Enchanted has been hailed as “Disney’s return to traditional 2D animation”, but for some fans, it’s also the return of Patrick Dempsey – a new Hollywood leading man.

With regards to the “before”, Dempsey is referring to the 80s, when he became a household name starring as a geek in a series of teen comedies like Can’t Buy Me Love and Coupe de Ville. But as he learned, being typecast in teen movies can only get you so far. Dempsey’s career hit a skid as the 90s rolled along, and it wouldn’t recover until Grey’s Anatomy “The show changed my life. It has been unbelievable for my career,” says Dempsey. “Before I got the part, there was a period that was very difficult in my career. It was strange to go from that position to success almost overnight.

It’s hard to imagine that Patrick Dempsey would have trouble seeing himself as a heartthrob. “I always find it funny when people say that I am handsome,” laughs the 42 year old, who is currently called ‘McDreamy’ by the US media for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd in the hit cable TV show Grey’s Anatomy , “I was known for being geeky and awkward before.”

The career revival led to a string of film offers. This time out, Dempsey didn’t just jump on any silly comedy. He waited until he got a script he actually liked. And that script come in the form of Enchanted – a Disney fantasy about a princess from a fairy tale world who gets sent to real life New York City by an evil witch. “Enchanted is three movies in one – romantic comedy, with animation and fantasy elements,” claims the actor. “There’s nothing like it. It will appeal to everyone.”

But Dempsey also learned that a clever script does not always make for an easy film transition. “There were all these different styles going on at once,” he says, while also mentioning that he was never fully comfortable while filming. “It was extremely challanging.

Up there in the difficult stakes were the musical dance scenes with co-star Amy Adams. “She wouldn’t let me lead, and she wouldn’t wear shoes,” he laughs when recalling the incident. “But I was wearing shoes and I accidentally stepped on her, ripping her toenail right off.” If Dempsey seems mean-spirited by laughing at such a painful event, it’s because his co-star seemed to be tough as nails. “She just went off to get a fruit smoothie. Afterwards we started dancing again.”

For a man who has experienced such highs and lows in a tough industry, Dempsey is happy things turned out the way they did. “I don’t think I could have done so well with this kind of fame earlier in my life,” he says.

attributes his down-to-earth demeanor to his wife and daughter, whom he plans to drop his career for one day “I tell my wife, one day we will move to the country. I live in Los Angeles now, but the older I get the more I want to return to nature,” says the Maine native. “Maybe back to Maine or maybe the English countryside. The land speaks to me like a church.” Don’t expect that move soon though.

He followed up with the comedy Made of Honor and yet another season of Grey’s Anatomy. “Every day now is a fairy tale, quite honestly,” he says. “I want to continue making interesting challenging movies that are non-violent. I think there is a real need for comedy in the world at the moment. Really, I just want to keep having a good career with interesting roles.”