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Exclusive Q&A: Patrick Dempsey On Re-Signing With Grey's Anatomy, His Relationship With Ellen Pompeo and His Hopes for the Series Finale

Patrick Dempsey Grey's Anatomy InterviewIt wouldn’t be a stretch to say that, during his eight years on Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey has done it all.

As Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, he’s been shot by a crazed gunman, injured in a plane crash, and lost both his best friend and sister-in-law under tragic circumstances. On the flip side, he’s also met and married the love of his life, become a father, and built his dream house from scratch.

Yet over the summer, the actor — along with leading lady Ellen Pompeo and fellow original cast members Chandra Wilson, Sandra Oh and Justin Chambers — inked a new deal to continue scrubbing in for at least two more seasons
(beginning with this, the series’ ninth).

In the following Q&A conducted on the set of the ABC hit, Dempsey reveals why decided to re-up, how his relationship with Pompeo has changed over the course of a near-decade and what he would like not to see in the eventual series finale.

VIDEO: Grey’s Anatomy Sneak Peek: Mer’s Keeping a Secret From Derek

TVLINE | You re-signed for two more years last May — how come?
Job security. You look at what’s going on in the world and how difficult it is to get a job. Actors who have been on other [hit] shows aren’t working. I’m like, you know what? Why not [stay]? It’s here. It’s still going. Everybody’s working really well together. The scheduling is working out this year. And it’s still amazingly popular. I had a long time where I wasn’t working. I was struggling. So why not? And the money’s good. I would be stupid to say no.

TVLINE | Was it hard saying goodbye to co-star Eric Dane (who played Mark)?
Anytime you lose a castmember it’s something profound. It has an empty feeling to it. He was a big part of the show. When [someone] leaves there’s an emptiness to it. It’s kind of strange to look down at the call sheet and not see his name. It’s sad.

PHOTOS | Get a First Look at the Standalone Meredith-Cristina Episode

TVLINE | Shonda Rhimes has said that Derek and Meredith will be enjoying lots of romance this season. Your reaction?
I hope so. They’ve been fighting enough over the last eight years. I don’t know how they stayed together. [Laughs]

TVLINE | We’re also going to get a glimpse of their sex life as a married couple.
I need to get to the gym more.

TVLINE | How much sex do you think they’re having?
They should have it at least once a day. But I think the baby [Zola] gets in the way.

RELATED | Grey’s Anatomy Boss Shonda Rhimes Justifies Killing Off Mark

TVLINE | Would you have liked to see them have a traditional TV wedding with all the trappings?
I would’ve liked that, but that’s not going to happen. I think probably when there’s a real [Mer-Der] wedding it’s the end [of the series].

TVLINE | How has your relationship with Ellen evolved?
We’re like a married couple at this point. We’ve been together for nine years. We’ve gone through everything. We have a lot of fun. You go through all the emotions because you’re spending a lot of time together. [There are days when] you go, “Oh, OK. You’re obviously in a bad mood. I’ll come back in about 10 minutes.” And then you get on with it.

TVLINE | How do you think the show will end?
Gosh. I hope it’s not something traumatic like another plane crash or somebody getting run over by a bus. I think [life will] sort of just go on. I think it would just go out very simply — and leave it open for the movie. [Laughs]

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37 Comments
  1. i love him. if he ever left the show i don’t know if i would be able to watch it anymore.

  2. Tia says:

    Thank you so much Ausiello. So happy Patrick and Ellen signed, they’re the reason I watch. Love the question about his relationship with Ellen. :)

  3. Cindy says:

    Nice article. Well done. Thanks.

  4. Anna says:

    I love that he’s so honest about his reasons for signing for another two seasons, because the money IS good. I don’t think everyone would admit that this is part of the reason though. So yay Patrick!

    • Svenja says:

      I enjoy that kinda honesty, too. It is not usual in the business. It’s refreshing. I also think quitting a hit show would really be stupid since it is a secure job. A lot of actors have a few hits and then never appear in a bigger role again. I love how Patrick appreciates his position.

  5. Caro says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Patrick! Too bad you probably won’t be reading this but I totally agree that the show should end on a good note, so that we as fans will be happy with seeing everybody happy and content so that we can imagine them living their lives. So then the show will be over but Shonda COULD always pick up where she left off with the characters we love happy and together and enjoying their lives. Like Ross and Rachel on Friends, we all can imagine them growing old together. Although we all know it’s just fiction and fantasy, it’s nice to end things happily and to the satisfaction of the fans who have been watching all those years. I’m just afraid Shonda won’t be able to resist her urge to include some major drama in the series finale, when that point comes… She already has done so much that has disappointed a lot of fans, such a pity and such a waste… So I hope for the best.
    I have to say: Although I’m not enthusiastic about many recent story line developments (Mark/Callie/Arizona, Mark and Lexie dead, Teddy gone, Cris now having another man etc.) I’m very glad she’s made Mer & Der happy together and that they have a solid relationship without story lines that involve fights, breakups and more of that. Life is about so much more and it is possible to grow closer as a couple every single day. It’s nice to see that with Mer & Der. We have missed that on the show. So I’m happy about that. And I’m happy about Ben & Bailey.

    • Trace says:

      Very well said! Lovely response.

    • Jessica says:

      This. Such a great post.

      Great article! Love his honesty, is refreshing and the answer about his relationship with Ellen. After 9 seasons and they still talk so highly about each other, they’re closer than ever and the chemistry always shown on screen. Let’s hope we’ll see it more this season.

  6. tvaddict says:

    10 seasons and a movie, maybe?

  7. Trace says:

    Thanks for the scoop! Love how honest & open he and Ellen are about sticking with Grey’s.

  8. EllenFTW says:

    Thank you Ausiello for this great Patrick interview!! LOVE his relationship with Ellen Pompeo, those two have the best chemistry on television and fans are crazy over them together. His remarks about ellen was very appreciated.

    Really enjoy patrick’s honesty about why he renewed and am frankly very happy he and ellen did renew. The show would be finished if they left, most fans only watch for those two.

  9. John DeMayo says:

    “Gosh. I hope it’s not something traumatic like another plane crash or somebody getting run over by a bus. I think [life will] sort of just go on.”

    Don’t count on it, Patrick. Don’t count on it.

  10. Elissa says:

    Sounds like a real stand up guy. I actually laughed out loud when I read his response “I have to go to the gym more” lol and regardless of what people say, MerDer is still my fav part of Grey’s. I’ve rewatched those 9 eps of season 1 many times, the way they started together is so fun to watch. Sure over the years their relationship has evolved and some people might call them one of the more boring couples of the show now, but they are still going strong and totally adorable together. I look forward to seeing them get it on this season lol :P Yay for McDreamy !

    • TVwithSally says:

      I laughed at the comment when I read it the first time. I chuckled the second time he said it in an interview, now this? You’re not a robot, Patrick. You can give a different response and a human emotion.

  11. mark says:

    I could swear I saw this exact interview before. Is Mike just recycling his former interview, is he ripping someone off, or is Dempsey just giving the exact answers? Nothing new here, nothing interesting

    • I think Patrick is just giving the same answers because I too have seen his quote about re-signing in another article. There isn’t really much else to say though.

      • mark says:

        But even that “going to the gym more” line Ive heard before. It’s the EXACT answers. It’s just really strange to me. It certainly doesn’t feel like he’s “opening up” by giving generic, canned answers.

        • TVwithSally says:

          Yeah, thats what I think! I had the same reaction. I guess it’s the fact that hes claiming this is exclusive and some sort of scoop is whats irking me.

        • ben says:

          I think some of these lines may have appeared in “Ask Ausiello” before, and he is just now giving us the full interview.

        • Stephanie says:

          Why should he have to come up with different answers to the same questions? He probably does tons of interviews and doesn’t feel like coming up with different ways to say the same thing over and over.

  12. Uggsnomore says:

    “In the following Q&A conducted on the set of the ABC hit”

    Is it possible that Patrick gave this interview in front of a group of different reporters on the set of the show earlier in the year and thats why this is such a bad, stale interview? Because they all have the same answers? Thats the only explanation I can think of. This is embarresing that Michael would bill it as some sort of exclusive “opening up” when we’ve been reading the same answers word-for-word for the last three months. I’m disappoonted in myself I got excited seeing the headline. And why would TVline choose to withhold this interview until now when it was most likely conducted months ago with all the other interviews? Slow news week? I dont get it….

    • Steve says:

      I agree, but its not Patrick’s fault they posted this interview with the false title of being “exclusive” when TV Guide and many other publications have him saying the same answers.

  13. TraceMe says:

    I feel like I’ve read this before…

    • Uggsnomore says:

      I have a feeling this was conducted way months ago and they’ve just held it until now for some reason. Stupid, I know

  14. grace says:

    lovely interview. Patrick’s answers were straight forward and honest. I like that about him.

  15. LostFan24 says:

    I definitely understand everyone’s frustrations. Although this is the only interview I’ve read in a while from Patrick, he could very well be giving the exact same intervew responses and / or this was withheld from a pre-season press pow-wow session with the actor. It’s true none of these answers really reflect anything current. Either way, in no way should this be labeled an “exclusive.”

  16. lulu says:

    its one thing if the show was struggling like private practice but greys is as popular as ever. Why not stay in a popular show for 2 more seasons.

  17. sarah says:

    I have loved Patrick for many years and I am so happy he is staying, albeit at a toned down natured but still!!!

  18. Kay says:

    He is always so honest no matter what. Too bad you didn’t ask him about Lexie

  19. katie says:

    My prediction:everyone will die in a traumatic way. This *is* Shondaland after all.

  20. Sue says:

    I love his candor as always. And IMO Patrick and Ellen still have that amazing chemisty together going into season nine. She’s his work wife literally.

  21. Jan says:

    Awe, what an awesome guy!!! He’s been my prince charming since “Can’t Buy Me Love”…yes I’m that old! Patrick has always seemed like a regluar, sincere guy and not some spoiled actor, glad he’s sticking around :)

  22. Meghan says:

    Great interview – I love Patrick Dempsey. And his honesty in this was really refreshing.

  23. Rayna says:

    I think maybe another musical to the end fu of feelings. Yeap & sex… & real woman for Alex. Make him happy. Like love at first site. Oh please. & Chistjanna to be happy.

  24. kay kay says:

    If patrick or ellen ever left the show I probably would not watch it anymore. Their relationship is what makes the show fun, and dramatic.Meredith and Derek are in my opinion are the best characters on the show. But the characters af chrisina and bailey are halarious

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