With a People's Choice Award under his belt, a runaway hit on television, and a new movie in theaters, Patrick Dempsey seems to be on top of the world.
But the road to becoming "Grey's Anatomy's" Derek Shepherd (aka "Dr. McDreamy") was far from smooth.
Dempsey first shot to fame 20 years ago, playing a geeky teen in the 1980s cult classic "Can't Buy Me Love." He fell from favor as fast as he rose to success: Dempsey's stint as a heartthrob was short-lived, and his career quickly flat lined.
Years of auditions and rejections taught the actor to concentrate on honing his craft.
"You let go of the end result and you just. … Go in and do it for your own reasons," he told ABC's Juju Chang.
Dempsey learned to focus on his acting rather than the people around him.
"I think when you're younger you're looking outside of yourself so much that you think that's the important thing -- what someone else is doing, as opposed to just taking a breath and going, 'This is who I am,' and being honest with yourself and owning it," he said.
Steamy Hot-Tub Scenes, on Camera and Off
Over the years, Dempsey built up his confidence. He said he sometimes must rely on his confidence more than his acting skills for shoots such as a recent bathtub scene with "Grey's Anatomy" co-star Ellen Pompeo.
"I don't think the technique helps you there at all," he said. "It's just you have to be present and thank God the water is really hot."
Off screen, Dempsey saves hot-tub dates for his wife, makeup artist Jillian Fink. The two met when his career was less than stellar.
"I think the success I'm having is because of her and the strength that she gives me," he said. "She's very supportive and allows me to live a really good life."
Dempsey and Fink have a 5-year-old daughter, Tallulah, and they're about to welcome twin boys into the family. In the actor's family, it's the more, the merrier.
"Kids are amazing," Dempsey said. "They change your life for the better and. … It's unlike anything else."
Before he gets back on diaper duty, Dempsey is returning to the big screen, starring opposite Oscar winner Hillary Swank in "Freedom Writers." His role is small but instrumental: Dempsey plays the husband of an intrepid inner-city teacher.
"I didn't need to take a movie just to star in a movie," he said. "I wanted to be a part of something I believed in."
While Dempsey relished his time in the movie, he's not hanging up his scrubs yet. The actor will continue to make his fans swoon as "Dr. McDreamy." As for what McDreamy actually means, Dempsey has a theory.
"[He] sort of represents the perfect male," he said.
Millions of "Grey's Anatomy" viewers would likely agree.