Rob Lowe came up with painful numbers after calculating how much it ‘cost’ him to turn down the role of Dr. Derek Shepherd. But the ‘Code Black’ star revealed why the character was ‘not’ for him in a new podcast.
Rob Lowe, 55, opted to star in Dr. Vegas instead of the most famous medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy, a decision that his wallet felt. “Dude, I turned down Grey’s Anatomy…to play McDreamy,” the West Wing star said on the March 25 episode of the WTF with Marc Maron podcast. McDreamy was the nickname for surgeon Derek Shepherd, M.D. on Grey’s Anatomy, a role that Patrick Dempsey would instead take on for 10 years (2005-2015). Rob could’ve been immortalized as the dreamiest doctor on television, and so he added, “That probably cost me $70 million dollars!” Despite the major “what if,” he doesn’t regret his decision, even though Dr. Vegas was cancelled after a one month run.
“But at the end of the day, I watched it when it came out, and when they started calling the handsome doctor ‘McDreamy,’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s not for me,'” Rob confessed on the podcast. Turning down the role certainly didn’t affect his career, as he went on to star in Brothers & Sisters from 2006-2010, Californication from 2011-2014, Parks & Recreation from 2010-2015, and voiced Simba in The Lion Guard from 2016-2019. He even found the appropriate fit in another doctor role for the CBS drama Code Black, which aired from 2015-2018.
Rob went into depth on why he chose Dr. Vegas over Grey’s Anatomy in his 2011 memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends. ABC’s track record had scared him off, as he wrote that “year after year, all of ABC’s new dramas flopped.” However, he did admit that Grey’s Anatomy had a “much better script” and that there was “no comparison,” which the show went on to prove by breaking the record for the longest-running medical drama on TV. Shonda Rhimes’ series surrounding the lives of doctors at the fictional Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital aired in 2005 and is still scheduled to run Season 16.
Before Grey’s Anatomy began filming, Rob was already close to finalizing his deal with Dr. Vegas, a CBS drama that also starred Amy Adams but was yanked after five episodes in 2004. “After a week of negotiating, my deal was done, although not yet signed. It was then that I got an urgent call from the producers of a potential new show for ABC called Grey’s Anatomy,” Rob also wrote in his memoir. “I agreed to meet with the people making Grey’s Anatomy. I had read it and loved it—the writing was crisp, real and very entertaining—and it’s always been a good idea to hear out talented people.” Well, everything happens for a reason!