The Parks & Rec actor initially discussed how he turned down the major TV role in his 2011 memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends. Lowe divulged that he was already in contract negotiations to star on an upcoming CBS show called Dr. Vegas when he got a call from the ABC producers. “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,” he recalled. “‘We would be thrilled if you would play Dr. Derek Shepherd,’ they said right off the bat. I was torn. Grey’s was a much better script; in fact, there was no comparison.”
During a March 2019 podcast episode of “WTF With Marc Maron,” the Californication actor brought it up again. “Dude, I turned down Grey’s Anatomy … to play McDreamy.” He added, “That probably cost me $70 million dollars!” The About Last Night star explained, “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.’” The role eventually went to Patrick Dempsey, who played the heartthrob from 2005 to 2015.
The actor revealed in November 2018 that he auditioned for the role, which eventually went to Leonardo DiCaprio. “I wanted that,” he said on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast. “I auditioned with Kate Winslet. Had a good audition. Walked away from there pretty confident that I had it. I didn’t get it. I never got offered that.”