What happened to Patrick Dempsey after he left Grey's Anatomy

Patrick Dempsey quickly became synonymous with his Grey's Anatomy character, Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd. So when the actor left the show in 2015, viewers were understandably devastated and even started an online petition to change creator Shonda Rhimes' mind. "I think it will be very shocking for fans, the way it happens," Dempsey told Entertainment Weekly of his final episode. "It's really going to be powerful. I'm anxious to see what the response will be." 

It wouldn't be a stretch to say that many viewers still feel bereft about his leaving, but as an actor, Dempsey was ready to try new things after eleven seasons on one show. While not all of his projects have gotten a huge response, he's been moving in a different direction these days. But Dempsey understands more than anyone that fans felt a true connection to McDreamy, and by extension, the actor himself. As he revealed to the Evening Standard: "I don't know if it's just the nature of television, or being able to watch something so close on your iPhone or your iPad, that the intimacy or relationship with that character makes them more like a family member ... or a lover." 

Join us while we take a look at what Patrick Dempsey has been up to since he left Grey's Anatomy.

Patrick Dempsey wooed Bridget Jones

One of Patrick Dempsey's first big, post-Grey's Anatomy projects was joining the cast of Bridget Jones's Baby. The actor played a pivotal role in the franchise's third movie, opposite Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth. Fans will know that at the end of second film, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, our heroine is romantically involved with Firth's Mark Darcy. However, by the third installment, Bridget and Mark have split up, and a reconciliation seems all but impossible — which is where Dempsey's character, Jack Qwant, comes in. While attending a music festival, Bridget has a fling with Jack, who is later revealed to be a billionaire and the inventor of a successful dating app. When Bridget falls pregnant, she has to figure out whether Jack or Mark is the father.

In 2016, Dempsey told The Sydney Morning Herald that joining the cast of Bridget Jones's Baby was crucial to his acting prospects. "In my career I have not really achieved what I want and what I feel I can do and where I would like to go," he said. "Bridget Jones was the right next step after Grey's and I'm letting people know I've not quit acting." 

We're more than a little relieved that this unlikely Hollywood heartthrob didn't stop being an actor altogether, and he was most definitely a welcome addition to this classic rom-com trilogy.

This Grey's Anatomy star reconciled with his wife

Before his departure from Grey's Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey's wife, Jillian Dempsey (née Fink), filed for divorce. "It is with careful consideration and mutual respect that we have decided to end our marriage," the Dempseys released in a joint statement to TMZ in January 2015. "Our primary concern remains the well-being of our children, and we ask with profound gratitude that you respect our family's privacy at this very sensitive time." 

However, they eventually decided to give things another go. When asked by the Evening Standard in May 2016 if he'd now reconciled with his wife, Patrick replied, "Yeah, I think so." By that September he told People, "Our marriage was not something I was prepared to let go of. I didn't feel like we had done all the work. And we both wanted to do that work. That's where it started." In fact, it sounds as though the actor's decision to leave his hit TV show may have had something to do with his marital difficulties, as he added, "You can only do one thing at a time and do it well." 

Good Housekeeping reports that Jillian officially called off the divorce in November 2016. 

Dempsey lost touch with his Grey's Anatomy co-stars

Patrick Dempsey may have appeared on Grey's Anatomy for over a decade, but that doesn't mean he's still besties with his former co-stars. Lead actress Ellen Pompeo (who plays Dr. Meredith Grey on the series) revealed in an interview on Red Table Talk that she had "not spoken" with her former on-screen husband since he left. "But I will always have a place in my heart for Patrick," the actress said, having also expressed that she only had the utmost respect for Dempsey: "I have no hard feelings toward him, he's a wonderful actor and we made, you know, the best TV you could make together. That's a talented man right there ... he did 11 amazing years." 

However, whether or not Dempsey is still on good terms with the show's creator, Shonda Rhimes, is less clear due to rumors about his alleged on-set behavior supposedly getting him written off the show. Just ahead of his Grey's Anatomy exit, a source cited by Page Six claimed, "Patrick has been acting like a diva and has clashed with Shonda. She suspended him for a while, and the word on set is that he isn't coming back full time." As everyone knows, Shonda Rhimes has the power to make or break a career.

Patrick Dempsey: film director?

Now that he's no longer working on one of television's most popular shows, Patrick Dempsey has more time on his hands to focus his attention on new creative endeavors. According to the actor, that has meant getting more involved with the content he makes — which might explain why Dempsey hasn't been seen on TV as much in recent years. In 2016, Dempsey told the Independent, "There's a tremendous amount of material I'm developing that is really more cable oriented. I think that would be the thing next — producing and directing and putting the team together, certainly."

To start, Dempsey produced and starred in the TV mini-series The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. Released in 2018, it focuses on a writer embroiled in a murder investigation. Since then, he's continued producing by helping to get the movie version of the novel The Art of Racing in the Rain made. The multi-talent also put on his producing hat for the documentary Hurley, which delves into the personal life of American race car driver Hurley Haywood. 

In 2017, it was rumored that Dempsey would direct a segment of the 2019 anthology movie, Berlin, I Love You (via Screen Daily). While his first directing gig never came to fruition, it might be a sign that Dempsey hopes to move into being a director in the future to develop his own creative projects.

He quit motor racing to save his family

Patrick Dempsey's greatest passion may not be acting, but rather motor racing. However, following reports that his wife had filed for divorce due to "the strain of his motoring obsession" (via the Evening Standard), the actor decided to take some time out from the sport to focus on his family, telling the publication, "I've sort of stepped back — I'm the team owner [of Dempsey Racing]."

Dempsey confirmed his decision to hit pause on motor racing in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald: "It's an incredible sport and I would love to do nothing more than that. But it's all-consuming and I have three children and I don't want to give up that moment in time because they will be out the door and gone before you know it." According to Motorsport.com, Dempsey left his motor racing career after some major accomplishments, having won "the Fuji round of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship" and taken second place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At the time of this writing, whether Dempsey plans to return to racing in some form in the future remains uncertain.

Patrick Dempsey designed a McDreamy clothing collection

Clearly not satisfied with being an actor, producer, director, and successful motor racing driver, Patrick Dempsey decided to break into the world of fashion, too. In 2018, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the former Grey's Anatomy star had collaborated with Bleusalt to launch a sustainable clothing line. "I live in my Bleusalt and it was a pleasure to design a collection of my own that I could wear all day, every day, whether I'm lounging around the house, going out, or traveling," the heartthrob explained in a statement. "I hope you enjoy this collection as much as I do." The capsule collection featured six items in gray and sandy shades, with price points ranging from $50 up to $350.

According to its official website, the Bleusalt brand had been set up the year before by Lyndie Benson, a Malibu resident passionate about using "the sustainable botanic fibers of the beech tree" to create environmentally-friendly, chic clothing. WWD reports that Dempsey's collaboration happened organically as he and wife Jillian are neighbors of Benson and became part of a celebrity contingent, along with the likes of Kris Jenner and Cindy Crawford, who helped to promote the brand in its early days. Per WWD, "Dempsey suggested designing a collection of pieces that could take him from beach to plane to meeting without ever having to change." 

Basically, we can all dress like the famous actor now and feel good about it, which is great news!

The Grey's Anatomy star opened up about his dyslexia diagnosis

In November 2019, Patrick Dempsey was invited to be the No Hate November keynote speaker at Bowdoin College's David Saul Smith Union. Created by the student government "to incite conversations about identity and inclusivity on campus," per The Bowdoin Orient, the actor was invited to speak on "dyslexia and the challenges of growing up with a learning disability." In an impassioned discussion, Dempsey opened up about how his own dyslexia diagnosis impacted his education and subsequent career after dropping out of high school and moving to New York to pursue acting.

"A standardized system of education does not work for everyone. And that's okay," the actor said (via The Bowdoin Orient). Of his role on Grey's Anatomy, Dempsey explained, "I would dread going to work. The medical terminology during table reads was painful." As for how the condition affected his life and career even then, the Made of Honor star revealed, "I don't want to explain my disability to anyone [which makes] it hard to ask for help sometimes. But you always have to ask for help." 

He helped raise $1.2 million for the Dempsey Center

Amid his late mother's longtime battle with cancer in 2008, Patrick Dempsey founded the Dempsey Center in his hometown of Lewiston, Maine to support those living with the disease and their families by offering quality of life care at zero cost. Opening up about the organization to People following The Atlantic's People v. Cancer event in November 2019, the actor said, "I'm really grateful to be a part of this, and to see the impact of the center is making within the community and the state of Maine is a beautiful thing."

As for why it was important for the star to give back to the community that helped his mother, Dempsey said at the event (via People), "When there is a cancer diagnosis in the family, it's devastating and you're never the same after that — you're changed in a profound way." He continued, "But through her experience, we've created the Dempsey Center in her memory, and hopefully we're improving people's lives." 

Since founding the center, the actor has also initiated the Dempsey Challenge, which encourages people to walk, run, or bike for charity. In October 2019, the event raised over $1.2 million. Dempsey might not be a TV doctor anymore, but he's still standing up for patients in his advocacy work.

Patrick Dempsey's collaborating on an international scale

In addition to moving behind the scenes on his television and movie projects, Patrick Dempsey has also made a conscious effort to work with international partners. While speaking with Deadline at the October 2019 premiere of his Sky Italia thriller Devils, the actor explained, "Everyone's making their own projects from France to Italy, they're no longer just waiting for the American market so I think it's really important that we start collaborating internationally and use [our] visibility to cross pollinate." He added, "It's an incredible time because there are so many stories to be told, depending on which country you're from with young filmmakers and writers." 

Using Devils, which is based on a popular novel by Italian trader Guido Maria Brera, as an example, Dempsey went on to say, "It's an international story and has a different perspective on the financial world to the one that we're used to, usually from the American perspective." Working abroad also presented a new challenge for Dempsey: "I love being in Europe and you want to do something different ... You go from the guy everybody loves to the guy you're not sure about." No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Considering how Dempsey is a free agent, having left his busy role at Grey's Anatomy behind him, it seems that this actor is intent on embarking upon new adventures with unexpected collaborators, both at home and abroad.

He's out there teasing an Enchanted sequel

Disney's Enchanted came out in 2007 and was arguably a precursor to the studio's success with live-action versions of its classic movies. The film tells the story of Princess Giselle (played by Amy Adams), who has to leave the animated world of Andalasia for New York City. While James Marsden portrays the stereotypical prince, Patrick Dempsey plays divorce attorney Robert Philip, the cynical love interest Giselle meets in the real world. 

A sequel to the movie has long been rumored, but it's not yet come to fruition. However, in a 2018 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Dempsey suggested that he'd return for a second movie should it happen: "I think it's such a beloved movie we need to make sure it's right before we move forward." Adding further fuel to the sequel speculation, he revealed that the team at Disney was apparently "in the process of working on the book, the lyrics and the musical aspects." For Dempsey, the return of the original cast would be key, as he went on to explain, "Amy [Adams] was remarkable in that film and she's an incredible actress and James Marsden as well. We'll see, I hope it can live up to what we did originally, that's the important thing. If it happens, then we do it." 

Here's hoping that Disney's Enchanted finally gets its much-needed and longed-for sequel, after all.

Patrick Dempsey has reassessed his hopes and dreams

Since he left Grey's Anatomy in 2015, Patrick Dempsey's life has undergone some major changes — and it seems as though the actor has reevaluated what's important to him, from his marriage to his acting career. While speaking to ABC News about life after leaving the hit TV show, he said, "I have time to feel and think and be much more thoughtful in the choices I make." Dempsey added, "Before, you were on such a treadmill, just trying to keep up. It's like running a marathon. You're just trying to get to the finish line. And that's not to be disrespectful for the opportunity."

In 2018, the Can't Buy Me Love star opened up about the future, telling Instyle, "I feel optimistic about what's still to come. And I try to remind myself to be in the present, not worry about the past or the future." 

Whatever happens in Dempsey's next chapter, it sounds as though the well-liked actor is more than ready to take on the challenge. And even though he's not playing a Grey's Anatomy heartthrob any longer, McDreamy's fans are sure to be with him every step of the way.