Patrick Galen Dempsey (born January 13, 1966) is a Golden Globe Award-nominated American actor who first became prominent in Hollywood during the late 1980s. He is also known for his role as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd (Dr. McDreamy) on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy. During the 2000s, he also appeared in several film roles, including The Emperor's Club, Freedom Writers, Enchanted and Made of Honor.
Dempsey, an Irish American, was born in Lewiston, Maine and grew up in Turner, Maine, the youngest of three children born to Amanda and William Dempsey.Dempsey attended St. Dominic Regional High School for his senior year, but dropped out before he graduated. He was an adept juggler, tying for second in a national juggling competition. Dempsey also spent some of his school years in the town of Buckfield, Maine, where he attended Buckfield High School in the Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) #39 for his freshman through junior years.
Dempsey was discovered by an agent and invited 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 San Francisco. Dempsey also appeared on MTV on a show Overnight Success by Teri DeSario, where he dances 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 1991 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. 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.
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 as he portrayed real-life mob boss, Meyer Lansky in 1991, when Mobsters were put on the screen. His first major television role in tv series 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 was convincing as 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. 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 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).
The intense media attention has included coverage of some backstage friction. News reports surfaced in October 2006 that Dempsey was involved in an argument with co-star Isaiah Washington that appears to have become a physical altercation. News reports have also stated that this argument may have been initiated over Washington referring to T.R. Knight as a "faggot."
Dempsey was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama at the 2007 Golden Globes for the role. In 2006 Dempsey signed a contract with ABC raising his salary to $225,000 per episode. His success on the show has led to him becoming a spokesman for Mazda and the new model for Versace. He is currently working with Avon to launch a fragrance, due out in November 2008.
Dempsey has been married twice. In 1987, he married actress and acting coach Rochelle "Rocky" Parker, who appeared with Dempsey in the film In the Mood. At the time of their marriage, Dempsey was 21 years old, while Parker was 48, with a son, Corey Parker, who was one year Dempsey's senior. The couple divorced in 1994.
On July 31, 1999, Dempsey married Jillian Fink, a Connecticut resident and founder of Delux Beauty. The couple has three children: a daughter, Tallulah Fyfe, born in February 20, 2002, and twin sons Darby Galen and Sullivan Patrick, born on February 1, 2007.
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 and Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. He is currently the co-owner of IndyCar Series team Vision Racing. In 2008 he will be competing in 5 of the 12 Rolex Sports Car Series racing series races.
Dempsey was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 12. As a result, he is forced to memorize all his lines in order to perform, even for auditions where he was unlikely to get the part.