Fans of long-running television show, Grey’s Anatomy, know him as the steamy Dr. Derek Shepherd who was – to everyone’s dismay – killed off in an automobile accident. Avid racing fans, especially those following world endurance racing, know him for the Team that bears his name –Dempsey Racing. Either way, actor and racecar driver Patrick Dempsey – also a TAG Heuer brand ambassador – is a man with many passions – and right now, staying focused is one of them.
Recently, in a candid interview, Dempsey shared his thoughts with us on time and the importance of staying focused.
HT: Last year when I met you at Indy 500, you were in the midst of the World Endurance Championships, and had a second place finish and a win. Can you share your feelings about the season and that win?
PD: “Yes, I remember. We went on to Lemans and had a great result, finishing second. Then we went on and won the race in Japan. That was my first win in the WEC, which was incredible. After so many years [of racing], to have my dreams realized is really remarkable, and you start to appreciate the journey of what it was to get there. I realized that when you arrive – it is because you just stuck to the process.
Of course, it was a great team. We were focused with Porsche, and with TAG’s support. There was a lot of pressure and we made it happen as a great team effort. I think brands like Heuer and Porsche bring out the best in you because they have such a rich heritage and you want to live up to their standards and you want to make your mark in that world.
That journey and that win has really affected me, and made a difference on how I approach things now, because I learned so much from working with them — their level of execution and focus, and the intensity of that focus. And something shifted in me that made me realize that anything was possible. It made me say, ’ok now I am ready to come back and focus on my careers.’’
Q: How does television compare with movies such as the upcoming “Bridget Jones’s Baby” that you are starring in (which will be out this fall), and how does it all compare with racing?
PD: “When you do television, you are just trying to keep up. It is 10 months a year, 15-hour days, you are constantly learning lines and don’t know what time and place you are at. And now I want to focus on projects and savor each one, and to get into it in a much deeper way than I have in the past. And that all comes through what I learned in racing, through following the process that gets you there, focusing on the process that gets you to the win.
In racing, you really have to be present; your situational awareness has to be so keen. Last year was a complete emergence; driving takes so much time and focus and a lot was sacrificed to be able to achieve that. So this is the year to focus on what I want, on where I am now- not the memories of the past and not the future. But the now, and the priorities. I’ll be involved in racing as an owner but not as a driver.”
Q: With these different career paths, and being a father, how do you split your time and priorities?
PD: “My kids are always first. They are the most important thing in my life. My win was great for my kids — to show them that they could accomplish their dreams, that you can do anything as long as you stay true to your vision and your dream. Sure there will be good days and bad days, but if you stay focused, you can achieve it. Having the season end has given me time to breathe and time to be with them, and to support them from the sidelines. My boys are 9 and my daughter is 14, and to be able to communicate with them, talk about their dreams, and just drive them to school and dissect all the cars on the streets has been amazing for me. I think [that] by achieving what I did last year, I am much more focused on everything, especially spending time with them. Time goes by so fast- I want to be present for their growth.”
Q: You also have other projects and plans going on, can you share details?
PD: “Having free time not only allowed me to be with my family, but it also gave me time to devote to the wellness center I set up in Maine. That is really important to me. And now, acting is big, too. I am going to be involved in a lot of projects moving forward that will take me to a new level in my career. Now I am material driven. I want to be in control of the material – in acting and to produce. That is my focus right now.”
Q: Can you tell me what you like about TAG Heuer?
PD: “I like the heritage, the connection to racing. My favorite watch is a vintage Monaco from 1972 that I bought years ago. It’s my favorite by far. I also like the connected watch. The beauty of it is that it connects people to the idea of wearing watches. It is modern, cutting edge and is a gateway to wearing a mechanical watch. It is a sign of the times.”
Q: And because we are also lifestyle publication, and because the women love you, we have to ask about your favorite designers and, sorry for this, whose hair products you use?
PD: I like John Varvatos, he is a good American designer with a nice edge. And I like Paul Smith a lot. I like the smaller brands and the hand-made products. As to the hair products, I really don’t know. My wife is a makeup artist and has her own product line and she hands me stuff all the time and I use it.”
I have had the opportunity to interview Dempsey on several occasions, now, and – skeptic that I am when it comes to celebrities – I have to admit I find him to be quiet yet enthusiastic, eloquent and yet not austere. Yes, those blue eyes do drag you deep within even if you try not to let them, but in the end, Dempsey is quite likeable and – yes, I’m going to say it – seems like just an everyday guy.