Patrick Dempsey left ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ amid ‘HR issues’: ‘He knew he could stop production and scare people’

Grey’s Anatomy fans still aren’t over the heartbreaking episode in which Patrick Dempsey ‘s dreamy character, Dr. Derek Shepherd, dies, but it was a relief to some of the people involved in the show.

James D. Parriott, who worked as a producer on the ABC hit for several years, from 2005 to 2006 and was brought back again in 2015, just before Shepherd’s demise on the April 23, 2015 episode, tells author Lynette Rice for her upcoming book, How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy , that his second stint there was all about keeping Dempsey happy — something he hadn’t been in a while.

"[Creator] Shonda [Rhimes] needed an OG to come in as sort of a showrunner for fourteen episodes," Parriott says in an excerpt of the book published Thursday in The Hollywood Reporter . "There were HR issues. It wasn’t sexual in any way. He sort of was terrorizing the set. Some cast members had all sorts of PTSD with him. He had this hold on the set where he knew he could stop production and scare people. The network and studio came down and we had sessions with them. I think he was just done with the show. He didn’t like the inconvenience of coming in every day and working. He and Shonda were at each other’s throats."

At that time, Dempsey’s relationship with his on-screen love interest, Ellen Pompeo, was also strained. Former producer Jeannine Renshaw said Pompeo often resented her leading man’s objections to the many hours of work. She was spending even more time on the job. Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo star in a 2010 episode of "Grey’s Anatomy." (Photo: Adam Taylor/ABC/courtesy Everett Collection) "There were times where Ellen was frustrated with Patrick and she would get angry that he wasn’t working as much. She was very big on having things be fair," Renshaw said. "She just didn’t like that Patrick would complain that ‘I’m here too late’ or ‘I’ve been here too long’ when she had twice as many scenes in the episode as he did. When I brought it up to Patrick, I would say, ‘Look around you. These people have been here since six-thirty a.m.’ He would go, ‘Oh, yeah.’ He would get it. It’s just that actors tend to see things from their own perspective. He’s like a kid. He’s so high energy and would go, ‘What’s happening next?’ He literally goes out of his skin, sitting and waiting. He wants to be out driving his race car or doing something fun. He’s the kid in class who wants to go to recess."

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