“The timing for Patrick’s return had finally come. He was extremely professional, friendly, funny, and his chemistry with Ellen [Pompeo] was still there,” a source tells Us Weekly exclusively. “The crew enjoyed the time with Patrick, and there was a lot of catching up.”
The source added that the Grey’s Anatomy team are “a big family and Patrick may have left it for a bit, but as families do, they come back together. It was extremely heartfelt and organic to watch it all.”
The Bridget Jones’s Baby actor, 54, exited the long-running medical drama in April 2015 after portraying Dr. Derek Shepherd (a.k.a. McDreamy) for nearly 11 years. In his final episode, his character died after a tragic car crash.
This month, Dempsey’s deceased character returned to the show for its season 17 premiere. During the episode’s final moments, Meredith Grey (Pompeo) was found unconscious in a hospital parking lot. When they cut to her thought process in her mind, Meredith was reuniting with her former husband, Derek (Dempsey), on the beach.
After the episode aired, Pompeo, 51, told Deadline that having the reunion occur amid a time of “so much darkness” was meant to serve as a “ray of light” for longtime fans. Dempsey, for his part, said that they “had a ball” filming the special moment.
“I think the whole atmosphere has changed, certainly working at the beach, and seeing everybody again was really a very healing process, and really rewarding, and a lot of fun,” he explained to the publication on Thursday. “And hopefully, that feeling translates, and the fans enjoy it. I know that they’ve been wanting us to get back together, and I think this will satisfy a lot of people, and surprise a lot of people, hopefully.”
Following his departure in 2015, the Can’t Buy Me Love actor spoke with Entertainment Weekly about how his dramatic exit came to be. “It just sort of unfolded in a very organic way,” he said at the time. “I don’t remember the date. It was not in the fall. Maybe February or March. It happened very quickly.”
Dempsey also noted that being on the acclaimed series impacted his personal life, adding, “It’s 10 months, 15 hours a day. You never know your schedule, so your kid asks you, ‘What are you doing on Monday?’ and you go, ‘I don’t know,’ because I don’t know my schedule. Doing that for 11 years is challenging. … What I would like to do is focus on not being spread so thin. Those days are over!”
Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.