Patrick Galen Dempsey (born January 13, 1966) is an American actor and race car driver, known for his role as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd ("McDreamy") on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy. He has also recently appeared in several films, including Sweet Home Alabama, The Emperor's Club, Freedom Writers, Enchanted, Made of Honor, and Valentine's Day.

Early life

Dempsey was born in Lewiston, Maine, and grew up in Buckfield, Maine, the youngest of three children born to Amanda and William Dempsey.[1][2] He has Irish ancestry.[3] Dempsey attended St. Dominic Regional High School for his senior year, where his mother worked as a secretary, but dropped out before he graduated. He was an adept juggler, tying for second in a national juggling competition.[4] He was also an accomplished skier and while in high school won the Maine state slalom championship. Dempsey spent some of his school years in the town of Turner, Maine, where he attended Leavitt Area High School in the Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) #52 for his freshman through junior years.[citation needed]

Dempsey was diagnosed with dyslexia at age twelve. He told Barbara Walters on her 2008 Oscar special that he thinks dyslexia "made him what he is today." “It’s given me a perspective of — you have to keep working,” Dempsey told Walters. “I have never given up.”[5]


Early career

Dempsey was discovered by an invitation to audition for a role in the stage production of Torch Song Trilogy. His audition was successful, and he spent the following four months touring with the company in Philadelphia. Dempsey also appeared on ABC family on a show Overnight Success by Teri DeSario, where he sings and juggles. He followed this with another tour, Brighton Beach Memoirs, in the lead role, which was directed by Gene Saks. Dempsey has also made notable appearances in the stage productions of On Golden Pond, with the Maine Acting Company, and as Timmy (the Martin Sheen role) in a 1990 Off-Broadway revival of The Subject Was Roses co-starring with John Mahoney and Dana Ivey at the Roundabout Theatre in New York.

Dempsey's first major feature film role was at age 21 with Beverly D'Angelo in the movie In The Mood, the real life WW2 story about Ellsworth Wisecarver who had relationships with older married women which created a national uproar. This was followed by the teen comedy Can't Buy Me Love in 1987 with actress Amanda Peterson and Some Girls with Jennifer Connelly in 1988. This film was a flop. In 1989, he had the lead role in the film Loverboy with actress Kirstie Alley and Happy Together with actress Helen Slater. Although the teen comedy and romance roles led to Dempsey being somewhat typecast for a time, he was able to avoid playing the same character as his career progressed[citation needed].

1990s and 2000s

Dempsey made a number of featured appearances in television in the 1990s; he was cast several times in pilots that were not picked up for a full season, including lead roles in the TV versions of the films The Player and About A Boy. However he received good reviews[citation needed] as he portrayed real-life mob boss, Meyer Lansky in 1991, when Mobsters was put on the screen. His first major television role was a recurring role as Will's closeted sportscaster boyfriend on Will & Grace. He went on to play the role of Aaron Brooks, Lily & Judy's psychologically unbalanced brother, on Once & Again. Dempsey received an Emmy nomination in 2001 as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the role of Aaron. In 1993, he played a young John F. Kennedy in the 2-part TV mini-series JFK: Reckless Youth. In 2004, he co-starred in the highly acclaimed HBO production, Iron Jawed Angels, opposite Hilary Swank and Anjelica Huston. He also appeared as special guest star in The Practice for 3 episodes finale season (8x13-8x15), as a married man who murdered his lover.

Dempsey had a high-profile role as one of the suitors for Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama. He also had a role as Detective Kincaid on Scream 3. When Scream 4 was officially announced, it was speculated Dempsey would return. But in late April, writer Kevin Williamson confirmed the 3 main cast members who had survived the other 3 movies were the only returning characters. Dempsey's most recent roles include the 2007 Disney film Enchanted, and the Paramount Pictures film Freedom Writers where he reunites with his Iron Jawed Angels co-star Hilary Swank. He also voiced the character Kenai in Brother Bear 2.

Dempsey starred in the 2008 film Made of Honor as Tom, and appeared in 2010's romantic comedy Valentine's Day; the latter film, directed by Garry Marshall, follows five interconnecting stories about Los Angelinos anticipating (or in some cases dreading) the holiday of love.[6]

Dempsey has acquired the rights to the prize-winning novel The Art of Racing in the Rain and will produce and star in the screen version. The film will go into production in 2010. He has also signed on to star in the 2011 movie Transformers: The Dark of the Moon.[7][8]

Grey's Anatomy

Main article: Grey's Anatomy

Dempsey has received significant public attention for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd in the drama Grey's Anatomy. Prior to landing the role of Derek Shepherd, Dempsey auditioned for the role of Dr. Gregory House on another medical show, House. Initially a midseason replacement, the show was very well received and has become a highly rated program. Media attention has been focused on Dempsey's character Derek, often referred to as "McDreamy", for his sex appeal and the character's romance with intern Meredith Grey (played by Ellen Pompeo). Also in a one-off episode of Private Practice, playing the same character as in Grey's Anatomy[9].

Dempsey was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama at the 2006 Golden Globes for the role. His success on the show has led to his becoming a spokesman for Mazda and State Farm Insurance. He has been the face of L'Oreal and Versace and was featured in ads for Serengeti sun glasses. In November 2008 he launched an Avon fragrance named Unscripted, and due to its success a second fragrance named Patrick Dempsey 2 was launched in October 2009.[dated info]

Personal life


Dempsey at the 2008 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona

He has been married twice. In 1987, he married actress and acting coach Rocky Parker, who appeared with Dempsey in the film In the Mood. The couple divorced in 1994.

On July 31, 1999, Dempsey married Jillian Fink, founder of Delux Beauty. The couple have three children: a daughter, Talula Fyfe, born on February 20, 2002, and twin sons Darby Galen and Sullivan Patrick, born on February 1, 2007. The family resides in Malibu and also have homes in Maine and Texas.

Dempsey was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 12. As a result, it is necessary for him to memorize all his lines in order to perform, even for auditions where he was unlikely to get the part.[10][11]

Entertainment Weekly put Dempsey's hair on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "What made Grey's Anatomy a mega-medi-hit? It could have something to do with creator Shonda Rhimes' scalpel-sharp writing…or McDreamy's impossibly luxurious mane. Just saying."[12]

Race car driver

Dempsey enjoys auto racing in his spare time, having driven the pace car in the Indianapolis 500, and raced in the Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race and Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race. He is currently the co-owner of IndyCar Series team Vision Racing and Dempsey Racing, which is presently racing two Mazda RX-8 cars in the Rolex Grand Am series, GT class. Sports Car Series]]. He participates in this series as often as his schedule allows as he is unable to race while filming a movie due to insurance issues. In 2009, he raced a Team Seattle Advanced Engineering Ferrari F430 GT in the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans's GT2 class, and finished 9th in class. [13]

Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing

In 1997, Dempsey's mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was treated for the disease and had two relapses and had it treated another two times. In response to his mother's bouts with cancer, Dempsey helped start the Patrick Dempsey Center in his home town of Lewiston, Maine. In October 2009 when Dempsey introduced the first Dempsey Challenge, registration was closed after reaching the goal of 3,500 cyclists, runners and walkers. The event raised more than one million dollars for the center and will become an annual event in the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine, area.


Year Film Role Notes
1985 The Stuff Underground Stuff buyer #2
Heaven Help Us Corbet
1986 Meatballs III: Summer Job Rudy
1987 Can't Buy Me Love Ronald Miller Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy
In the Mood Ellsworth 'Sonny' Wisecarver
1988 Some Girls Michael
In a Shallow Grave Daventry Limited release
1989 Loverboy Randy Bodek
Happy Together Christopher Wooden
1990 Coupe de Ville Robert 'Bobby' Libner
1991 Mobsters Meyer Lansky
Run Charlie Farrow
1993 Bank Robber Billy
1994 With Honors Everett Calloway
Ava's Magical Adventure Jeffrey
1995 Outbreak Jimbo Scott
1997 Hugo Pool Floyd Gaylen Limited release
1998 Denial Sam
The Treat Mike Jonathan Gems film
There's No Fish Food in Heaven The Stranger aka Life in the Fast Lane
1999 Me and Will Fast Eddie
2000 Scream 3 Det. Mark Kincaid
2002 Sweet Home Alabama Andrew Hennings
The Emperor's Club Older Louis Masoudi
2006 Brother Bear 2 Kenai Voice only
Shade Paul Parker Short film
2007 Freedom Writers Scott Casey
Enchanted Robert Philip Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (with Amy Adams)
2008 Made of Honor Tom Bailey
2010 Valentine's Day Harrison Copeland
2011 Transformers: The Dark of the Moon Dylan Dempsey revealed he will play a character who is far more 'dark' than others
Son of Tobor TBA
Year Title Role Notes
1986 A Fighting Choice Kellin Taylor TV movie
Fast Times Mike Damone Television series
1989 The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! The Plant 1 episode
1990 The General Motors Playwrights Theater 1 episode "Merry Christmas, Baby"
1993 For Better and for Worse Robert Faldo TV movie
JFK: Reckless Youth John F. Kennedy Miniseries
1995 Bloodknot Tom TV movie
1996 The Right to Remain Silent Tom Harris TV movie
A Season in Purgatory Harrison Burns Miniseries
1997 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Pierre Arronax Miniseries
The Escape Clayton TV movie
The Player Griffin Mill TV movie
1998 The Bible: Jeremiah Jeremiah TV movie
Crime and Punishment Rodya Raskolnikov
2000 Will and Grace Matthew 2000–2001 (3 episodes)
2000 Once and Again Aaron Brooks 2000–2002 (4 episodes)
Nominated—Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
2001 Blonde Cass Miniseries
2003 Lucky 7 Peter Connor
Karen Sisco Carl 1 episode
About a Boy Carl TV movie
2004 Iron Jawed Angels Ben Weissman TV movie
The Practice Dr. Paul Stewart 3 episodes
2005–present Grey's Anatomy Derek Shepherd 2005–present (110 episodes)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast in a Drama Series (2006)
People's Choice Award for Favorite Male TV Star (2007, 2008)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series (2005, 2006)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast in a Drama Series (2006, 2008)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series (2005)
Nominated—People's Choice Award for Favorite Male TV Star (2009)
2009 Private Practice Derek Shepherd TV episode ("The Ex-Life")
2011 The Alex Vaillancourt Show TBA


  1. Patrick Dempsey Biography (1956–)
  2. "'McDreamy' Could Have Been a Schlossnagle"
  3. "100 Top Irish-Americans!!!". Rincenatiarna. 2006-03-17. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  4. 1981 Juniors Championship of the International Jugglers' Association (IJA),
  5. [1]
  6. Matt Mitovich (08 July y2009). "Grey's Stars Dempsey and Dane Celebrate Valentine's Day". Retrieved 2009-07-08.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. "Patrick Dempsey & Transformers – McDreamy’s Transforming Role". National Ledger. May 6, 2010. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  8. Patrick Dempsey: From McDreamy To ‘Transformers 3’
  9. "Greys Anatomy". Grey's Anatomy = ____.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help);
  10. USA WEEKEND Magazine
  11. Patrick Dempsey Reveals His Dyslexia
  12. Geier, Thom; Jensen, Jeff; Jordan, Tina; Lyons, Margaret; Markovitz, Adam; Nashawaty, Chris; Pastorek, Whitney; Rice, Lynette; Rottenberg, Josh; Schwartz, Missy; Slezak, Michael; Snierson, Dan; Stack, Tim; Stroup, Kate; Tucker, Ken; Vary, Adam B.; Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Ward, Kate (December 11, 2009), "THE 100 Greatest MOVIES, TV SHOWS, ALBUMS, BOOKS, CHARACTERS, SCENES, EPISODES, SONGS, DRESSES, MUSIC VIDEOS, AND TRENDS THAT ENTERTAINED US OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS". Entertainment Weekly. (1079/1080):74-84
  13. Gigawave replaced by SAE at Le Mans

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:IMDb name

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