Patrick Dempsey has been accused of ‘terrorizing the set’ of Grey’s Anatomy and even giving some castmates ‘PTSD.’
The people behind the his medical drama opened up about the dark side of Dr. McDreamy in the unauthorized oral history of the hit medical drama by author Lynette Rice, How to Save a Life: The Inside Story Of Grey’s Anatomy
In a scathing excerpt from the book published by The Hollywood Reporter, executive producer James D. Parriott explained how the ‘HR issues’ eventually lead to Dempsey’s character getting killed off in 2015 during the tail end of season 11.
‘There were HR issues. It wasn’t sexual in any way. He sort of was terrorizing the set, Parriot – one of the book’s 80-plus sources – said. ‘Some cast members had all sorts of PTSD with him.’
On set terror? Patrick Dempsey has been accused of ‘terrorizing the set’ of Grey’s Anatomy and even giving certain castmates ‘PTSD’ from their experiences with him
Patrick, 55, came into the production as the biggest name, giving him instant influence.
And when his character Dr. Derek Shepherd – leading lady Meredith Grey’s love interest – became primetime’s favorite heartthrob, his impact on set only increased.
(‘He’s McDreamy. He’s the perfect man,’ Parriott recalled creator Shonda Rhimes saying.)
His natural charm made him well-liked by many, with writer/producer Jeannine Renshaw recalling: ‘We all love Patrick. Patrick is a sweetheart.’
But some remembered him having too much sway over the production, with Parriott saying: ‘He had this hold on the set where he knew he could stop production and scare people.’
‘The network and studio came down and we had sessions with them. I think he was just done with the show. He didn’t like the inconvenience of coming in every day and working. He and Shonda were at each other’s throats.’
That tension boiled over into his relationship with his on-screen love/later-wife Ellen Pompeo, who became ‘frustrated with Patrick’ and ‘would get angry that he wasn’t working as much,’ according to Renshaw.
Frustrated: On-screen love interest Ellen Pompeo became ‘frustrated with Patrick’ and ‘would get angry that he wasn’t working as much,’ according to one insider
No chemistry off-screen: ‘She was very big on having things be fair,’ an insider said. ‘She just didn’t like that Patrick would complain that “I’m here too late” or “I’ve been here too long” when she had twice as many scenes in the episode as he did’
‘She was very big on having things be fair. She just didn’t like that Patrick would complain that “I’m here too late” or “I’ve been here too long” when she had twice as many scenes in the episode as he did,’ she explained, later defending him by saying: ‘He would get it. It’s just that actors tend to see things from their own perspective.’
Dempsey himself remembered how grueling the shooting schedule was, saying: ‘It’s ten months, fifteen hours a day. You never know your schedule, so your kid asks you, “What are you doing on Monday?” And you go, “I don’t know,” because I don’t know my schedule. Doing that for eleven years is challenging.’
But complaints from crew and co-stars continued to stack up and as Dempsey’s relationship with Rhimes soured, his days on the show became numbered.
‘I think Shonda finally witnessed it herself, and that was the final straw,’ Renshaw said. ‘
Shonda had to say to the network, “If he doesn’t go, I go.” Nobody wanted him to leave, because he was the show. Him and Ellen,’ she continued, adding: ‘Patrick is a sweetheart. It messes you up, this business.’
Different take: Dempsey himself remembered how grueling the shooting schedule was, saying: ‘It’s ten months, fifteen hours a day… Doing that for eleven years is challenging’
According to Parriott, the show crafted several storylines to try and keep Dempsey, including one where his character would stay in Washington, DC so he could shoot completely separately from Pompeo and others.
But the network ‘ultimately decided that just bringing him back was going to be too hard on the other actors,’ said Parriot.
‘The studio just said it was going to be more trouble than it was worth and decided to move on.’
Patrick’s final scenes were filmed at a Hawthorne, California hospital, 22-miles away from the show’s home studio in order to keep his character’s death a secret.
And his on-set exit came with little-to-no fanfare, with castmate James Pickens, Jr., previously telling ABC News the cast ‘didn’t know a whole lot.’
‘It was kind of on the fly. So whatever information we got, we pretty much got it kind of right before it happened.’
Ouster: ‘I think Shonda finally witnessed it herself, and that was the final straw,’ writer/producer Renshaw said of creator Rhimes, seen above in 2020
Producer/director Rob Hardy remembered: ‘I didn’t see other actors showing up and saying, “Hey, it’s the last day! Wanted to come and wish you well.” I didn’t get that. It was more the Patrick show.’
Rather than talk about working with Dempsey, Rhimes chose to remember Dr. Shepard, saying: ‘ Derek Shepherd is and will always be an incredibly important character—for Meredith, for me, and for the fans.
‘I absolutely never imagined saying goodbye to our McDreamy. Patrick Dempsey’s performance shaped Derek in a way that I know we both hope became a meaningful example— happy, sad, romantic, painful, and always true—of what young women should demand from modern love. His loss will be felt by all.’
Dempsey’s McDreamy would make a return to the series in November 2020 in a dream sequence.
Patrick first made his mark in the 80s, leading the teen rom-com Can’t Buy Me Love (1987) and Loverboy (1989.)
Most recently he’s appeared in the business drama Devils, which debuted its first season last April.
The actor has been married twice and has three children with second wife Jillian Fink.
In January 2015, Fink filed for divorce, but the couple reconciled later in the year and called off their divorce on November 12, 2016.
Married man: The actor has been married twice and has three children with second wife Jillian Fink, seen above in 2017 at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party above