Rob Lowe Has No Regrets About Turning Down Playing McDreamy on Grey's Anatomy

"That's not for me," Lowe said when he eventually watched the show.

By Lauren Piester Mar 27, 2019 10:14 PMTags
Rob LoweJon Kopaloff/WireImage

Imagine a world where Rob Lowe had played Derek Shepherd. 

The Grey's Anatomy doctor known as McDreamy was almost played by the Parks and Recreation star, a fact that the actor revealed back in his 2014 memoir and recently joked about it again on an episode of the podcast WTF with Marc Maron.

"That's probably cost me $70 million," he said, but not even that would have made it worth it, apparently. "Eh, it's just money." 

It actually sounds like it was the McDreamy aspect that made Lowe realize he was not the right man for the job (even if you wouldn't exactly be wrong to describe Lowe as dreamy). 

"At the end of the day it was like, I watched it when it came out. And when they started calling the handsome doctor 'McDreamy,' I was like, 'Yeah, that's not for me.'" 

Of course, Patrick Dempsey went on to play McDreamy for 11 seasons while Lowe went on to star in Brothers and Sisters, Parks and RecreationThe Grinder, and Code Black

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At the time though, Lowe was choosing between Grey's Anatomy and a show called Dr. Vegas. Grey's is still going, and you likely do not remember Dr. Vegas, because it lasted five episodes on CBS in 2004. Lowe got the call about Grey's just at the end of negotiations for Dr. Vegas, which somehow also starred Amy Adams, Sarah Lancaster, and Tom Sizemore

"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," Lowe wrote in Love Life. "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." 

Lowe said he was offered the part of Derek right off the bat, and he was "torn." 

"Grey's was a much better script; in fact, there was no comparison," he said, but... "Year after year after year, all of ABC's new dramas flopped. CBS was on a hot streak that continues to this day. Although Grey's was a much better script, I chose Dr. Vegas. The odds were just too stacked."

Ah, hindsight. Maybe, if Lowe had played him, Derek Shepherd might even still be alive

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC. 

Check out our full gallery of iconic TV roles that almost went to other famous actors