Patrick Dempsey on New TV Gig, Grey’s Anatomy’s ‘Remarkable’ 200th Episode, Season 11 Contract Talks: ‘It Would Be a Shame to End This’
As he approaches the decade mark with Grey’s Anatomy, Dempsey must soon decide whether he wants to continue playing Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd beyond the ABC hit’s upcoming 10th season or hang up his scrubs and pursue his true passion — racing — full time.
In the following Q&A, Dempsey offers an update on his current contract talks, reveals how (and when) he found out that co-star Sandra Oh was leaving, teases the show’s landmark 200th episode, and previews his other TV gig — the four-part Velocity docu-series Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans (premiering Wednesday at 10/9c).
TVLINE | What do you think your fans will be most surprised to learn while watching Racing Le Mans.
We don’t hide anything. We’re very open about the triumphs and we’re very clear about the mistakes. It shows the journey and the learning process. And it will hopefully bring some awareness to the history of racing in this country, and the importance of what Le Mans represents for endurance racing.
TVLINE | How involved in the editing were you?
Very involved. It’s hard to keep any kind of objectivity though. I don’t particularly enjoy the process because it’s me. There’s nothing to hide behind, other than the racing. But we have good discussions about what’s really right for telling this story and what the honest approach is.
TVLINE | What are some common misconceptions about racing and, in particular, racers?
I don’t think people quite understand road racing in this country. Oval racing and NASCAR have overwhelmed it. But road racing was a very big part of this country [starting] after World War II. People don’t really understand the depth of the history of road racing, and the kind of commitment and focus and luck and passion it takes to be able to win a race.
TVLINE | Would you at some point like to pursue racing full time?
I would love to. It depends on sponsorships. It depends on not being on a show. It’s kind of amazing, the [commitment] level I have right now with the amount of responsibility I have with the show and everything else.
TVLINE | Is creating a little more flexibility in your Grey’s schedule important to you as you consider signing on for Season 11?
Everything is open to a conversation at this point. Grey’s has been such a remarkable ride. Shonda [Rhimes] has been incredibly supportive. I enjoy Grey’s more than ever in many ways. Our relationships have grown considerably. We’ve all matured over the last 10 years. So it would be a shame to end this.
TVLINE | What was your reaction when you heard Sandra was leaving?
We found out right at the end of the table read for the 200th episode. She took the cast aside individually and said, “I’m going to leave the show.” With any member of the show, especially the original cast, it’s always sad to see someone leave.
TVLINE | How was the table read for Episode 200?
It was a blast. Everybody was really celebrating the achievement. There was openness and a joy in the entire room. It was a remarkable day.
TVLINE | Any teases about the episode?
We’re not allowed to talk about it. You know Shonda! [Laughs]
Dexter‘s daddy won’t be off the air for long.
James Remar has been tapped for a multi-episode arc on Grey’s Anatomy‘s upcoming tenth season, TVGuide.com has confirmed.
Details on Remar’s role were not available. As first reported by TVLine.com, Remar will appear early on in the season.
Remar has played Dexter’s (dead) adopted father, Harry Morgan, since Season 1. Remar, who is also known for his role as Richard on Sex and the City, has recently guest-starred on Wilfred, Hawaii Five-0 and The Vampire Diaries.
Grey’s Anatomy returns for a two-hour Season 10 premiere on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9/8c on ABC.
Who do you think Remar will play?
Grey’s Anatomy: Shonda Rimes Talks How Much Longer Grey’s Anatomy Will Go, Future of Cristina and Owen
Anyone else wanting to crawl in bed and spoon Cristina Yang, Meredith-style?
After news broke that Sandra Oh will be leaving Grey’s Anatomy after the 10th season, fans are left wondering how much longer the series can survive.
Creator Shonda Rimes exclusively tells E! News that she believes ABC will keep the series going as long as she personally is engaged in the show, and possibly even after.
“I see the show going as long as I continue to be interested in the show,” Rimes tells me. “And then I don’t know about the network, because they might see it going after me. But as I see it, as long as I’m interested and have stories to tell, I’m excited about being there. And I feel like that is my thing. I don’t want to be somebody who does something in a mediocre manner or sort of doesn’t care. So as long as I’m really invested, I want to be there.”
Sandra Oh, Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo signed two-year deals in 2010 to take them through the 10th season. We are told Kevin McKidd (Oh’s longtime love interest, Owen) will stick around through season 10 as well, and possibly beyond. ABC does not comment on actor contracts.
Rimes tells us that Owen and Cristina, a fan-favorite couple who split in the ninth season finale, will be “grappling with what it means that that they broke up. And it will be emotional.” And by season’s end, Cristina will get “the exit she deserves.”
Rimes speaks passionately about what’s in store for season 10, telling us: “I’m really excited about all our stories. We’ve got some really big stories happening and the two-hour episode premiere is going to be amazing. Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), it’s going to be emotionally, really strong. Owen and Cristina just broke up. Meredith (Pompeo) just had a baby. And then the overarching story of what’s happening with the storm, because I think it’s important to continually challenge our doctors in terms of what they are doing and what they can do.”
Rimes adds that the two-hour premiere, slated for Sept. 26 on ABC, will “pick up right where we left off.”
Of course, Grey’s is no stranger to shocking cast departures. Over the years, T.R. Knight, Isaiah Washington, Katherine Heigl, Chyler Leigh and Eric Dane all have left the series for various reasons. This is the first time we have known so far in advance that a major character is leaving. From the first-season cast, Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey (who recently revealed his “one reason” for staying on the show, his documentary series, Racing LeMans), Chandra Wilson and James Pickering and Justin Chambers remain.
Sandra Oh has decided to leave Grey’s Anatomy when her contract expires at the end of the ABC hit’s upcoming 10th season, TVLine has confirmed.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, which first broke the news, Oh said, “Creatively, I really feel like I gave it my all, and I feel ready to let her go. It’s such an interesting thing to play a character for so long and to actually get the sense that she wants to be let go as well. [Cristina] wants to be let go, and I am ready to let her go. We have to start the process, story-wise, for the Grey’s writers to think of why she’s going to go.”
Series creator Shonda Rhimes, meanwhile, promises Cristina will get “the exit she deserves.”
Oh is one of six Grey’s actors facing expiring contracts in May. Fellow “originals” Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson will also be deciding their GA fates in the coming weeks and months (Pickens’ may be decided for him in the season premiere, when we learned if Richard survived the finale).
“I spoke to [ABC Studios] and asked really clearly that I know sooner rather than later,” Rhimes told TVLine last month. “Last time they kept me guessing up until almost the last minute, which was really stressful. This time I asked to know much sooner, so that we could plan for it.”
As Grey’s Anatomy heads into its 10th season, there’s a very real chance that we could say goodbye to some of our favorite characters as several of the original cast members’ contracts will be up at the end of the season. Still, executive producer Shonda Rhimes says that doesn’t mean it’ll spell the end of the series. TVGuide.com hit up Rhimes again to get her thoughts on possibly saying farewell and what the future holds for the Grey Sloan Memorial docs this season.
If last season was about seeing our favorite doctors as attendings, what would you say this season is about for them?
Shonda Rhimes: Now that they’ve all reached this wonderful place in their lives where they know what they’re doing, they’ve gone from embracing being attendings to having ownership of the hospital. It’s not just that they’re trying to figure out what it is to be attendings and figure out what that means, but in a lot of ways, we have the struggle of, they are now the board of directors at the hospital. It’s ownership of the hospital on top of everything else.
How will Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) handle that responsibility now that they also have kids?
Rhimes: Meredith is juggling an incredible amount of things. She’s one of the board members of the hospital, she’s an attending trying to make a name for herself, she’s got two small children, she’s married, she’s the caretaker of everybody in her life. So, for her, there’s a lot to balance. It’s something they’re going to try to figure out. Meredith and Derek are trying to figure out what this is going to mean for both of them. It’s never going to be a simple thing.
ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee mentioned there is a possibility of you writing some series regulars out this season. How are you preparing for figuring out the end game for some cast members?
Rhimes: What’s nice is I’ve been through this before because we had to try to prepare for it at the end of Season 8. Having been through it before, I have a different attitude about it. I’ve asked very clearly that I’d like to know things sooner rather than later so that I can plan. Every last one of the originals that we have left is very special to me, and if we’re going to have anybody exit, I really wanted the time to plan and write and execute really fitting and beautiful ends for those characters.
Are you looking at Season 10 as the final season?
Rhimes: Nobody sees Season 10 as being our final season, so no.
What steps will Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) take to deal with her PTSD?
Rhimes: I don’t know that Arizona realizes that she has PTSD that needs to be dealt with head-on at this point in time.
Will Callie (Sara Ramirez) try to help Arizona with that?
Rhimes: I don’t know that Callie is in an emotional position to feel like she could help Arizona at this moment in time. I have now just given you more than I’ve given anybody else about Callie and Arizona!
Can they come back from the infidelity?
Rhimes: I think they can. I love these two actresses. They’re so good in this relationship and how they work together. It’s going to be a challenge, and they’re going to have a really challenging, complex time dealing with what’s going on. That’s going to be a journey for them. Whether or not that journey brings them back together or makes them realize that they should be a part, no matter what they’re joined by a child. They’re joined by a shared history, and they’re joined by a hospital that they’re both board members and part-owners of. So, it’s not going to be that easy.
Will Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) actually take steps towards moving on?
Rhimes: Cristina and Owen are going to face the challenge of what happened at the end of last season in a very Cristina and Owen fashion.
What can you tell us about how Alex (Justin Chambers) and Jo (Camilla Luddington) are navigating their new relationship?
Rhimes: Alex obviously has some residual relationship issues from many of his past relationships. But I also wanted this season to have a lot of fun in it, and I wanted it to be funny. Alex and Jo are really charmingly funny together, so we’re having a lot of fun with them as we begin.
Can the same be said for Bailey (Chandra Wilson)? Is she still struggling or will we see her back to form this season?
Rhimes: We watched Bailey get pulled out of where she was when she had to operate on Meredith, which was a really big moment in terms of having a cathartic change on her, which was great. She’s got other challenges this season that we will see.
Grey’s Anatomy returns with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9/8c on ABC.