He nearly ended up on another medical drama
Prior to being cast in Grey's Anatomy, Dempsey auditioned for the role of Dr. Robert Chase on House. The Lewiston native was pleased with his reading, but producers decided to go in another direction and chose lesser-known Aussie actor Jesse Spencer instead.
He auditioned for Pretty in Pink
House wasn't the only production that passed on Dempsey. During the mid 1980's he also unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Duckie in Pretty in Pink. The part went instead to Jon Cryer, a relative newcomer who became an overnight sensation thanks to the film's success.
He wasn't the first choice to play McDreamy
Dempsey may seem like the perfect choice to play Dr. Derek Shepherd, but the two-time Golden Globe nominee was only invited to audition for the role after Rob Lowe turned it down. Dempsey stills recalls testing for the part with his future co-star Ellen Pompeo. 'She was very attentive during my audition, and I felt welcomed,' he said in an interview with TV Fanatic. 'Also, she had a Boston accent, and I'm from Maine. I found that endearing.' Their unmistakable chemistry was apparent to everyone in the room and the pair were promptly hired for the series.
Dempsey may seem carefree on screen, but in reality the actor has struggled with dyslexia for his entire life. He first acknowledged the issue publicly in 2006 during a revealing interview with Barbara Walters, and has since spoken about it freely in a number of publications. 'I didn't really start my education until I dropped out of high school,' he said in an interview with TV Fanatic. 'Because of acting, I had to learn to work through my reading issues. I had private coaching. If I couldn't read a line, I had someone tell it to me. Once I had it, I could run with it.' Dempsey still employs the same technique, although the producers of Grey's Anatomy certainly don't make it easy for him. 'What I don't like about Grey's Anatomy is they never give you the script until the last minute,' he said. 'I fight those anxieties every time I sit down for a table read-through. So I'm not completely over it.'
He's an expert juggler
Everyone knows that Dempsey has great hands, but you may not know that his dexterity was honed through years of competitive juggling. The actor joined a vaudeville troupe when he was 11-years-old and went on to place second in an international juggling competition in 1982. Dempsey's mentor, Randy Judkins, still recalls being impressed with his young pupil's presence at the event. 'The one thing that I noticed from watching him was that he was totally at ease on stage,' Judkins told DownEast.com many years later. 'He was completely in his element, and he had this love of the audience>s reaction. It was very, very obvious that he had found another home on the stage.'
He's an outstanding skier
Growing up in small town Maine, Dempsey had one overriding goal. 'My real goal was to be an Olympic skier,' he recently told DownEast.com.'That>s all I really wanted to do.' The actor spent much of his free time at nearby Titcomb Mountain and became so proficient on the slopes that he won the Maine State Slalom Championship in high school. However, Dempsey's dream of being an olympian eventually gave way to being an actor and he left Maine following his 17th birthday to pursue a career in showbiz.
His first wife was 27 years his senior
Dempsey reversed the Hollywood trend of older men marrying younger women in 1987 when the 21-year-old said 'I do' to 48-year-old actress and drama coach Rocky Parker. The pair remained together until 1994, although in retrospect, Dempsey admits that their union was a mistake. "I think I needed a mother," Dempsey told Barbara Walters in 2006. 'There were a lot of negative things that I am still undoing from it, and will always have to remember." Dempsey has been married to make-up artist Jillian Dempsey since 1999. The couple presently lives in Malibu with their three young children.
He's a real life hero
Dempsey has come to the rescue of plenty of patients on Grey's Anatomy, but the actor got to show off his real life-saving skills in April, 2012 when he pulled a barely-conscious 17-year-old boy to safety after his car rolled over near Dempsey's home. Using a crowbar and a fire extinguisher, Dempsey was able to pry the teen out of his car and even called the boy's mother afterwards to appraise her of the situation. "He had a certain authority in his voice," the mother told People magazine. "I asked if he was a paramedic and he said, 'No, this is Patrick Dempsey.' I thought, 'McDreamy?'"