Seattle’s finest TV surgeon is taking the wheel in a highoctane blockbuster, writes Neala Johnson
McDreamy races into a new role.
Q: What’s a typical day in the Patrick Dempsey household when you’re out of season on
A: I just got back from Le Mans, trying to put our package together for next season to race in the 24-hour [ car race]. And trying to keep the kids busy. So long as they’re not fighting each other. Q: Is car racing taking over your life? It’s seeping into your movies – you play a driver
in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.
A: It’s all becoming a wonderful merger. It certainly helped on
Transformers. We ran into each other, [ director/ producer] Michael Bay and I, at a Ferrari event. That was two years ago. He said, ‘‘ You should come and talk to me about the movie’’. We hit it off straight away. I met him out of the work environment and then I heard stories. Q: Bay does have a reputation. Megan Fox compared his directing style to Hitler. Did you investigate before signing on? A: Well, it was after I’d signed on. Shia [ LaBeouf] was like, ‘‘ Just you wait’’. I was like, ‘‘ What do you mean?’’ [ laughs]. It was so ominous. But Michael was very clear with me, like, ‘‘ I expect you to be there at 7 o’clock in the morning, you’re not gonna sit in your trailer. I move quickly, you never know what I’m doing and I want you to be ready to move’’. I took him seriously at that. He was always clear on what he wanted and knew how to motivate people. Q: You said yes after reading only the first draft of the script. What did you like about it so immediately? A: What’s interesting is the juxtaposition between the humanity and the Autobots and Decepticons. If you’re judging by the second movie, this is much more elevated. It doesn’t have the adolescent mentality. [ Bay] was very set on dispelling that in the second one. Q: Even after 25 years making movies and TV, were you surprised at the scale of
A: I was blown away by the scale. We really took over Chicago for four or five months. I mean, really
massive. The sheer organisation – they took care of the fans, of the local government, the police . . . Q: What’s your impression of Shia LaBeouf? He’s a young guy carrying a big franchise.
A: You look at when he started, he was such a young kid and he emerged into a young man through this trilogy. He loves acting and he works really hard at a character. He’s very intelligent, very articulate. Q: How would you compare the way the 25-year-old Patrick dealt with fame to the way Shia is? A: He’s doing much, much better than I did. Q: You say you got ‘‘ a nice taste’’ of action on this film. Is that the appeal, to show you’re more than just TV’s Dr McDreamy? A: Without question. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities Grey’s has given me, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity, probably, without it. It’s nice to know that is one side of my nature but there are other
sides I’m not yet allowed to show and I hope to get to show in the future. Q: You’ve started producing films including the indie
Flypaper, which screened at Sundance. Is producing a way to create projects to show these other sides? A: Absolutely. If you look at the careers that sustain themselves, they’re all about how to redefine yourself. Q: You’re producing another movie with a car-racing link – an adaptation of the bestseller
The Art of Racing in the Rain.
A: Yeah, I really want to make that within the next year. It came to me prior to the book being released, and I was like, ‘‘ Oh this is great, I can do racing and it’s a drama at the same time’’. Then every time I went to the track everybody kept coming up to me going, ‘‘ Have you heard of this book?’’. [ Laughs]. Q: You’ve also been linked to a Marvel comic book character, Doctor Strange. A: I don’t think Marvel are ready for it. But if I was gonna do a
superhero, that’s the guy I would wanna do. And I’ve been lobbying very heavily. Q: Is part of Doctor Strange’s appeal his dignified hair? A: [ Laughs] Because I have so much grey hair coming in now? Yeah, I base all my characters on hair. Q: Is restless a good word to describe how you’re feeling right now? A: Yes, without question. Q: How do you deal with that restlessness, given you’ll be playing the same character, day-in, day-out, when Grey’s picks up again next month?
A: I’m really trying to push them to move these characters forward. I’m going to be much more vocal this season than I have been. Whether they listen . . . [ laughs]. I’m not a producer, so it’s not my call, but I’m gonna let them know what my feelings are.