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Debbie Allen Says Patrick Dempsey’s Surprise Return to Grey’s Anatomy Was a ‘Valuable’ Secret

Debbie Allen Says Patrick Dempsey’s Surprise Return to Grey’s Anatomy Was a ‘Valuable’ Secret

One week after Patrick Dempsey made his third surprise appearance on season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy, Debbie Allen is discussing how the show’s cast and crew kept his return a secret.

During a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Allen noted that COVID-19 restrictions on filming did not make keeping the secret any easier for those involved.

“That secret was kept because everybody knew how valuable it was — and how amazing it was to let it explode when it came out,” she told the outlet.

“It was tough, but we’ve kept secrets before,” added Allen, 71, before recalling the time she and Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes had to keep quiet about Denzel Washington directing an episode back in 2012.

Allen stars as fan-favorite Catherine Avery and regularly works a director for the show.

Shonda and I kept a secret for three months when I got Denzel Washington to direct an episode,” she said. “Nobody on the show even knew until he walked onstage for his first day. There’s a CIA component to making a show like Grey’s Anatomy.”

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Dempsey, 55, first surprised fans when he reprised his role as the late Derek Shepherd during the season 17 premiere in November.

Derek, the late husband of Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey, died in a tragic car crash in the series’ season 11. However, he reemerged during one of Meredith’s dreams while she battled a severe case of COVID-19.

Since then, Derek has appeared in Meredith’s COVID dreams twice more, including in the most recent episode. According to showrunner Krista Vernoff’s past statements about Derek’s storyline, fans will spot him one more time before the season’s close.

George O’Malley (T.R. Knight), who died in Grey’s season 5 after saving a woman from getting hit by a bus, also made an appearance in Meredith’s dreams this season, prompting fans to wonder if more past stars would return to the long-running medical drama.

“We all have hopes, but we don’t have anything new to report yet,” Vernoff told Variety in December of whether viewers can expect future cameos

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