Patrick Dempsey's Anatomy
By Sari Anne Tuschman
Photographs by Nino Muñoz/Montage Agency
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Patrick "McDreamy" Dempsey is the reason we’ve tuned into Grey’s Anatomy for six seasons. His trademark stare has become what daydreams are made of for women everywhere, and we can’t even discuss that hair. We talk to one of People magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive about his need for speed, if Derek and Meredith will live happily ever after and why his Hollywood marriage is not a source of tabloid fodder.
LOS ANGELES CONFIDENTIAL: I recently read you were a big ski racer when you were young. Now you’re a race-car driver and even have your own team. Do you think ski racing started your affinity for speed?
PATRICK DEMPSEY: I certainly love being competitive. I think when I signed up for racing I went back to that period in my life. The discipline of the training and that sense of competition were things that appealed to me. I think speed is only good if you can control it and channel it properly—that’s a real challenge in racing. I really love it, and I love the rules. I love that it’s so competitive and the fellowship it provides. It’s a great escape for me.
LAC: How has racing grown for you from an interest to a competitive sport?
PD: It started off as a Skip Barber Racing School lesson my wife had given me, and that really opened the door to allow me to continue. I went to the Panoz Racing School in Georgia and raced in its series and then started moving up to different series. This was all prior to the success of Grey’s Anatomy, which I’m grateful for because it made it much easier to be accepted into that world. A lot of the drivers didn’t realize I was an actor—they just thought I was racing. The success of the show kind of blew everything up and helped—the visibility helped with sponsorship because it’s a very expensive sport. A lot of the guys don’t watch the show, so it was their girlfriends telling them what was going on, which was really fun.
LAC: Let’s talk about Grey’s Anatomy. I heard you get some very passionate people coming up to you to express their views on Meredith and Derek’s relationship and whether or not they should be together. Do you want them to work out?
PD: I think the writers were afraid to bring us together because they liked the conflict. But after five seasons of that, there is nothing left for us to do. I think Ellen [Pompeo] and I are both very happy we’re together and that our storylines are moving together in a different direction.
LAC: And I guess it’s good to elicit such passion in people, right?
PD: Oh, absolutely. We’re really fortunate to be a hit show. I remember when we did the pilot, we didn’t know if it was going to be successful or not, and for the entire first year we didn’t know what the outcome would be. So to be here well over 100 episodes later and into season six and still be doing it—I’m very fortunate and very grateful.
LAC: The nickname “McDreamy” has become a household term.
PD: Yeah, I know. It’s very funny. It’s a doubleedged sword. This will be my legacy. I will be McDreamy.
LAC: I’d love to know how [Grey’s Anatomy creator and executive producer] Shonda Rhimes came up with that.
PD: I think it was just a joke that caught on. It was something she said during one of the takes. It was [what they called] one of the looks meant for Meredith. And then she goes, “Do that again, McDreamy.” And then it just sort of started.
LAC: Let’s talk about some of the future projects you have coming up—Valentine’s Day. Oh my goodness, what a cast.
PD: Oh, it’s a phenomenal cast. And to work with Garry Marshall, he’s a legend. I had a great time working with him. And I worked with Ashton [Kutcher], but I didn’t get a chance to work with too many other people. I was just happy to be a part of it. I sort of agreed to it even before I read it because I just wanted an opportunity to work with Garry Marshall. I also have a few scenes with Jennifer Garner, who is my love interest in it. I worked with her years ago, so it was fun to work with her again. It’s all these love stories that are connected to Valentine’s Day.