Patrick Dempsey is blown away by the reception he’s gotten after coming back to “Grey’s Anatomy” in a surprise appearance last week that stunned viewers.
On Wednesday’s episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the actor explained how his return came to be following a conversation over the summer with series star Ellen Pompeo, who plays his widow on the ABC drama.
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“We hadn’t spoken in quite some time, so we were playing catch-up," he said. "And she goes, ‘What do you think about coming back onto the show? Here’s our idea of what we want to do for season 17.’ I was like, what a great opportunity for people and how great it would be for the fans, really, to see everybody reunited in this sort of bizarre way.”
Dempsey, 54, achieved heartthrob status playing Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd on the show, which he departed from after his character was killed off in 2015 during the 11th season of the series. He said his return to the drama was kept under lock and key.
"Nobody knew about it other than ABC, of course, some people at ABC, (series showrunner) Krista (Vernoff), and then Ellen (Pompeo) and myself. And that was it," he said. "And then we started talking to the directors, which would be Debbie Allen, who's amazing, and Kevin McKidd, who's one of the directors that I worked with. And that was it."
"No one knew until I showed up on set that day," Dempsey continued. "And then we were really concerned that someone would take a picture and it would get out somehow, but we managed to keep it a secret, which was pretty phenomenal. The impact — the response has been incredibly overwhelming and very moving.”
Dempsey also said viewers have not seen the last of McDreamy.
"I'm not sure how many," he said, when asked how many episodes he'll be in going forward. "I know I'm throughout the season. He comes back to visit.”
Dempsey’s revelation that he's going to stick around was confirmed by "Grey's Anatomy" showrunner Krista Vernoff.
“We will see more of (Derek) this season. This was not just a cameo. He will appear three more times,” she told the Los Angeles Times last week.
“What it felt like was a homecoming,” she added about Dempsey's return to the show.