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Patrick Dempsey misses the romantic comedy

The co-star of "Bridget Jones's Diary" remembers when rom-coms were everywhere.
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    Patrick Dempsey plays Jack, the new, very nice other love interest (along with Col|Universal Pictures

Patrick Dempsey knows he can’t top Hugh Grant. The “Grey’s Anatomy” alum, 50, is the new second love interest in “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” the third in the Renee Zellweger-led series and first since 2004’s “The Edge of Reason.” But his character, Jack, is nothing like Grant’s Daniel Cleaver. He’s the opposite of a jerk — nice and friendly and perhaps a little too overeager, especially compared to Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy. Dempsey talks to us about how his new film is a too rare rom-com, people who don’t know Abbott and Costello and his sideline as a professional racecar driver.

Jack is the opposite of Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy, in that he’s reserved and Jack’s overeager. Do you find you’d get even more upbeat when acting opposite Firth?
Yeah, because the intention is to get him to break — to see how much can you push him and how much fun can you have trying to break him. That’s why there’s always a twinkle in my eye, because I’m always on the verge of making that happen.

Did you crack Colin up? He’s made a point of saying he’s not like Mark in real life, so maybe that’s not impossible.
He’s got a great sense of humor, so he was game. We would mess around and the director would yell at us to get it back together.

RELATED: Interview: Colin Firth swears he's nothing like Mark Darcy

Rom-coms are weirdly thin on the ground these days.
They’re not making these types of movies anymore. You try to find one now and there’s nothing in production for the old style of romantic comedies. That’s why I think there’s such an appetite for this film, and for Bridget in general: Those types of characters just don’t exist, those very strong female protagonists in romantic comedies.

I worry that people are starting to forget it as a genre, like they forget about a lot of old movie genres.
I met a young comedy writer and we were talking about “Who’s on First?” And he didn’t know what that was. I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. You’ve never heard that? I’m leaving the room now.” It was old when I was young. The idea that people don’t know Abbott and Costello and they’re comedy writers just goes to show that sensibility is really lost. It’s very sad.

I have to admit I didn’t know you were a professional racecar driver, if only because I don’t follow racing. You gave it up recently. Do you think you’ll go back?
I would love to, but at that leveI of racing, it’s a profession in and of itself. It needs that type of attention. It’s a full-time commitment. I was in the WEC [World Endurance Championship], so you’re traveling around the world. It takes a week or two to do one race. You lose all this time with your children as well. So there’s a real balance that’s needed. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do it and would love to continue racing, but it’s a question of what the priority and focus is. So I’m not sure at this point.

You’re actually trying to get a project off the ground about F1 racers. You could really show what it’s like to be in the middle of a race.
You can watch a race from the point of view of a driver. But that’s not what I want to see. What I want to see is the drama surrounding it — what it takes to get into the car, what they’re dealing with on an emotional level. That’s far more interesting than trying to recreate a race. That doesn’t appeal to me.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 

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