Two decades ago, Patrick Dempsey became an overnight movie star thanks to teen classics such as Can’t Buy Me Love and Loverboy. Now the 42-year-old actor is enjoying a wildly successful comeback in Hollywood thanks to his Golden Globe-nominated role as Dr. Derek Shepherd' better known as McDreamy' in the hit TV drama series Grey’s Anatomy. After starring as Amy Adams’ Prince Charming in the film Enchanted last year, he’s now graduated to playing the lead in his very own romantic comedy, Made of Honour. Made of Honour stars Dempsey as Tom, a charming womanizer who can always rely on his best friend Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) as the one constant in his life. When she goes to Scotland for six weeks he is stunned to realize how empty his life is without her but when she returns with a fiancé and asks him to be her ‘maid’ of honor, he reluctantly agrees not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because he hopes it will give him a last chance to woo her before it’s too late. In his own life, Patrick Dempsey has been married for eight years to Jill and they have three children; Tallulah, 6, and one-year-old twin boys, Darby and Sullivan. During a recent interview at the Four Seasons hotel, Dempsey is charming and down-to-earth as he talks about his new movie and career of ups and downs. After 20 years of them, he’s just happy to be here at all.

What do you think of your new film?

It’s a fun, sweet old-fashioned romantic comedy. There is some slapstick and if people like some of the early comedies I did, they’ll certainly like this one. Michelle is also really sweet and the chemistry with our characters is great.

Did you like the fact that you play a male bridesmaid so the genre is turned on its ear?

Neal Moritz, who I worked with on the film Sweet Home Alabama, came to me with this script and I was tired and wanted to take a break but he was very persistent and once we made my character a bit more likeable and made the tone of the film sweeter,

I felt it could work. The movie starts when they are in college and they meet by accident and she calls him on all his stuff and he appreciates her honesty. So cut to ten years later when she is still his best friend but goes to Scotland and while she’s gone, he realizes the intimacy he has with her is really what he is looking for but when she comes back she’s engaged and asks him to be the maid of honor.

So he has to work from the inside to ruin the engagement to win her back and it has some very funny, sweet moments.

How did it feel doing more of the comedy in this film and not being the straight guy?

In Enchanted I was more the supporting straight guy to everyone else and this is more out front and fun with the physical comedy. It was interesting because it was familiar from my early movies but it also made me uneasy because I was wondering if I was taking a step back doing this again. I didn’t want to fall back into what was easy but at the same time it was a perfect opportunity to do something different but still play a romantic character.

How was shooting?

My favorite scenes were the wedding and the slapstick stuff we did. Then we got to shoot in Scotland, where the second half of the movie takes place, and that’s another reason I wanted to do the movie.

We shot two weeks in Isle of Skye in Scotland and then went to London and shot in the countryside outside England, so I got to take my family with me, and wanted to buy a castle and move there!

How does this character compare with your others?

It was fun to play a character that was different than McDreamy or the guy I play in Enchanted, but yet in the same tone so you are taking the same people with you. It was an opportunity to carry the movie and be the lead and I wanted to make something that would be hopefully commercial and successful so it allows me to take some chances and try different things on my next film.

What did you think of his fear of commitment?

I obviously don’t have that problem but it was fun to play a character that had an issue so different from me and it was interesting to figure out what would prevent them from connecting and becoming physical if they were this close.

We figured out that it started early on in college, because she doesn’t trust him and she’s very prudish, and although each one threw out hints through the years, it was always a case of the other person not picking up on it at the right time.

Do you feel a responsibility to your TV fans not to play something too different from that role?

I have to slowly take people on that ride. So I have this romantic character from Enchanted and then from this movie and in Grey’s Anatomy, and slowly you move in a different direction and give it more dimension. I’ve been offered a few things coming up and one is a complete departure, so I want to take those chances in the future.

Do you worry about getting stuck in romantic roles?

I think the next choice I make is very important and it depends on how well this movie does. There are a lot of movies being released so the question is do I have the following that is going to catapult me into the next movie?

Did you wear a bridesmaid dress in the film?

What do you remember from your first round of stardom with Loverboy?

I remember Kirstie Alley was a lot of fun, very flirty, really funny and that was a long time ago. There were a lot of things going on in my personal life back then I wasn’t really enjoying but I’m glad that was then and here I am now having made it out of that period. It’s amazing I’ve survived 20 years in this town and I’ve experienced a little bit of everything.

What about the period when you had recurring roles in Will & Grace and Once & Again?

I think that was the start of the turning point in my career. With Will & Grace and Once & Again, people started to rediscover me again, which was great. Sweet Home Alabama was a big break but the movie starred Reese Witherspoon, not me, so it feels good to know I’ve made the step of being the star whose name got the film made and is listed above the title. It’s also a lot of pressure too.

How glamorous is your life these days now you’re a big TV and movie star?

You’d laugh if you could see my average day. It starts usually with not much sleep because my daughter somehow crawls into bed and disrupts our sleep in the middle of the night.

We’re up at the crack of dawn because she’s started school and one of us is taking her to school and the boys are waking up so they are getting fed and play and take their naps and then I’m trying to get my workout in and off to work on scripts or phone calls about my race team and then my daughter is home from school, we have dinner and early to bed!

But there are glamorous moments that are enjoyable, so when you’re done with all the diaper changing and grocery shopping, you get to travel and have a good time, or go to work and kiss Ellen Pompeo! Because of the writer’s strike, I haven’t kissed her in a few months but I’ve been kissing my wife a lot!

Do you have any scoop on what’s next for your character on Grey’s Anatomy?

I’d like to see Derek have a nice relationship with the nurse he just met on the last few episodes, but only as friends, not lovers. Then someone comes in from his past where he can find out more about who he is.

I was frustrated last year because I felt we weren’t going anywhere with the Derek and Meredith relationship so it would be nice if she got over her fear of commitment and they got married quickly and then are left dealing with new issues, or her being pregnant. Hopefully we’ve got lots of time to explore all that!

What have you been doing between projects?

It’s been nice to spend time with my family and take a deep breath and see what I want to do next and just rest. I race cars and spend a lot of time working on sponsors for my team and I’ve been cycling a lot, which I love. I also recently went back to Maine to see my mother.

I’ve set up a foundation there at the hospital that treated my mother’s cancer; the Cancer Hope and Healing Center because I felt it was important to give something back to that community.

Did you ever imagine you’d end up here when you wanted to be an Olympic skier as a teenager?

It’s interesting but you can see the moments in your life that are just destined to be and the challenges you meet along the way. Anything is possible but it won’t be easy, it’s going to be painful at times and there is a lot of conflict you are going to have to overcome and a lot of soul searching you are going to have to do to weather those moments.

What was a big turning point for you?

I think my marriage to Jill, returning to Maine, buying a house there and realizing I could be very happy living my life there and that relaxed me enough to not be so desperate when I was living in Los Angeles.

Losing the desperation allowed people to view me differently and I also just needed to mature and get a little older. I had a little fame back then which was intense, because all those movies were done in the space of eighteen months, and then nothing.

So I then had all those years of struggling and learning how to have a balanced life and live outside my career.

At the end of the day, career success feels profoundly empty because it’s not something tangible when you’re home alone. It makes me appreciate this time in my life all the more!

Made of Honour is in UK Cinemas from Friday 2nd May.

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