Grey Sloan Memorial almost had another man of everyone's McDreams roaming its halls and saving patients' lives. Before he even put on a pair of scrubs, Rob Lowe turned down Grey's Anatomy's McDreamy role, the actor revealed on a WTF with Marc Maron podcast interview posted on March 25. In the end, of course, Patrick Dempsey won the part of Dr. Derek Shepherd and went on to portray the beloved handsome neurosurgeon for 11 seasons from 2005-2015 on the ABC medical drama. “That’s probably cost me $70 million,” Lowe joked to Maron, adding, “Eh, it’s just money.”
At the time, the character hadn't yet earned the affection of Ellen Pompeo's Dr. Meredith Grey — or his "McDreamy" moniker. When the latter happened, however, Lowe humbly realized he had made the right decision. As he added to Maron during the podcast: “Listen, 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.’”
According to E! News, at the time Lowe received the Grey's offer, he was already close to securing the role of another medical professional: Dr. Billy Grant on the ill-fated CBS drama, Dr. Vegas. The series, in which Lowe starred alongside Amy Adams, Sarah Lancaster, and Tom Sizemore, ran only a handful of episodes in 2014 before its cancellation.
"After a week of negotiating, my deal was done, although not yet signed, Lowe wrote in his 2014 memoir Love Life, per E!. "It was then that I got an urgent call from the producers of a potential new show for ABC called Grey's Anatomy. 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."
Despite also immediately being offered the McDreamy role by ABC at the time, a "torn" Lowe was ultimately lured to Dr. Vegas by former CBS Charmain and CEO Les Moonves. As Lowe reflected in his 2014 book, "Grey's was a much better script; in fact, there was no comparison, 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."
As everyone now knows, however, Grey's is still going strong 15 seasons later — and has even surpassed NBC's ER as the longest-running American medical drama in history, with more than 332 episodes aired to date.
Despite Lowe's unfortunate decision, he still scored several more TV roles afterward, including Robert McCallister on ABC's Brothers & Sisters, Eddie Nero on Showtime's Californication, Chris Traeger on NBC's Parks & Recreation, and another doctor, Ethan Willis, on anoter CBS medical drama, Code Black. Now, Lowe is also currently hosting Fox's new competition series, Mental Samurai.
Of course everything happens for a reason, and TV fans got to spend time with both Dempsey and Lowe — though almost in very different capacities.