Shonda Rhimes's "Grey's Anatomy" stars aren't exactly content.
Asked about his role on the long-running medical soap opera at the Television Critics Association Press Tour (where he is promoting a TLC series about car racing), "Grey's" lead actor Patrick Dempsey compared the role to his side passion, racing cars. Reported The Wrap:
He admitted that, while he's "not necessarily bored with" the long-running ABC drama, after nine seasons, acting is a "job" -- and "not a lot of homework" goes into his portrayal of Dr. Derek Shepherd.
"It's a different type of passion," Dempsey said of his dual pursuits of acting and racing. "I'm an actor, so that's my profession, that's my job. It's a trade."
Dempsey, nominated for the Golden Globe in 2006 and 2007 for his role on the series, went on to say that he viewed himself as a hired gun: "I'm not necessarily bored with the show. I'm very grateful that I have a show that's been on for 10 years, but I'm not the creator, I'm not the writer. [...] it's a trade, quite honestly. And that's fine. When you're on a show [that's been on for 200 episodes] it's about surviving and finding ways to turn yourself on with the material that you're given."
His comments come some three years after Katherine Heigl's 2010 departure from "Grey's Anatomy" and preceding instances of complaints: the actress refused to submit herself for consideration for an Emmy the year after winning because "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination" and said the hours she was forced to work were "cruel and mean." T. R. Knight had previously departed the show in 2009, citing a "breakdown of communication" with show creator Rhimes: "My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given." Heigl's image, bolstered by a series of film bombs, has never substantially recovered and she's recently suggested she'd like to return to the show (Rhimes has said it won't happen); Knight has largely worked on the stage since leaving the series.
Dempsey's muted criticism of his own experience forcing himself to be turned on by the material he's given recalls Heigl's Emmy withdrawal, a moment that Rhimes has said "on some level [...] stung." Season 10 of TV's best soap premieres September 26!