Why not learn a new skill at any age?
Actor Patrick Dempsey poses the question while talking about his new film, “Disenchanted,” premiering Friday on Disney+.
The sequel to the 2007 musical fantasy “Enchanted” represents quite a departure from his familiar role as Dr. Derek Shepherd, aka McDreamy, on the long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Dempsey’s a song and dance man now.
“It’s exciting to do something you’ve never done before in your life,” the 56-year-old says. “I learned that it’s an extraordinary feeling when you sing. The vibration, the joy. There’s something so intoxicating about it. It’s nice just to get a taste of something new,” he says.
“The whole process of finding my voice and working with a coach on that and learning the lyrics and also dancing was an extraordinary experience,” Dempsey adds. “You don’t know if you can do it unless you try.”
He’s mixing old with new in “Disenchanted,” reprising his role as Robert, who is now married to the exceedingly positive Giselle (Amy Adams). Along with a new baby and his now-teenage daughter, they move to a new community, which throws the fantasy world of Andalasia and the real world off balance.
Returning to the past but looking forward is one way Dempsey lives the good life. Here are some more of his tips:
— Get out there: To start filming “Disenchanted,” Dempsey spent 14 days on the outskirts of Dublin, which was on COVID lockdown. That meant no pubs, no restaurants and a very simple way of living life. He says he never felt more inspired. “It was spring, so you had a lot of lambs and a lot of newborns roaming the countryside where I was staying,” he says. “I’d hike and hike. Clear my mind. Breathe the fresh air.” There was an added benefit. “I met so many lovely people traveling on foot and just stopping to talk,” he says.
— Reward yourself: After getting in all those steps, Dempsey liked to splurge. “There was also the butter and, of course, the bread in Ireland,” he sighs. “The bread, the bread!”
— It’s all about balance: Dempsey says “Disenchanted” shows his character juggling family life. “He’s trying to find balance between his new baby and his teenage daughter. And then there is the conflict between his wife and now stepmother Giselle and his older child,” he says. “It’s not always easy, which was the point. Life can be beautiful and complex. You’re winning at one thing, working on the next thing.”
— Rely on friends: His co-star Amy Adams insists that Dempsey fit perfectly in the scenes in which he’s transported into the fairy tale world. “I’ve never seen a man happier in a tunic,” she jokes. “Other than my husband! And that’s a whole different story. … Patrick was so happy on the days we shot inside the fairy tale world. He really embraced the part of the film where he’s a swashbuckling adventurer.” Dempsey adds, “It was a little scary at first, but it was a safe environment because my friend Amy was there to help.”
— Say yes: “I’ve had some really lean years, and I’ll never forget them,” Dempsey says. “I’m not the guy who says no to great work.”
— Stretch: Dempsey has spent much of his career mixing it up. One day it’s “Disenchanted”; the next it’s a role in “Transformers” or the upcoming “Ferrari” movie. “I liked dangling my body off skyscrapers,” he says of the “Transformers” film. “I was running through the streets and falling on rubble while explosions were going off around me. … My adrenaline was pounding. I was super close to an entire river that was on fire, and all I could think was it’s great to be a sensitive doc on TV, but I needed a macho moment. Every guy wants to be an action star. We want to show the world that we have a daredevil side.”
— Take fitness seriously: In his spare time, he likes to race cars, which also requires keeping his body finely tuned. “It’s physically exerting to race, so I stay in the gym and train,” Dempsey says. “I do a lot of running and cycling to keep in shape. It’s also a great way to get rid of the stress of the day.”
— He also stays in shape for his kids: “I want to be here for a long, long time,” the father of three says. “I don’t want to say, ‘I can’t because it will pull my back out.’ I want to go to the gym to keep strong, so I can do everything.”
— Know your priorities: Dempsey’s hobbies include collecting antiques, remodeling homes and skiing. “But to me there is nothing better than just staying in town and hanging out with my family,” he says.