Although Dempsey has previously called his 11-year stint on the show “life-changing”, it came at a cost to his personal life with the star almost falling victim to the Hollywood hex in 2015 when he announced he was splitting from his wife Jillian.
It was then that he decided to take a step back from the spotlight and leave the popular drama series to work on his marriage. “Our marriage was not something I was prepared to let go of,” Dempsey would later tell People. “I didn’t feel like we had done all the work. We both wanted to do that work.”
Despite the devastation about his departure from the show among McDreamy fans, it also resulted in many admiring his dedication to his family – a dedication that still holds firm today.
“I just try to be a better person every day and be present,” Dempsey recently told People about family life with Jillian and their kids Talula, 21, and 16-year-old twins Sullivan and Darby. “And to listen to what the needs are of the family and provide from that perspective.”
While life seems picture perfect for Dempsey these days, the actor has certainly weathered some storms. Besides his brief separation from Jillian, the actor also went through a nasty two-year divorce battle with his first wife Rocky Parker.
While going through the split after seven years together, Parker – who was 27 years older than the star – accused Dempsey of physically abusing her. She later admitted the accusations were false.
“It was ridiculous,” Dempsey has previously said of the marriage. “A Freudian nightmare that’s publicly known. Let’s say I was a little bit lost. I needed discipline, but I sort of outgrew that … There were a lot of negative things that I’m still undoing from it.”
Cut to now and Dempsey is happier than ever after making a vow to prioritise his personal life. The actor is certainly more selective of his projects these days and fans likely won’t be seeing the actor in any more long-running drama series in the future.
However, Dempsey clearly still has a passion for the craft. Early next year, he’ll be back on the big screen in the Michael Mann-directed biopic, Ferrari.
“I’d been following the movie for years, so I called Michael and said, ‘I want to discuss being a part of this,’” Dempsey recalled. “That taught me if you really want something, you have to do it yourself.”
With his professional and personal lives both in good stead, plus a brand new Sexiest Man Alive title to boot, it seems Dempsey might’ve peaked. “I peaked many years ago,” he jokingly added to People. “But I’m still here.”