There is a certain fearlessness that drives Dean McDermott, one that drives his famous wife of three years, Tori Spelling, a little batty. Here they have two tiny children – ages two and one – together. And what does McDermott do when he’s not acting? He races motorcycles. Really fast. Like, 170 MPH kind of fast.
But get this: He feels that this dangerous pastime makes him a better parent, a better husband – a better person. Not necessarily a safer one, however.
“It’s my therapy,” explains McDermott. “I come back from it so excited and pumped. It isn’t just an adrenaline amp. It just helps focus me on the fact I have the best life in the world, a beautiful wife and family, that I’m amazingly blessed.”
McDermott also is amazingly healthy at 42 and well understands that, with two small kids, his hobby is the kind that can cause his well-being to plummet fast and leave his two sons (including a 10-year-old from a previous marriage) and one daughter fatherless and his wife husband-less.
“Tori’s thing is, look, I understand you can get hit by a bus tomorrow,” McDermott says, “but I have to cross the street. I don’t have to put myself on a motorcycle going 180 miles an hour. I’ve made a choice. But at the same time, as I explain to my wife, I have to do it. So it’s not really a choice at all.”
Of course, we see plenty of that marital dynamic at work on their reality series “Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood,” a show that chronicles the busy couple’s balancing of work, play and child-rearing which morphed out of their bed-and-breakfast effort “Tori & Dean: Inn Love.” They hug their kids. They bicker. They kiss. They make up. They hit the road. They reunite. They kiss some more.
But it happens that the unfailingly polite and jovial McDermott remains far more than just Mr. Tori Spelling. He has carved out a surprisingly extensive and consistent body of acting work in Hollywood spanning 20 years, and his career continues to move forward with a leading-man turn in the Hallmark Channel Original Movie “Always & Forever,” premiering Saturday, October 24 (9/8c).
The movie stars McDermott as the male half of a pair of high school sweethearts who goes his separate way from his girlfriend (Rena Sofer) after graduation. The two come together again at their 20-year reunion and the feelings return with a vengeance. The great Barbara Eden of “I Dream of Jeannie” fame also stars in a flick that the Toronto native “had a blast” shooting.
“It was the first lead without Tori I’d been offered since I moved to the United States (several years ago),” McDermott said. “I really wanted to do a great job on it to reward their confidence in me and make them feel they made the right decision. It was a five-week shoot and I just had an amazing time working with Rena.”
Of course, McDermott’s wife has admitted in interviews that she fears he could stray – particularly while working with a beautiful actress like Sofer. After all, McDermott and Spelling were each married to different people when they hooked up in 2005 while shooting the made-for-TV movie “Mind Over Murder.”
But the time he and Sofer (who also is married) enjoyed together on-set was entirely innocent, McDermott assures, given that “we’re both deeply in love with our mates.”
McDermott adds, “I loved working with Rena; she’s hilarious. I mean, she’s this stunningly beautiful woman who is graceful and delicate, yet she also swears and burps like a truck driver! She can surprise you that way. But she also doesn’t like to mess around when you’re on the set. She’s like, ‘Let’s get to it.’ And so you do.”
McDermott had actually also starred in an original project previously for Hallmark Channel, the 2002 holiday entry “A Christmas Visitor.” His acting credits on IMDB.com stretch for 75 entries and include lead roles in the TV series “1-800-Missing” and the lighthearted late-1990s drama “Due South” as well as a recurring part in the Gene Roddenberry-created sci-fi effort “Earth: Final Conflict.”
These days, much of McDermott’s work time is taken up by “Home Sweet Hollywood,” which he and Tori created and executive produce as well as star in. The series’ cameras went on the “Always & Forever” set to capture the star in the midst of production in Simi Valley, CA (a mere 30 miles or so north of Hollywood).
It’s clear from chatting him up that McDermott is deeply in love with his wife, calling her, “The most beautiful and sweetest lady in the world.” He would also like to star in a scripted situation comedy with Tori as soon as the right opportunity arises, he maintains.
Yet it doesn’t take much to get McDermott back onto the subject of bikes, the fast kind from Italy like his prized Ducati. He had been riding motorcycles from the time he got his license at 16 until turning 30, when his then-wife forbade it. So he sold his bike and took a 12-year hiatus.
But over the past year, McDermott has climbed back on as an aspiring road racer, wearing “full leathers” and traveling on a track against the clock. He has crashed twice, including once while traveling more than 100 MPH, sliding some 150 feet and emerging only with an asphalt burn the size of a nickel on the palm of his hand.
“I keep telling Tori that it’s safer being on a racetrack than it is on the street, particularly if you crash,” he offers. “If you crash on the street, you’re going to hit curbs, lampposts, buildings. You’ll cause yourself real damage. When you lose control on a track, there’s nothing there to hurt you.”
And what’s it like traveling 180 miles an hour on a bike in the open air?
“There is nothing to compare it to,” McDermott assures. “You feel like a superhero.”
“Always & Forever” premieres Saturday, October 24 (9/8c)
Film encores: Saturday, October 24 (11pm/10c), Sunday, October 25 (1am/12c) and (9pm/8c), Friday, November 6 (9pm/8c) and Saturday, November 7 (3pm/2c).