He’s known for his seduction scenes, but behind the scenes, Patrick Dempsey prefers playing daddy.  That’s the main reason this Grey’s Anatomy star auditioned for Enchanted, Disney’s delightful fairytale about an animated princess who comes to life in New York City.

“I wanted something that was non-violent—that was positive yet unusual,” Dempsey said.  “It’s hard to find original stories, and certainly stories that are positive, in a world that’s not so positive.  It’s something that I could take my daughter to go see, a family movie.  I see a lot of family movies these days—more than anything else.”

That wasn’t always the case.  The 41-year-old burst onto the Hollywood stage in 1987 in the hit teen comedy Can’t Buy Me Love for which he won a Young Artist’s Award for his dorky high-schooler role.  The same year, Dempsey married Rocky Parker, mother of his best friend, actor Corey Parker.  She was 48.  He was 21. 

The marriage lasted seven years and, after just one successful film (Loverboy), ushered in a decade-long career drought for Dempsey, during which he played mostly small television parts.  After notable appearances on Will & Grace and Once and Again beginning in 2000, however, Dempsey landed the role of Reese Witherspoon’s fiancé in the 2002 hit, Sweet Home Alabama.  His star was on the rise. 

In 2005, he agreed to film the pilot for a new ABC-TV drama series.  One year later, Grey’s Anatomy was dominating the ratings—and Dempsey was dominating the headlines.  He’s since been nominated for an Emmy, two Golden Globes and was the 2006 SAG nominee for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series for his work as Dr. Derek Shepherd, aka “Dr. McDreamy.”

Dempsey has been married to makeup artist Jillian Fink since 1999.  The couple has one five-year-old daughter.  Earlier this year, Fink also gave birth to twin boys.  They’re his real raison d’être, said the actor, who spends his days playing “McDreamy” and his nights changing diapers.

In Enchanted, which opens November 21, Dempsey is Robert Philip, a cynical divorce lawyer who falls for Giselle, a real-life princess played by Amy Adams (Junebug).  He’s hampered in his quest for true love by Prince Edward (James Marsden), an evil stepmother (Susan Sarandon) and a conniving servant (Timothy Spall). 

Dempsey recently met with reporters in Los Angeles, where he talked about Enchanted, his first marriage and why he makes sure to always watch movies with his pre-schooler—even Disney movies.  Here’s what he had to say:

You know you’ve finally arrived in Hollywood when you get your own E! True Hollywood Story.  So what’s it like to go from McDork to McDreamy?
Well, I haven’t seen the piece yet.  So it’s like reliving your whole life, and I don’t necessarily want to go back to some of those periods in my life.  It’s like your yearbook picture.  Do you want to go back and see that?  Not necessarily.  But I’m amazed, though. I really am.

At this second chance for a career?
Unbelievable.  You read about it and you see other people going through it and then, to be on this side of the table—it’s humbling, beyond belief.