On Thursday (12Nov20) night's season 17 premiere Pompeo's Meredith Grey collapsed in the hospital parking lot and a dream sequence took place, which saw her reunited with Dempsey's Derek Shepherd - who died on the show back in April, 2015.
Explaining how his return came about, the star tells Deadline, "I came across a photo that I was going to post that had Ellen and I, and I think that produced a call where I reached out to Ellen, and this was right around, the conversation was starting for season 17."
"We hadn't spoken or been together for a while. It was a great opportunity to catch up and say, okay, what can we do for all the frontline responders (amid the pandemic)?" he explains.
During the Covid-19 crisis, bosses from the show have been sharing medical equipment from the set with those in need and, according to Dempsey, he was keen to "make people feel better, to give some comfort in this time of uncertainty."
"I think the whole atmosphere has changed, certainly working at the beach, and seeing everybody again was really a very healing process, and really rewarding, and a lot of fun," he confessed. "And hopefully, that feeling translates, and the fans enjoy it. I know that they've been wanting us to get back together, and I think this will satisfy a lot of people, and surprise a lot of people, hopefully."
Dempsey went on to add that it was "really enjoyable" to get back into character as Derek, and "great to see everybody."
"The dynamic behind the camera had changed. There's much more diversity within the crew," he noted. "There was a nice balance, too, of equality that I was seeing. So, culturally, there was a lot of things that were different, that I thought were very positive and very inspiring, actually."