechanism. Some people drink to hide or forget things. Drug addicts try to alter their reality. Some people cut. I lied. That was my coping and my way to feel safe and seen and heard.”
During her time at Grey’s Anatomy, Finch claimed to have been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called chondrosarcoma. She allegedly told her colleagues that her intense chemotherapy treatments forced her to have an abortion, and also cost her a portion of her leg as well as a kidney.
“I’ve never had any form of cancer,” she told the Ankler, claiming the lies began after she sustained a leg injury while hiking in Temescal Canyon.
“Everyone was so amazing and so wonderful leading up to all the surgeries. They were so supportive,” she said about the 2007 incident. “And then I got my knee replacement. It was one hell of a recovery period and then it was dead quiet because everyone, naturally, was like, ‘Yay! You’re healed.’ But it was dead quiet. And I had no support and went back to my old maladaptive coping mechanism—I lied and made something up because I needed support and attention and that’s the way I went after it. That’s where that lie started—in that silence.”
Finch said her lies have cost her many relationships, both inside and outside the industry. Not only has her wife left her, Finch claimed she’s been disowned by her family and is no longer allowed to see the children she helped raise.
“I wish I had a grid that would show who’s not talking to me because they can’t [legally],” she continued. “Who’s not talking to me because they don’t know what to say. Who’s not talking to me because they’re pissed off. And then who’s sitting there waiting for me to reach out. I have no clue…it’s been a very quiet, very sad time.”
Despite her very public fall from grace, Finch said she hopes to make a comeback and return to TV writing. She said she she’s specifically drawn to Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and the “world of redemption” it’s created.
“I could only hope that the work that I’ve done will allow me back into those relationships where I can say, ‘Okay, I did this, I hurt a lot of people and I’m also going to work my fucking ass off because this is where I want to be and I know what it’s like to lose everything,’” she said.
You can read Finch’s full interview here.