He's taken George Clooney's place as TV's sexiest doctor, but Patrick Dempsey doesn't think he's much of a sex symbol. The devoted family man tells Eileen Condon about the leap from Grey's Anatomy to Disney
He's playing a modern-day Prince Charming in new Disney flick Enchanted and it looks as if real life is turning out to be something of a fairytale too for actor Patrick Dempsey.
The star, best known as Dr McDreamy in the hit TV series Grey's Anatomy, admits he constantly has to pinch himself.
"Every day is a fairytale," he says with a broad smile. "It's great. I have a wonderful family with my daughter and twin sons. I'm very grateful for my career. I have no problems enjoying my life, my career and the success I have been having recently."
It's success second time around for the 41-year-old actor, who first found fame 20 years ago as a geeky leading man in the romantic comedy Can't Buy Me Love. Despite the film's success at the box office, the big parts failed to roll in for Patrick, and the talented actor spent more than a decade in the wilderness.
Not surprisingly, this time around he says he's taking nothing for granted.
"You never know how long it's going to last and who really is your friend in Hollywood and who isn't, and what their agendas are," he reasons. " But I don't get involved in that. I just want to continue making interesting, challenging movies that are non-violent. I particularly love comedy. I think there's a real need for comedy in this world at the moment."
It's not just his acting skills on Grey's that have won him an army of fans. Patrick's dark good looks have propelled him to heartthrob status. But the down-to-earth star insists he won't be getting too carried away with all the attention.
"I always find it funny when people say I'm handsome or I'm perceived in that way," he says with an embarrassed smile. "It makes me wonder who they're talking to. George Clooney is good looking; he is the classical handsome movie star. I am just average looking. But it's fun and it is certainly nice to have the attention.
"I was known for being geeky and awkward as a kid. This projection of being sexy or handsome is funny to me - I certainly don't see myself that way."
Patrick also believes finding fame later in life is helping him cope with suddenly being thrust into the spotlight.
" I don't think I could've done so well with this kind of fame earlier in my life," he says. "And I think because I have a family and a life outside of all this, it makes it much easier to stay grounded. I think I worked very hard to get to this point. I am very humble and grateful to be in this position."
The actor, who has been married to wife Jill Fink for eight years, is a devoted husband and father to Tallulah, six, and one-year old twins, Darby and Sullivan. So, it seems fitting that he should get back to the big screen in Disney's new family movie Enchanted.
He stars opposite Amy Adams as a divorce lawyer and single parent who doesn't believe in Happy Ever After, until he stumbles across Giselle, a real princess who has been hurled into modern day Manhattan from her fairytale kingdom.
"It's a really great movie and rare to make one that everybody will enjoy," says Patrick. "It's three movies in one - a romantic comedy, with animation and a fantasy, there's nothing like it."
However, he admits his main motivation for making Enchanted was that his little girl would enjoy it.
"I play a father in the film with a family of my own. I really wanted to make a family film, so this meant a lot to me," he says with a smile. "It was something I knew I would enjoy taking my wife to see, and it is also something that my daughter can see. She was there on set during filming and she loved it.
" She got to hang out with the 'princess' all day. She loved the animation and the dancing and the musical numbers."
Despite the finished result, he reveals that it was a challenging film to make. "I wasn't really that comfortable while I was making it, to be honest," he says. " There are all these different styles going on at once and it was extremely challenging. There were times when I wanted to put the scrubs back on and go back to Grey's Anatomy," he adds with a laugh.
"I kept worrying that I was too serious or not funny enough. I felt profoundly insecure throughout the entire course of the film. But then watching the finished film and seeing it in context, I see how it works."
With amazing reviews already, the movie looks set to be a big success - but happily for his many Grey's Anatomy fans, Patrick has no intention of hanging up his scrubs just yet.
"I'm enjoying the series too much," he smiles. "I'm so grateful for that show because it changed my life. I'm just happy to have a job which is good and which hopefully doesn't define me. It has been unbelievable for my career."
Enchanted is released across Northern Ireland today.