Patrick Dempsey has been racing cars for years, and he documents his efforts to mount a team to drive in the 24 Hours of LeMans race in an upcoming docu-series on Velocity called “Patrick Dempsey: Racing LeMans.”
The way he talks about it, you’d think he’s more interested in this avocation than his day job on “Grey’s Anatomy.” You’d be right.
“I just love it. I’ve loved it ever since I was a kid,” Dempsey said Thursday (July 25) at the TCA summer press tour. “You’re really testing yourself. You’re going into your own fears and anxieties and you have to test yourself physically and mentally — that’s what I like about it.”
A couple of moments in the preview for “Racing LeMans” show Dempsey frustrated with working on “Grey’s,” and he doesn’t sidestep questions about it: “These interviews took place over a year, so my moods change dramatically in the course of 12 months depending on where we are in the run of the show,” he says. “It’s a different type of passion — I’m an actor, so it’s my job. It’s a trade. It’s a different feeling.”
The fact that Dempsey is honest about his relative levels of passion for racing and acting frankly comes as a bit of a surprise. The pat answer would be something like “I love them both,” but Dempsey is more upfront about it on Thursday.
Which is not to say he’s just marking time on “Grey’s Anatomy.” He says several times that he’s grateful for the time the show’s producers allow him to race — “After they see this, I hope they continue to let me race,” he jokes.
But, he reiterates, a job is a job, and a passion is a passion.
“When you’re on a show that’s coming up on 200 episodes, it’s about surviving. And you find ways to turn yourself on with the material you’re given,” Dempsey says. It’s like being in a band — you have a specific note that you play. That’s what you do, and you just try to play it as well as you can. But for me now, it’s much more discovering in the moment. There’s not a lot of homework that goes into it — you learn your lines and try to be present. You try not to get caught acting.
“I’m grateful I have the gig, but it’s not the same as being in a race car.”
“Patrick Dempsey: Racing LeMans” premieres on Aug. 28 on Velocity.