The Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston rolled out the red carpet for "McDreamy," aka New England native Patrick Dempsey, who brought a special screening of The Art of Racing in the Rain to the museum on Tuesday night.
The former Grey's Anatomy star, who served as a producer on the film, was joined by The Art of Racing in the Rain director Simon Curtis and screenwriter Mark Bomback. Based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain follows the story of a dog named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner) and his heartwarming relationship with his human family, played by Milo Ventimiglia and Amanda Seyfried. While it's been a long journey getting this adaptation to the big screen, Dempsey tells Boston Common that he's thrilled to finally show the movie to audiences in Boston after nearly a decade in development.
"It’s really special. It’s nice to come back home," says Dempsey. "Hopefully people enjoy it. I think the messaging is really important right now."
Despite the years of waiting and multiple studio changes, Bomback had a wonderful time on The Art of Racing in the Rain. Having primarily worked on action-oriented projects in the past, the screenwriter—who's currently filming the Apple TV+ series Defending Jacob around Massachusetts with Bay State native Chris Evans—was excited to dive into a more family-focused story after reading Stein's novel. The experience even inspired Bomback to change his petless ways and become a proud pup papa.
“I kind of just fell in love with [the story] in a way that I didn’t expect,” says Bomback. “And now I have two dogs.”
And while the film boasts a ton of A-list stars, the adorable golden retriever Enzo will definitely be a scene stealer for fans.
“I will say, the dogs in this film were easy to work with than some of the actors I’ve worked with in the past on other films,” jokes Curtis.
Tuesday's event also served as a benefit for the actor's nonprofit The Dempsey Center, which provides free wellness services to patients receiving cancer treatment. Dempsey was inspired to start the center in 2008 following his mother's experiences with multiple bouts of cancer.
Based out of his home state of Maine, The Dempsey Center currently has two locations in Lewiston and South Portland. Dempsey admits that he feels truly blessed to be able to use his star power in order to give back to his community.
"I think it’s what life is about, ultimately," says Dempsey. "You’re not doing something for yourself, but for the person next to you. It’s hard to put into words what that means."
"Fame in itself is really quite empty," he adds. "But if you can use it in a positive way and you’re making an impact on people’s lives—that’s what it’s about."