One executive producer said Patrick Dempsey “knew he could stop production and scare people,” on the set of Grey’s Anatomy. Yikes.
In a new book detailing the behind-the-scenes drama of Grey’s Anatomy, author Lynette Rice reveals that there was a lot more behind Patrick Dempsey’s departure in season 11 than we thought. For her book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, Rice spoke to roughly 80 cast and crew members who said “diva-like fits and tension [with] Pompeo,” is why Dempsey, AKA Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, left the show — and that seems like a nice way of putting it.
The Hollywood Reporter ran an expert of Rice’s damning new book, and executive producer James D. Parriott, who was specifically brought onto production during Dempsey’s season 11 exit as a sort of “veritable Dempsey whisperer,” explained the issues other cast members and crew had with Dempsey.
Everyone knew that Dempsey made the show, but still found themselves frustrated with his onset behavior.
“There were HR issues. It wasn’t sexual in any way. He sort of was terrorizing the set. Some cast members had all sorts of PTSD with him. 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,” Parriott explained.
Producer Jeannine Renshaw further detailed the mood on set, especially the dynamic between Dempsey and costar Ellen Pompeo, AKA Meredith Grey. “”There were times where Ellen was frustrated with Patrick and she would get angry that he wasn’t working as much. 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. When I brought it up to Patrick, I would say, ‘Look around you. These people have been here since six thirty a.m.’ He would go, ‘Oh, yeah.'”
Eventually, enough was enough — and McDreamy was written off.
“A lot of the complaining … I think Shonda finally witnessed it herself, and that was the final straw. 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,” Renshaw said. One crew member advocated for Dempsey, noting that Dempsey was so miserable” and had “no one to talk to.”
“I’m not defending his schtick. I like him, but he was the Lone Ranger. All of these actresses were getting all this power. All the rogue actresses would go running to Shonda and say, “Hey, Patrick’s doing this. Patrick’s late for work. He’s a nightmare.” He was just shut out in the cold. His behavior wasn’t the greatest, but he had nowhere to go. He was so miserable. He had no one to talk to. When Sandra [Oh] left, I remember him telling me, “I should’ve left then, but I stayed on because they showed me all this money. They just were dumping money on me.”
In the excerpt, Dempsey himself also cites the absurd amount of cash as a reason for staying in a miserable situation.
“It [was] hard to say no to that kind of money. How do you say no to that? It’s remarkable to be a working actor, and then on top of that to be on a show that’s visible. And then on top of that to be on a phenomenal show that’s known around the world, and play a character who is beloved around the world. It’s very heady,” he shares. “It [was] a lot to process, and not wanting to let that go, because you never know whether you will work again and have success again.”
Um, grab us the world’s smallest violin. Read the whole excerpt over on THR.