Patrick Dempsey Regrets Leaving ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ Talks Derek Shepherd’s ‘Death,’ And Reveals The Secret To A Happy Marriage

Patrick Dempsey is speaking out about the real reason he decided to leave the hit ABC prime-time show Grey’s Anatomy. Dempsey talked about Derek Shepherd’s “death” and his new role in the movie Bridget Jones’s Baby, reports People.

Ever since Derek died in April 2015, Grey’s Anatomy fans have missed his presence on the ABC show. In Dempsey’s mind, it was time to move on from the role that he had played perfectly for 11 seasons.

“I’m very grateful for Grey’s Anatomy. It’s given me the opportunity to do everything. But at the same time, there was a cost.”

Patrick revealed that the reason he decided to step away from Grey’s Anatomy after Season 11 was the long hours and time commitment to film the series. The 50-year-old actor explained that the show nearly cost him his marriage to wife Jillian. The couple has three children, Talula, 14 years old, and 8-year-old boys Darby and Sullivan.

“I think after a certain period of time, no matter how much money you make, you want control of your own schedule. It had been long enough. It was time for me to move on with other things and other interests. I probably should have moved on a couple of years earlier. I stayed a bit longer than I should have.”

Dempsey revealed that he sat down with Shonda Rhimes and told her it was time for him to move on to other projects. Patrick explained that he wanted to leave Grey’s Anatomy and Rhimes felt it was the right time for him to exit, too.

Patrick said that he didn’t know Derek was going to die or the huge impact it would have on Grey’s Anatomy fans and cast; he only knew that he would be gone and they agreed ABC would not recast the role, TV Line reports.

“I knew he was going to be gone, but I didn’t know how she was going to handle it. Shonda just said, I’m going to do it in a really good way and she did her thing.”

Dempsey was happy with the way Shonda handled Derek’s death and felt that it was a great ending to such an amazing part of his life. He admitted there were times he has regretted leaving the show, but it was the right decision for his career and family.

“I thought it was really interesting. It definitely woke people up. And it was beautifully symbolic in many ways.”

Now, Patrick is focused on movie roles and spending time with his family. He also has been working with the Dempsey Center, dedicated to helping patients with cancer and founded to honor his late mother, after she lost her cancer battle several years ago.

His family is very important to him. He has found that since leaving Grey’s Anatomy, he is much more relaxed around his family. He can laugh with them, without thinking about deadlines or work.

“I’m definitely more relaxed now. And happier too.”

Last year, Patrick shocked his fans when he announced that he and his wife, Jillian, decided to call it quits after 17 years of marriage. Everyone thought they were happy, but Dempsey reveals they were just “really good at hiding their problems.”

At the time of the split, there were rumors about what led to the separation. Media outlets reported that the split was caused by everything from an affair to drug abuse. Patrick reveals that none of that led to the short-lived separation. They just grew apart and they both “stopped working on their marriage.”

Patrick explained that he wasn’t prepared to let go of his marriage, and they both realized they had work to do. So, that’s where the reunion started and their marriage began to improve. They started to get along better and created a much happier (and healthier) home for their growing children.

“It’s always destabilizing when you’re potentially breaking up a family or you have a big section of your life that’s ending.”

Dempsey admitted that they went to couples therapy, and slowly they began to pick up the pieces from their strained marriage.

“Jill and I decided it was time to work on our issues and improve. We wanted to be role models for our kids like, okay, if you have differences, you can work them out.”

In the end, Patrick says marriage is hard work and you have to work at it. “You’ve got to communicate, and stay open and not get lazy. And not give up. And lots of sex,” Patrick Dempsey said.

Bridget Jones’s Baby hits theater on September 16.

[Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images]

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