During 11 seasons of playing Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey amassed a slew of die-hard supporters — and now, some are speaking out on his behalf.
Dempsey, 55, is back in Hollywood’s hot seat as a new unauthorized biography, How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, claims he was killed off the show in 2015 for diva-like tantrums and tension with costar Ellen Pompeo and show creator Shonda Rhimes.
But a source insists that Dempsey has been unfairly portrayed as a villain when in reality, the family man and father-of-three simply wearied of the job’s long hours.
“He’d regularly work six days a week, 16 hours a day, and it took a huge toll on him,” says the source.
“He just wanted to have a semblance of a personal life, to be more present for his wife and children. But when he stood up for himself, he was labeled as being difficult and a bully,” the insider continues.
Around the time he was written off the show, he was also weathering rumors of an affair with an on-set intern — “he vehemently denies it, and has no idea how the rumor got started,” says the source — and the fraying of his 22-year marriage to makeup artist Jillian Fink. (Though she filed for divorce, the pair reconciled in 2016.)
“He was constantly working for years, and he says it’s a shock Jillian didn’t leave him sooner,” dishes the source.
“Once he was off Grey’s, he was able to put the time into his relationship, and that saved his marriage,” the source explains.
He’s also funneled energy into passion projects as the co-owner of a race car team and car collector. But even with his personal life finally sorted and work-life balance restored, “it still irks him that the show’s demands nearly cost him his family and that he somehow got blamed for trying to stand up for himself,” says the source. “It’s so unfair.”