Jeffrey Dean Morgan awaits his fate
by William Keck
(April 20, 2006) (Source)

TOLUCA LAKE, Calif. -- This sort of thing is happening more and more to Jeffrey Dean Morgan: In a restaurant parking lot near the Grey's Anatomy actor's home, a man approaches the actor, telling him, "My wife says you're dying, but you look healthy enough to me."

"You can't die," the man's wife pleads to the handsome and unshaven star. "You're too cute to die."

This gets a laugh out of Morgan, a Seattle native.

The couple is referencing Morgan's most talked-about role -- as Grey's heart patient Denny, who has developed a romance with Izzie (Katherine Heigl) from his hospital bed as he awaits a transplant. (When the next new episode of Grey's airs April 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, Denny will be seen standing upright in his own clothes.) This Sunday's Grey's is a compilation episode in which viewers can catch up on his character's story line.

Morgan also has appeared twice on Showtime's Weeds (which returns in August), as Mary-Louise Parker's dead husband (via old camcorder footage and fantasy).

And he plays the often-MIA dad on WB's Supernatural (Thursday, 9 p.m. ET/PT), a man targeted for death by evil forces. He returned in last night's episode, the first in a season-ending trilogy culminating on May 4. "It's basically Dad and boys hunting what killed my wife and one of their girlfriends, and trying to bring an end to it," says Morgan, who has been in talks about returning next season.

His decision to accept or decline Supernatural's offer will depend on what happens today at a table read for the final hour of Grey's three-hour season finale. There, the cast will learn details on the cliffhanger's final moments. "We'll all read it together, and that's when we'll know," he says. Chief among Morgan's concerns: whether Denny will live through to Season 3.

And with the actor turning 40 on Saturday, he's hoping he'll have cause to celebrate.

"The last decade has been a little rough, so I'm hoping to start this one on the right foot," Morgan says. "I would bend over backward to be back on Grey's. Any day, I'll choose lying in bed with Katherine Heigl looking over me over getting thrown against walls by supernatural persons at 5 in the morning."

Despite past regular roles on UPN's The Burning Zone (1996-97) and CBS' The Handler (2004), Morgan is enjoying his first taste of true fame. Casting directors have told him he has reached a level of maturity that makes him hot property. But he still worries it could all end today -- literally.

As before every table read, Morgan will receive comforting pats on the back from concerned Grey's co-stars who worry that it might be curtains for Denny. He has become particularly close to Heigl. Asked whether off-screen sparks could develop with her, Morgan explains, "Katie's one of my bestest friends -- love her to death, but she's got a great boyfriend. ... And you shouldn't date your co-stars. It's never a good idea."

He says he speaks from experience.

Morgan says he was planning a future with his actress girlfriend of a year and a half when he learned she was involved with another man. "It's a really bad way to go," says the still-stung star. "I'm like Jennifer Aniston -- I'm that guy." Morgan says the evening before this interview, he learned the identity of the "other man."

So what's Morgan looking for in a mate?

"Well," he says, smiling, "someone to laugh with. And fidelity would be nice."

© USA Today and William Keck. No copyright infringement intended.