Patrick Dempsey felt like his 'Grey's Anatomy' return was "a very healing process".

Patrick Dempsey

Patrick Dempsey

The 54-year-old actor made a shocking appearance in the season 17 premiere this week as he reprised his role of Derek Shepherd - who died after a car crash in series 11 - in a beach dream sequence with Ellen Pompeo's character Meredith Grey, who falls unconscious in the hospital car park.

Revealing how he was approached by Ellen, he told Deadline: "We hadn’t spoken or been together for a while. It was a great opportunity to catch up and say, 'OK, what can we do for all the frontline responders?'

"I’ve been tracking what Grey’s had been doing with giving masks, and making sure that people had the right equipment, and it came from that place.

"'OK, what can we do to make people feel better, to give some comfort in this time of uncertainty,' and that’s how it began. And it was really a wonderful experience to go back, to work with [director/EP] Debbie [Allen]...

"The whole atmosphere has changed, certainly working at the beach, and seeing everybody again was really a very healing process, and really rewarding, and a lot of fun."

And Patrick - who will also appear in next week's episode 'My Happy Ending' - is hoping fans will be suitably satisfied by the way the story is being told on screen.

He added: "And hopefully, that feeling translates, and the fans enjoy it.

"I know that they’ve been wanting us to get back together, and I think this will satisfy a lot of people, and surprise a lot of people, hopefully...

"It was great. It was really fun, very special. It felt really comfortable, incredibly safe."

He even revealed he's open to do more with the show in the future, and explained how the current situation around the US and the rest of the world inspired his comeback.

He said: "With everything that we’re dealing with right now, and certainly we have been distracted with the election, but we’re going to get back into the reality of COVID and being in a pandemic, and all the lives that have been lost.

"Where are these souls going? And I think that’s what attracted me to this storyline, I think it can be really helpful and healing to so many people."