Meredith and Nathan

Grey's Anatomy's Martin Henderson on Those McDreamy Comparisons and 'Possible' Romance With Meredith

New Grey’s Anatomy doc Martin Henderson wants to make one thing crystal clear to the show’s fans: His character, Nathan Riggs, is not — and will never be — McDreamy.

“What Patrick Dempsey did on the show, and what his character represented, is something that can never be replaced,” the actor tells TVLine. “The idea of me replacing McDreamy — or being the new McDreamy — is unrealistic, and not something that I would want to do as an actor. I’m my own person and my own actor and what I do is my thing. And what Patrick does is his thing; and he did it brilliantly.

“It would be disrespectful to the audience to suggest that my character would be a replacement,” he adds. “I see myself more as an addition to an existing show.”

That said, Henderson was hardly surprised by the “McDreamy” chatter given that his casting was announced just six weeks after Derek drew his last breath. “Because of the timing of [my arrival], it was inevitable that people were going to make those comparisons,” he admits. “It would be naive of me to assume that there wouldn’t be that designation from the audience.”

The McDreamy 2.0 buzz will likely intensify if series creator Shonda Rhimes pairs Henderson’s presumably single MD with Derek’s widow Meredith, as many have speculated. “Obviously it’s a possibility,” he concedes of a potential Nathan-Mer love story, before noting that, this being Grey’s Anatomy, “It’s just as viable that I end up with anyone on the show.

“At the end of the day, my job is to serve the audience, and I do that by serving Shonda,” Henderson continues. “If [a Nathan-Meredith romance] happens, I know there would be some strong feelings, positive and negative.”

What does he say to viewers (this one included) who glimpsed some subtle sparks flying during Meredith and Nathan’s brief elevator ride in last week’s episode? “It’s certainly fun working with Ellen [Pompeo], maybe you picked up on that,” Henderson responds with a laugh. “It’s interesting. I didn’t know how Ellen was going to play the [elevator] scene until we did the coverage, and I was like, ‘Wow — is she flirting with me? Or is she just screwing with me?’ And that’s the kind of stuff that Shonda really likes to write to. And if she feels there’s something to be mined there she will. And if there’s not then she won’t.”