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.
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.
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.
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]