When Martin Henderson walked onto the set of Grey’s Anatomy, he knew he had some pretty “big shoes” to fill given the fact that news outlets were touting him as the “McDreamy” replacement.
Given the legendary fan base built up around Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd character, and their love of his relationship with Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), we can’t say we blame him. Of course things quickly grew more complicated when it turned out that Henderson’s character (Nathan Riggs) and Meredith also happened to share a sexual spark. By the end of the 12th season they had of course given into those urges (this is Grey’s, after all), but not before Mer’s sister Maggie (Kelly McCreary) also happened to develop a crush on Riggs.
Oh, hey there potential Season 13 love triangle.
“I just thought I was going to hook up with Maggie, I really did. And so when the kiss happened with Meredith, I was shocked. I mean I was kind of floored actually,” Henderson tells us about the shocking turn of events. “One thing that Shonda Rhimes loves to do is set up expectations and then twist it. So who knows what’s going to happen next season, but I suspect that part of what draws, and maybe will continue to draw Meredith and Nathan together is their shared experience with the loss. There’s a common bond there.”
It wasn’t the perception of replacing McDreamy, nor the salacious love triangle that turned out to be complicated for Henderson to shoot. In fact the scene that was perhaps hardest of all for the New Zealand native was one that most people probably wouldn’t even think twice about: the scene in which Riggs offered Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) a drink at the bar, even though she’s an alcoholic.
Of course Riggs — a hospital newbie — had no way of knowing Amelia’s dark past; but it set a chain of events in motion that had the female Dr. Shepherd back in a pretty dark and twisty place. A place that Henderson himself is familiar with given the fact that he’s 14 years sober in real life.
“I kind of hated that scene, personally. Obviously from the character’s perspective he didn’t have a clue — I’m sure he would never have offered her a drink had he known she was sober,” Henderson says. “But as someone who is sober and who has been sober a long time, I really cringed at that. I didn’t like the idea of it. In my own life I would obviously never do that. I felt terrible.”
Luckily Amelia — who tied the knot with Riggs’ former best friend Owen (Kevin McKidd) in the finale — is back on the wagon and doing just fine. For now anyhow. And Riggs has bigger problems in store for him when the show returns next fall anyhow, like getting his friend back or figuring out which sister he may or may not be with. If it’s Meredith, he just hopes that one thing is clear: he never considered himself the next McDreamy and he knows that is one dude who can’t ever be replaced. In fact, we may need a whole new McName for the character altogether.
“Those are some big shoes to fill. I don’t think anyone will ever replace him. What Patrick did for the show and the fans was so huge,” Henderson says. “I have a lot of respect for him and for how much fans cared about him. [At first] I was curious as to how I would be received because I think we’re very different. Patrick’s departure was such a big deal, but at the end of the day there’s only ever going to be one McDreamy.”
All right so how about we start calling him McKiwi? He is from New Zealand after all. McSweetie? Or what about McSleazy? You know, because of the love triangle stuff…
Yeah, okay. We’ll keep thinking on that one.