From be­ing one of the most adored doc­tors in the world, to win­ning the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, TAG Heuer am­bas­sador Pa­trick Dempsey is sys­tem­at­i­cally tick­ing ev­ery box

Revolution (Hong Kong) - - CONTENTS - IN­TER­VIEW BY HE­LEN CRU­DEN

Why have you de­cided to stop rac­ing af­ter such a great year on the track?

Last year, I was com­pletely fo­cused on rac­ing be­cause I needed to fol­low my dream. I knew that it was my year at Le Mans and that was my fo­cus. I took a year out to race at a high level, with the sup­port of great driv­ers and a great team at Porsche. It was a tremen­dous sac­ri­fice to my act­ing ca­reer and to my fam­ily, but I needed to do it for my­self.

Once I had ac­com­plished my goal, I re­al­ized that I needed to re-eval­u­ate. I needed to step back yet still re­main as a part of the sport. I got my fix and I could tell my kids: “You know what? You can do any­thing.” There was a beau­ti­ful video made by Porsche about the jour­ney to our tri­umph and the ob­sta­cles that we over­came to get there. I can show this to my chil­dren and ex­plain that there is noth­ing you can’t do in life.

What is in the fu­ture for Dempsey Rac­ing?

Be­cause I was trav­el­ing so much last sea­son and spend­ing so much time alone, I was able to re­flect on my con­nec­tion with the sport. I re­al­ized I didn’t have the same mo­ti­va­tion to go into this sea­son as I did last year but I still wanted to stay con­nected to Porsche, so the best idea was to be­come a team owner. I have a Pro-team with two in­cred­i­ble driv­ers who won the cham­pi­onship last year. I fol­lowed the team at Sil­ver­stone, and I will also be at Le Mans and some other races. I will then look at the best way for­ward, pos­si­bly get­ting back in the car maybe in a year’s time, while also sup­port­ing my fam­ily.

When you were rac­ing, did you ever hit men­tal bar­ri­ers that pre­vented you from per­form­ing at your best? The sport is phys­i­cally drain­ing. A cou­ple of times in races, I wasn’t able to break through that — but it does cal­i­brate you for the next race. The biggest bat­tle is learning how to be men­tally strong for when you hit that wall. You have to be able to walk out of the phys­i­cal and emo­tional pain, and that’s where prepa­ra­tion comes in. De­pend­ing on where you are at in the sea­son, how well along you are, those things are ma­jor fac­tors. Has tak­ing the year o given you the per­spec­tive you needed to get back into act­ing? It has given me the pas­sion to go back — but act­ing is also a grind, so it’s nice to take the time off. Aside from Pa­trick Dempsey; steve mcQueen; Jack Heuer, six-time Le mans win­ner Jacky ickx and time­keeper Jean campiche at the monaco GP in 1973; F1 cham­pion Niki Lauda’s Fer­rari in 1975 was im­printed with the Heuer logo the rac­ing, I have been work­ing on a can­cer foun­da­tion in my home­town. It needed my fo­cus and that is some­thing that I find re­ally sat­is­fy­ing. There is a lot that can hap­pen there that could make a big dif­fer­ence and, to me, that is very sat­is­fy­ing work. One of your taglines is, “Live au­then­ti­cally. Act like­wise.” Does re­turn­ing to act­ing pro­vide you with the next chal­lenge in your life? With Grey’s Anatomy, there was no chal­lenge left af­ter 11 years. Yes, fi­nan­cially it was won­der­ful, but cre­atively and emo­tion­ally, it be­came stag­nant, and that’s no way to live. The chal­lenge for me now is to pro­duce and to con­trol my des­tiny and the ma­te­rial that I am a part of. This year, I have sold five projects to dif­fer­ent stu­dios to de­velop as ca­ble se­ries, and I am prob­a­bly go­ing to di­rect a small movie in Ber­lin. I am also in talks about a film to shoot here in Europe, which is go­ing to be com­pletely dif­fer­ent from my other projects — it will be more of an ac­tion film.

With re­gards to my role in Brid­get Jones’s Baby, it was a big risk bring­ing an Amer­i­can char­ac­ter into the movie. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how peo­ple re­act to the char­ac­ter — will they em­brace him or not? Es­pe­cially in the shadow of Hugh Grant.

How does it feel to have fol­lowed in the foot­steps of cin­ema legends such as Paul New­man and Steve McQueen in ful­fill­ing the rac­ing dream?

I sup­pose it gives me a lit­tle sense of pride that I achieved that. Paul New­man was sec­ond at Se­bring and Le Mans, while McQueen won the lat­ter. I had tremen­dous sup­port from my co-driv­ers and a phe­nom­e­nal engi­neer­ing team, but to win a race out­right was an­other thing all to­gether. Some­thing changes within you — you learn some­thing new and you can gen­uinely ask your­self, what does it take to win?

TAG Heuer has sup­ported your love of rac­ing since the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. How has your re­la­tion­ship with the brand evolved?

We are much closer now. The team has a bet­ter sense of the his­tory of the brand, es­pe­cially af­ter be­ing given the chance to go to the fac­tory and meet Jack Heuer [hon­orary chair­man of TAG Heuer and the great­grand­son of the brand’s founder, Edouard Heuer]. You start to see the evo­lu­tion and why Heuer be­came so im­por­tant. Be­fore, they had these huge cum­ber­some stop­watches; then the Car­rera came along, fol­lowed by the Monaco. The Monaco be­came iconic be­cause of the movie Le Mans, and Jack Heuer’s re­la­tion­ship with rac­ing and de­sire to cap­ture time ac­cu­rately — it fits in per­fectly with the sport. The Monaco is a beau­ti­ful thing: it is a work of art, a piece of sculp­ture that you can in­ter­act with, and as soon as you see it, you rec­og­nize what it is. I’m so proud to be as­so­ci­ated with the brand and to have them as a spon­sor.

Have you added any watches to your col­lec­tion since?

Yes, a vin­tage Heuer watch. I have been very for­tu­nate to be given watches, but I wanted to ac­tu­ally buy some­thing spe­cial. So, Pa­trick Long, my co-driver, found me a watch store. We were in Bel­gium and had time to kill, so we went in and the owner had a col­lec­tion of Heuer watches. I found a 1970 black­di­aled Heuer — it was my re­tire­ment present to my­self from the show. It has a lot of mean­ing for it cap­tured that piece of time. When I have that watch on, it is very del­i­cate, and I have a lot of pride in that. I have also in­vested in the com­pany, in its her­itage. It was very im­por­tant for me to have that con­nec­tion and to un­der­stand where it came from.

When we were speak­ing to Jack Heuer, who de­vel­oped the idea of the Monaco, he explained the evo­lu­tion of the watch, the build­ing of the com­pany, its his­tory and why the pusher is on the right-hand side, so that you can reach it eas­ily whilst you’re driv­ing. When I had it on in Le Mans, I would be look­ing at it and say­ing to my­self: “Okay, I’ve got an­other 20 min­utes in this stint.” In that way, it was re­ally use­ful dur­ing the race.

The Monaco Cal­i­bre 6 Au­to­matic All-Black

cLOck­Wise FrOm tOP LeFt

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP RIGHT Jean Campiche at the Monaco GP in 1979; the Monaco Cal­i­bre 11 Au­to­matic Chrono­graph, a faith­ful blue-di­aled re-edi­tion of the orig­i­nal 'Steve McQueen watch'; Jack Heuer, whose pas­sion for mo­tor-rac­ing spurred TAG Heuer’s...

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