You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Freshman Favorites: John C. McGinley

What’s the difference between playing supporting roles in the movies and a supporting role on a hit network comedy? For one thing, according to John C. McGinley, you can’t beat the visibility of television.

“It’s unbelievable,” says McGinley, who, after years of being best known for secondary roles in “Platoon,” “Any Given Sunday” and several other Oliver Stone movies, survived five auditions to land the part of Dr. Cox on NBC’s “Scrubs.” “About 13 million people are turning on the tube every Tuesday,” he says, “and that number is growing. It’s extraordinary.”

“Scrubs'” audience size — which has been close enough to that of “Frasier,” its lead-in, to justify a move to NBC’s all-important Thursday night lineup in the fall — isn’t the only thing about the stylized comedy that excites McGinley. He sees his character, a gruff M.D. with a good heart, as following Lou Grant and Louie De Palma in the golden lineage of television’s great curmudgeonly bosses.

“Those guys kind of taught or mentored with a spoonful of dirt and then a cup of sugar, and that appeals to me,” says McGinley, father of a young son with Down syndrome “When my son was born with special needs, I lost interest in playing straight-up bad guys. They didn’t resonate for me. So the fact that Cox is a teacher/mentor/baby sitter/father figure to some of these kids on the show is complex and damaged and twice as interesting.”

Dr. Cox’s barbs have found their mark with audiences and critics, and McGinley is quick to credit “Scrubs'” creator and executive producer, Bill Lawrence, and the show’s hard-working writing staff.

“They write these scripts, and rewrite them and rewrite them, and every rewrite is better than the last one so you don’t have a foot to stand on about complaining,” he says. “It’s all very glib and there’s a sarcasm that’s between the words. You should be so lucky to get these pages.”

More TV

  • LAST MAN STANDING: 150'th Episode: L-R:

    'Last Man Standing' Renewed at Fox

    “Last Man Standing” has been renewed at Fox, Variety has learned. This is the second season of the family multicamera comedy that will air on Fox, but the eighth season overall. (Its first six years were on ABC before the Alphabet canceled the series. Fox picked it up a year later.) “‘Last Man Standing’ roared [...]

  • Lauren Corrao

    Freeform Taps Lauren Corrao to Replace Karey Burke as Original Programming Head

    Lauren Corrao has been named executive vice president of original programming and development for Freeform. Corrao takes over the role from Karey Burke, who was named the head of ABC Entertainment in November following the departure of Channing Dungey. Corrao will report directly to Freeform president Tom Ascheim. In her new position, Corrao will oversee [...]

  • Allison Mack Sex Cult

    HBO in Production on NXIVM Sex Cult Documentary Series

    HBO Documentary Films is currently in production on a documentary series exploring the NXIVM sex cult case, which implicated former “Smallville” actress Allison Mack among others. The series, which is to be directed by “The Square” and “Control Room” helmers Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, will follow a range of people who joined the NXIVM [...]

  • Barry Killing Eve Pose

    'Barry,' 'Killing Eve,' 'Pose' Among 2019 Peabody Winners (EXCLUSIVE)

    “The Americans,” “Barry,” “The End of the F***ing World,” “The Good Place,” “Hannah Gadsby: Nanette,” “Killing Eve,” “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” “Pose” and “Random Acts of Flyness” have been named the entertainment winners at this year’s Peabody Awards, Variety has learned exclusively. Additionally, “Sesame Street” has been named the winner of the Institutional Award [...]

  • Les Miserables BBC

    BBC's 'Les Miserables' Recreates the Dark World of Victor Hugo's Novel

    Director Tom Shankland didn’t want his “Les Miserables” to be anything like the stage-musical version of Victor Hugo’s sweeping historical novel, nor like the 2012 Tom Hooper feature-film musical.  For the BBC limited series — a drama starring Olivia Colman, Lily Collins, David Oyelowo and Dominic West, which aired the first of its six episodes in [...]

  • PBS, Walter Presents Air Belgian Crime

    PBS, Walter Presents to Air Belgian Crime Drama 'Professor T' Nationwide (EXCLUSIVE)

    PBS Distribution and Walter Presents are set to bring Belgian crime drama “Professor T” to audiences across the U.S. “Professor T” will be the second international title distributed under the Walter’s Choice banner, the partnership between PBS Distribution, the home video arm of PBS, and streaming service Walter Presents, which brings non-English language drama to [...]

  • Wendy Williams' Husband Kevin Hunter Will

    Kevin Hunter Out as Executive Producer on 'The Wendy Williams Show'

    Kevin Hunter is out as an executive producer of “The Wendy Williams Show” on the heels of Williams’ announcement that she plans to file for divorce from her husband of 22 years. “Kevin Hunter is no longer an executive producer on ‘The Wendy Williams Show,’ ” said a spokesperson for the daytime talk show, produced [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content