Patrick Dempsey on His Surprise Grey's Anatomy Return: It Was 'Lovely and Inspiring to Go Back'
"It’s like riding a bike, we just have a chemistry and a dynamic that’s always served us well," said Ellen Pompeo of working with Patrick Dempsey again
WARNING: This article contains spoilers from Thursday’s season 17 premiere of Grey’s Anatomy.
McDreamy is back — in Meredith's dreams, at least!
On Thursday night's season 17 premiere of Grey's Anatomy, fans witnessed quite the shocker when Ellen Pompeo's Meredith Grey collapsed in the hospital parking lot, cutting away to a dream sequence that saw her reunited with Patrick Dempsey's Derek Shepherd. Derek (aka McDreamy) died on the show back in April 2015.
The emotional sequence, set on a picturesque beach, was a welcome return to the show for Dempsey, 54, who told Deadline he hopes the cameo was a pleasant surprise for fans.
"I came across a photo that I was going to post that had Ellen and I, and I think that produced a call where I reached out to Ellen, and this was right around, the conversation was starting for season 17. And Ellen’s like, let’s get together, I want to go over a couple things, I want to catch up," he told the outlet.
"We hadn’t spoken or been together for a while. It was a great opportunity to catch up and say, okay, what can we do for all the frontline responders?" continued Dempsey. "I’ve been tracking what Grey’s had been doing with giving masks, and making sure that people had the right equipment, and it came from that place — okay, what can we do to make people feel better, to give some comfort in this time of uncertainty, and that’s how it began. And it was really a wonderful experience to go back, to work with [director] Debbie [Allen]."
"I think the whole atmosphere has changed, certainly working at the beach, and seeing everybody again was really a very healing process, and really rewarding, and a lot of fun," he said. "And hopefully, that feeling translates, and the fans enjoy it. I know that they’ve been wanting us to get back together, and I think this will satisfy a lot of people, and surprise a lot of people, hopefully."
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Dempsey went on to add that it was "really enjoyable" to get back into character as Derek.
"It was really exciting, and fun, and it was great to see everybody. ...," he said. "The dynamic behind the camera had changed. There’s much more diversity within the crew. There was a nice balance, too, of equality that I was seeing. So, culturally, there was a lot of things that were different, that I thought were very positive and very inspiring, actually."
Pompeo, 51, and Dempsey shot the scene together after being tested for the coronavirus. The lead actress said it "felt great" to reunite with her former costar, who was also on the show since the series start in 2005.
"Patrick and I have this chemistry where I think even from when we first met, for some reason it just felt like we’ve known each other for a hundred years, and it’s just the same feeling," Pompeo told Deadline. "It’s like riding a bike, we just have a chemistry and a dynamic that’s always served us well, and I think we have a genuine affection for each other."
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Dempsey then reflected on the longevity of the drama series: "It’s crazy how much time has passed, but it really was so comforting, and lovely, and inspiring to go back, and to work together, to see everybody. It really was so open too; that was the thing, really — people were very, I think, vulnerable in a positive way, where we were all grateful to be there and to be together."
And his return might not be a one-and-done. The star teased that he would be down for more cameos.
"It was fun, because I really love the message of what the dynamic is in this story," he said. "With everything that we’re dealing with right now, and certainly we have been distracted with the election, but we’re going to get back into the reality of COVID and being in a pandemic, and all the lives that have been lost. Where are these souls going? And I think that’s what attracted me to this storyline, I think it can be really helpful and healing to so many people."
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC