Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

His Best Role Yet John C. McGinley on Being a Dad

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

His Best Role Yet John C. McGinley on Being a Dad

Article excerpt

John C. McGinley stars in the hit television sitcom Scrubs, where he plays Dr. Perry Cox, the Residency Director for the hospital who routinely rants at and belittles his younger staff. Dr. Cox is sarcastic, narcissistic, sometimes illogical and self-destructive, and more than anything else--hysterical. McGinley plays Cox with impeccable comedic timing in delivering the character's cruel wit with run-on insults and perfectly executed monologues. At first, upon meeting the man behind the fictional doctor, it seems the two have nothing in common. John C. McGinley is kind, warm, welcoming, and shows no signs of his frustrated and agitated alter ego. But there is more to Dr. Cox, and there is more to John C. McGinley. Cox actually has a huge heart and cares greatly for those around him and McGinley ... well, ask him what he thinks of people who make fun of individuals with special needs, and you are likely to find yourself on the receiving end of a Cox-like, verbal tirade in defense of anyone who has ever met a bully.

Exceptional Parent magazine recently had the chance to meet with McGinley and discuss his career--Scrubs will air its eighth season beginning in January on ABC--and the role he considers to be his most important ever, being the father to his eleven-year-old son Max, who has Down syndrome.

* Exceptional Parent (EP): Do you enjoy working on Scrubs, and does your schedule and commitment to the show allow for a lot of time with Max?

* John C. McGinley (JCM): I love doing Scrubs because it keeps me close to Max. When you go do a film, you've got to pick everything up and go wherever you're going to shoot--Buenos Aires, the Philippines--for four months. And the chances are, when you do go and relocate, that unfortunately whatever you're shooting just isn't going to be that great. Just because of the number of quality movies that you and I want to see ... there's not that many. And so when you get on a winner, you want to stay on it. And Scrubs is just something you can tell people you're on and be proud of it. Or I can. And it's in L.A., and with the new baby and with Max coming into puberty--which is a whole other thing--I want to be around. And Scrubs has facilitated that.

* EP: So it allows for a lot of time to be home?

* JCM: Absolutely. Look, when we're shooting, we work five days a week, and we shoot 14 hours a day. So when Max gets there, I'm tired, but who cares? We're going outdoors, we're playing baseball, we're playing golf, we're getting in the ocean, we're running the dogs. I'm kind of the camp counselor dad.

* EP: What is Max like? What are his hobbies, and what do you do together?

* JCM: Max loves pinball. It started out as a way to address some of the fine motor skills challenges we were dealing with. The reason that pinball addressed the fine motor is because I make him pay. So you have to put 50 cents in, and to put 50 cents in, I wanted him to have two quarters in one hand and take it and put it in. Also, tracking that ball down to where it's going to go and triangulating that ball with the flippers has been fantastic. So we have a big, old pinball machine. And I tested out as many as the guy had, and I found the one with the most spoken language because Max does well with repetition. So we play a lot of pinball.

Also, Max loves dogs. He has three dogs and one at his mom's house so he has four dogs. We play with the dogs nonstop down at the beach. And during the writer's strike, last October until March, I built a baseball field. So we play a lot of baseball, go to the driving range, and he loves bowling; he likes the chaos, noise, and all the visual stimulation at bowling alleys. And he likes that Wii ... loves that Wii.

* EP: What was your first reaction when you learned that your son had Down syndrome?

* JCM: My first reaction was that I wanted to know what I did wrong. Why I deserved this. It had nothing to do with the child. …

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