Patrick Dempsey’s departure from Grey’s Anatomy came as a shock to fans who weren’t prepared for the death of his beloved character, Derek Shepherd. Dempsey had played Shepherd since Season 1 of the program. His final episode included a flashback to his first meeting with Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo. Their discovery that they are co-workers, after an initial encounter in a bar, launched the entire series.
Dempsey recalled his time on Grey’s Anatomy in an extensive interview with Entertainment Weekly. Although he had many diplomatic comments for the program and its head honcho, Shonda Rhimes, Dempsey seemed to save his most moving comments for Pompeo. He was asked to talk about their chemistry.
“[He hesitates, and then tears up.] Beautiful chemistry. It’s magic. Chemistry. It’s beautiful. We’re like a married couple. It’s 10 years and it was magic from the beginning. Chemistry right away. Very moving, always has been.”
He credited Rhimes for caring about the show’s fans and said the noted producer was responsible for Grey’s Anatomy staying on the air for such a long time. When asked why he signed a two-year extension on his contract last year, that would have taken him through Season 12 of the program, Dempsey replied simply, “job security, why not?” The contract, according to Dempsey, also came with a production deal.
As for when he discovered Shepherd would be killed off, he said that it happened “very quickly,” as recently as February or March. This season, the show’s 11th, was the first year Dempsey did not appear in every episode. His character was absent for six installments.
As for keeping the character going for 11 seasons, Dempsey again credited Ellen Pompeo and their partnership.
“With Ellen that was the magic. I just played with her. You have all this crazy s**t going on around you and then you’re in front of the camera. We were just present to each other and listening to each other. It was always very magical, very professional. We always knew that.”
Dempsey said he “very quietly left” on his last day. In an interview last week Caterina Scorsone, who plays Shepherd’s sister Amelia, refused to discuss Dempsey’s last appearance on set, calling it “private brother-sister stuff.”
Tech Times reported that Ellen Pompeo has yet to comment on Dempsey’s departure. Her character, Meredith Grey, is left as a single mother to her two children. In Dempsey’s final episode, Grey was seen schooling the poorly-trained physicians who failed to save her husband. She lectured them on how to care for a patient and improve their skills after the loss.
[Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo images courtesy of Getty]