Patrick Dempsey's marriage is sacrosanct.
So, when his wife Jillian Dempsey filed for divorce after 15 years of marriage in January 2015, his world turned upside down. So, he left ABC's Grey's Anatomy in April to focus on his film career—and, more importantly, keeping his family together. As he filmed Bridget Jones's Baby with Colin Firth and Renée Zellweger in London (in theaters Sept. 16), the actor admits he never gave up hope that he and Jillian would reconnect. "Our marriage was not something I was prepared to let go of," he says People's Sept 19 issue, on newsstands Friday. "I didn't feel like we had done all the work. And we both wanted to do that work. That's where it started."
Knowing his marriage could end was a "scary" feeling, he admits. "It's always destabilizing when you're potentially breaking up a family or you have a big section of your life that's ending."
Patrick and Jillian, both 50, are parents to daughter Tallula Dempsey, 14, and twin sons Darby Dempsey, 9, and Sullivan Dempsey, 9. They began couples counseling after the divorce filing, which Patrick says was "very important" to giving them a "new beginning."
"We decided it was time to get in there and work on our individual issues and our issues as a couple," he says. "I wasn't prepared to give up on her and she wasn't either. We were both committed. We both wanted to fight."