Jeffrey Dean Morgan Reflects Upon Denny

at . Comments

He did not go gently, and death was definitely not proud.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan hoped, prayed, schemed and finally begged for the life of his Grey's Anatomy character, Denny Duquette, according to the L.A. Times. At one point, he marched into the office of creator / executive producer Shonda Rhimes, turned on the charm and pleaded.
One Happy Man

"Please, please, just let me live," Morgan asked.

Rhimes was sympathetic, but unwavering. On the season finale, as fans have lamented for weeks now, Denny survived a difficult heart transplant, asked Izzie to marry him, then succumbed to a stroke. Denny quietly breathed his last with no one in the room (save 20 million viewers at home).

"It was a grim day, let me tell you. A dark, grim day. I'm still not over it. It broke my heart to leave that show," said Morgan of his death scene.

In becoming one of TV's top hits, Grey's Anatomy has built and maintained a devoted following, many of whom held out hope that the ailing patient would somehow pull through. Fans have voiced sorrow and outrage since his death. Some are even in denial to the point where they believe Denny may somehow come back to life.

"I don't think so," Morgan said, grinning. "I mean, I was blue."

But there is life after death for the actor, who has toiled for 15 years with guest roles on pretty much every TV show you can think of. Fans are approaching him in public, old friends are coming out of the woodwork and producers who wouldn't have given him the time of day a year ago are suddenly calling.

"It's very weird. I mean, I've been kicking around this town for years. For an actor, it's usually just about paying the mortgage and keeping the dog fed. But now I can actually think about the kind of projects I want to do. Now I can actually say no if I want," Morgan said.

Leaning back with an iced coffee in a cafe in Toluca Lake, Calif., where he resides, Morgan has the look of someone who can't quite believe he's in the position he's in. He had, in fact, turned down an audition that day, since he just agreed to do a movie starring Lisa Kudrow and Teri Garr that begins shooting next week in Austin, Texas.

"It's a small part," Morgan said. "But can you imagine, Lisa Kudrow? And Teri Garr? I mean, Tootsie, that's just amazing."

Of course, life's not perfect, and if he had been able to choose precisely what he wanted to do, Morgan would be back on Grey's Anatomy.

"Oh, I came up with lots of ideas for how I could come back," he said. "I mean, what if Denny had a twin brother named Lenny, who was a pediatric surgeon? They need a pediatric surgeon in that hospital."

Yet he went into the Denny gig knowing he was a goner. Rhimes saw him as Mary-Louise Parker's dead husband on Weeds (Morgan jokes that it was his year, apparently, to play the dead and dying) and asked him to audition.

Shonda Rhimes is intensely secretive regarding plots, so Morgan was given only basic information. While he would appear in multiple episodes, his story arc would end eventually in the death of his character.

Which, at the time, was more than alright with Morgan. He thought initially that he might be brought in as a romantic diversion for Meredith, played by lead actress and narrator Ellen Pompeo. It wasn't until after he took the job and got a script that he realized his love interest would be Dr. Izzie Stevens, played by Katherine Heigl.

"No one knew how much the story would take on a life of its own," Morgan said. "I don't think even Shonda knew how the fans would be drawn to the romance. It was pretty incredible."

Over the course of his time on Grey's Anatomy, Morgan experienced what it was like to be a pivotal character in one of the hottest dramas on TV.

To an outsider, it might seem like an easy role. Morgan was in a hospital gown and lying bed for virtually every one of his scenes. Yet the confines of Denny's disease were what made the role so challenging.

"I definitely give it to the writers," he said. "They created a guy who could charm a room without moving, but it took a lot of effort."

Denny was seen out of bed only twice, once in his first episode — the only time you see him in regular clothes — and then towards the end, after his LVAD wire was implanted and he became a bit more mobile.

"I cannot tell you how excited I was to see a scene with him walking," Morgan joked. "I started thinking, 'oh, maybe he'll be able to go outside, maybe we'll get to go to Seattle.' Then I turn the page, and nope, he's falling down the stairs and back to bed."

Still, it was the best work an actor can get when flat on his back.

"I had no idea what it would be like. How attached I would get. To Denny and everyone there. It is such a great show, such a great group of people. It was the only time in my career when I didn't mind getting up at 5:30 in the morning, didn't mind the 16-hour days. I couldn't believe it. So yes, I fought to stay," Morgan said.

He and other cast members fought for Denny's life. Even the network itself threw in its two cents.

"We didn't get the final pages until, like, a day before shooting. At the table reading, I can't bear to look, but I'm sitting next to [Patrick] Dempsey, and he's flipping through to the end, and he's saying, 'I don't see it, man, I don't see a death scene. I think you're going to live,'" Morgan recalled.

The reason for that, of course, was that the death of Denny occupied about three lines of the script, at the very end. When he reached that point in the script, Morgan collapsed for his chair onto the floor. Heigl looked at him, sharing his pain.

In addition to being emotionally wrenching, the death scene was technically difficult. When Denny died, he simply looked momentarily puzzled, leaned back, and drifted off. But in an ensuing scene, Izzie was a basket case, lying next to his corpse and refusing to leave while her fellow interns tried to talk her out of the room.

"Everyone's saying, 'What we really need is for you not to breathe, Jeff,'" Morgan said. "And I'm like, 'It's a four-minute scene, man.' And Katie's right beside me, crying, bless her heart, but the tears are hitting me on the neck and... that was driving me crazy."

Still, he pulled it off and suddenly it was over -- a fact that still hasn't really resonated with the 40-year old.

"I have definitely been laying low for the last few weeks. I mean, how can they do the show without me? What's going to happen to Izzie? Who did Denny leave his money to? Are they going to have a funeral? They should definitely have a funeral," he said.

Distraught as he is over his own demise, Morgan realizes he is standing on the edge of opportunity. The choices he makes next could carry him, and his asking price, into another echelon. Or, he could simply fade away. A piece of Grey's Anatomy trivia.

"I'm just looking always for characters that change, because I want to get better, as an actor and as a person. But basically," said Morgan, who would like to do more movies as well as TV. "I'd really like to work with Shonda again; I would follow that woman anywhere."

Seek and you shall receive. Morgan recently became the first actor to be cast in the Untitled Shonda Rhimes Project, which will be filming this fall for an ABC piolt. As for who he's playing, Morgan has no clue. After all, we're talking about Shonda.

"She just told me it was the best character she'd ever written," he said. "That's good enough for me."

For now, he's trying to savor the moment.

"I am really going to try hard not to screw up. But in the end it's a crapshoot. You never know what's going to take off and what isn't. It's been great, though. I mean, it is great. Really great.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan Reflects Upon Denny

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


They killed off Denny, yet they kept McSteamy and Cali on as regulars of the show ... hmm ... I don't get that one. McSteamy and Cali have absolutely no presence in front of those cameras. Jeffrey Dean had more presence and charisma in his left hand than they have in their enire bodies. I'm really bored when I watch those 2 new regulars now and can't believe that my heart has been ripped off from the opportunity to, "putter, putter," when I see the interaction between Denny and Izzie. I'm still making a decision on whether to continue watching this show. It's good (mainly because of Katherine), but it could have been so much better!


Thank you for introducing us to our new favorite character who will never leave our hearts Denny Duquette, and a new favorite actor Mr. Jeffrey Dean Morgan who we can't wait to see act again. We love them both. Denial is the first stage of grief I bet your writers are glad that Millions of Denny's faithful fans are ready to move on with the grieving process. Let's hope that the Academy Awards people are made aware of all this when it comes to the "writer" catagory not only for season one and two, but for the best is yet to come season three!!! Keep up the amazing work knowing you have our full support. One of the Millions of Greys Anatomy Faithful!


En España, Denny murió la semana pasada ( acabó entonces la segunda temporada ) y me sumo a la tristeza del público y a la indignación con los guionistas. ¿Tan terrible hubiera sido un "happy end" por una vez? Seguiré viendo la serie, pero sin el aliciente de la historia entre Izzie-Denny no será lo mismo. Esas sonrisas, esas miradas... una de las mejores historias de amor de las series actuales!!!


hello my name is Shirley i'am 15years old I come from Belgium and i fiend that you a very good actor are and i love you so much but i anderstand if you don't very good anderstand what i say oke i go leave you good bye and answer me please xxxx... kisses


I never cry in tv shows or movies but i bawled my eyes out when denny died, and every time he came up in an episode in season 3 (especially the message). I feel like my fiance died! i still cannot get over his death, but I think that if he were to live, it wouldn't be the same and it wouldn't be as moving or riveting. Denny and Izzie's love was so passionate but also so innocent and so completely about each other as people, which may not have been able to happen if Denny had lived to get stronger. His death was the most depressing thing ever EVER ever, but he will be remembered as absolutely perfect because of it


je suis une maman de 35 ans et J'ai beaucoup pleuré lors du dernier épisode de grey's anatomy. La mort de Denny et ses conditions étaient insoutenables, injustes. Denny est un super mec d'âge mur qui ne méritait pas comme personne cette fin tragique alors que tout laissait espérer un avenir heureux...J'espère que les futurs épisodes exploseront de bonheur !!!!!! ce qui fait peur c'est le fait que ce soit une fiction vraisemblable.....


J'ai beaucoup aimé Denny dans la serie.
Il est plein de charme et donne envie de le connaitre.


Desde España, Morgan, nos has enamorado a todas. Eres un gran actor y espero que tengas muchas oportunidades. Mucha suerte!!!


I live in France and last night they played the last episode, where Denny dies ! What a shame ! That man was THE MAN of the show, he really hunks out McDreamy and all these guys with "Republican looks" or metrosexual looks - I love those dimples ! I can't wait to see him in another show. He's more than welcome to visit us in France !


I am tickled Jeffrey Dean Morgan is going to be in a new show that will most definately be a huge success. However, Greys will never be the same without Denny. He invaded the lives of these interns and made as Izzie said, MADE US ALL LOVE HIM!! Even the Nazi! When poor Denny was in the body bag and she told him she was sorry! Sobbing!! Awesome TV! So knowing the Greys Anatomy powers that be are brilliant, knowing that Jeffrey Dean Morgan and "Shonda Rhimes" will give us yet another show we can't wait to watch. That is all well and good but none of that will make up for the loss of Izzie's beloved Denny! So now is the time to watch Izzie grieve, and let Denny rest in peace,


Grey's Anatomy Quotes

There's a reason I said I'd be happy alone. It wasn't 'cause I thought I'd be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It's easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don't have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.


Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)