Patrick Dempsey on making vulnerability look heroic in ‘Disenchanted’

Patrick Dempsey on making vulnerability look heroic in ‘Disenchanted’

The actor returns for the Enchanted sequel as Robert, now searching for his own purpose after marrying a princess.

By Yolanda Machado November 20, 2022 at 05: 00 PM EST

Patrick Dempsey didn’t get to do much singing and dancing in Disney’s 2007 hit Enchanted, but this time around, in the new sequel Disenchanted (now on Disney ), he cuts loose. 

“It was really fun to be able to go into fairy-tale land with Robert,” Dempsey tells EW. “For me, that was the exciting part about coming back to the film.”

Returning to the role and reuniting with costar Amy Adams meant the actor had to learn his choreography — with a sword to boot. “The sword was fun,” he notes, smiling, “but they kept taking the real sword away from me and giving me the plastic one, so it didn’t have quite the edge.”

Patrick Dempsey as Robert Philip in Disney’s live-action DISENCHANTED, exclusively on Disney . Photo by Alex Bailey. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Back in Enchanted, Dempsey’s Robert was a cynical New York lawyer and single father, one who wanted his preteen daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey), to know that fairy tales and happily-ever-afters weren’t real. But after finding a princess on a billboard, Robert had a change of heart, ultimately falling in love with Adams’ Giselle.

And they lived happily ever after — for at least ten years anyway. In Disenchanted, after a new baby arrives, the couple and a now-teenage Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino) decide to move their growing family to Monroeville, a cookie-cutter suburb that looks like it’s out of a storybook. But as each of the family members have their own struggles in the new town, Giselle makes a wish, turning Monroeville into Monrolasia while also giving everyone a fairy tale of their own. Robert becomes a sword-wielding knight in waiting searching for his meaning in life. 

“At the beginning [of Disenchanted], they make this big shift to improve the quality of their life and the environment that their children are in,” says Dempsey. “And with all of that, it brings up a lot of conflict and turmoil — individually, and then collectively as a family. He’s not happy with that choice and he’s questioning is it the right thing to do and what he should be doing with the rest of his life.”

(L-R): Amy Adams as Giselle, Sofia (played by Mila & Lara Jackson), Gabriella Baldacchino as Morgan Philip, and Patrick Dempsey as Robert Philip in Disney’s live-action DISENCHANTED, exclusively on Disney . Courtesy of Disney Enterprises; Inc. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Credit: Courtesy of Disney Enterprises

Dempsey reveals that in creating Robert’s story, he and director Adam Shankman really wanted to explore frustration. “It’s the question: Is anybody happy right now in the family?” the actor says. “And for him to have that moment of vulnerability, I think, is important for all of us.”

He adds, “The real strength in a man is to be able to show your vulnerability. That doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re connected and you’re strong enough to go, Here’s what I’m feeling, this is what I need. That’s part of being heroic, by saying you don’t know. That I hurt, that I am sad. There’s a strength in that. There’s not a weakness in that. And I think it’s been misinterpreted. I think it’s changing, but it’s something that we need to do a better job of role-modeling.”

Will he be singing and dancing again anytime soon? The former Grey’s Anatomy star won’t rule it out.

“When you do a musical, there’s a real sense of company with the dancers and the singers,” Dempsey says. “I didn’t realize how much I missed and really enjoyed it. If I was asked, I’d definitely do it again.”

Disenchanted is now streaming on Disney .

Related content:

Read More