Nearly twenty years have passed since Patrick Dempsey made his small-screen debut on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy as doctor Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd. His breakthrough performance as a charming outsider in 1987’s Can’t Buy Me Love was arguably more significant
In this week’s cover story, the 57-year-old Maine native tells PEOPLE, “I’m glad it’s happening at this point in my life.” “Having the recognition is nice, and it definitely makes my ego feel a little bigger, but it also gives me a platform to use it for good.” The Dempsey Centre, which he established to assist cancer patients and their loved ones in memory of his late mother, holds a special place in his heart.
As for how his kids will respond, Dempsey insists they’re “just going to make fun of me and pick on me and figure out every reason why I shouldn’t be,” he says. “Which is good, they keep me young.
He will showcase his racing prowess in December when he plays Italian driver Piero Taruffi in the Michael Mann-directed biopic Ferrari (which was granted an interim agreement by SAG-AFTRA in the midst of the actors’ strike). He learned to take risks—but not the right kind of risks—from the movie. “I wanted to talk about being a part of this,” Dempsey says, calling Michael after years of seeing the film. I learned from that that you have to put in the work yourself if you truly want something.
On Christmas Day, Ferrari will be showing in theatres. Go to dempseycenter.org to learn more about the Dempsey Centre
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