Long before the world knew him as Dr. Derek Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy, actor Patrick Dempsey had a passion to perform in the circus.
Renee Zellweger and the Can’t Buy Me Love star sat down for an exclusive EW Radio town hall to discuss their upcoming film, Bridget Jones’s Baby, and the origins of Dempsey’s performance passions were revealed.
Dempsey, born and raised in Lewiston, Maine, showed signs of working in the entertainment world during his adolescence. “I did a juggling routine when I was 15 and that’s actually how I made a living,” he told EW editor Henry Goldblatt. “I did birthday parties on weekends. So I started off in old school vaudeville actually.”
While juggling was his gateway into the vaudeville scene (he confirms he can do balloon animals, too), he learned it from an unlikely source. Describing the harsh Maine winters of his childhood, Dempsey explained that it was at school where his love for the circus acts began. “My shop teacher was in this vaudeville group and, to entertain the students, he started teaching people how to juggle, and that’s how it started,” he said.
Going so far as to attend clown camp, Dempsey originally had his eyes on the Big Top rather than landing on a big TV show.“I signed up to try and get into Ringling Brothers,” he revealed.
Ultimately, he was denied entry into the program, but Dempsey cites the application process as the most challenging. “The questionnaire is the most absurd thing you’ve ever seen like, ‘How do you get along with people in small cars?’ Things like that,” he said.
Getting a last quip in before moving on, Zellweger joked, “Well that would be important to know.”
The SiriusXM town hall with Dempsey and Zellweger will premiere Friday at 2 p.m. ET and play throughout the weekend on EW Radio (ch. 105), and anytime on the SiriusXM app.
Listen to the radio excerpt below.