TV fans all over the world know and love Patrick Dempsey (now aged 56) as the charming and empathetic "Dr. Derek Shepherd" (or "McDreamy") from Grey's Anatomy.

But Dempsey started his career way before he got the role on the long-running ABC medical drama (which lost another star last season with Justin Chambers' departure) that is currently in its 17th season.

Patrick Dempsey: His early career

Patrick Dempsey grew up in Maine and he made his first foray into acting by going around the country after high school with a stage production of Torch Song Trilogy.

He kept acting in different stage productions until he got his first major movie role at 21 when starring alongside Beverly D'Angelo in In The Mood. Before, he'd already had a smaller role in the 1985 movie Heaven Help Us.

The cast of 'Grey's Anatomy'


Who has NOT been with the show from season 1 to today?

What followed were roles in hit movies such as Can't Buy Me Love and Some Girls. The 1990s saw Dempsey in a number of features, as well as a wide array of television roles - the most famous, were probably his appearances in the miniseries JFK: Reckless Youth and the movie Mobsters.

In 2003, he starred alongside Reese Witherspoon as her fiancé in Sweet Home Alabama and two years later he was cast in the role that would define his career for the next 10 years.

Grey's Anatomy: Patrick Dempsey will forever be "Dr. Derek Shepherd"

From 2005 until 2015, Dempsey starred as the handsome neurosurgeon "Dr. Derek Shepherd", who everybody just called "McDreamy" on the ABC hit show Grey's Anatomy.

His on-screen chemistry with his co-star Ellen Pompeo ("Dr. Meredith Grey") as well as his charm and good looks made him one of THE fan favorites of the show until his tragic exit in 2015.

Patrick Dempsey, pictured in 2019.

Patrick Dempsey: Actor and racecar driver

Aside from acting, Dempsey has an extensive collection of vintage sports cars and has made auto racing as much a part of his life as acting. He has competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and many other prestigious races while owning his own team: Dempsey Racing.

Dempsey has been married to his wife Jillian Fink since 1999 and the couple has three children. His most recent acting role was in the TV series The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair and he produced the movie The Art of Racing in the Rainwhich stars Milo Ventimiglia.

Dempsey actually reprised his role of "Derek Shepherd" last year in an episode of Grey's Anatomy where "Meredith" had flashbacks... Fans everywhere were thrilled!