John C. McGinley on His ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ Role: “Unless you are going to respect what David put on the page … I just think you might as well do a different play”

john-c-mcginley-glengarryIt’s been almost three decades since John C. McGinley last appeared on a Broadway stage, and he certainly didn’t choose to return under the radar.  McGinley is starring in David Mamet‘s Glengarry Glen Ross as Dave Moss alongside Al Pacino, Bobby Cannavale and our friend here at Daily Actor, Jeremy Shamos. In a conversation with The Wall Street Journal, McGinley spoke about the great lengths he went to prepare for the role and why he hasn’t been on Broadway in so long.

In order to ensure that he was speaking the words as Mamet wrote them, McGinley hired a young actor solely to be his “text police” during his month of rehearsing.  He explains, “I told him what I want you to do is police the commas, the pauses, and the italics.  I don’t ever want you to tell me how you think this is going, because you have no idea. All I want you to do is just be the word police. I just became this Mamet zealot.”  He later adds, “[In the script] there are pauses and words italicized and capitalized and in bold font for where David wants you to do this, that, and the other thing. I took that to be like Shakespeare – unless you’re going to do Iambic pentameter you might as well do a different play. And in my brain I just figured unless you are going to respect what David put on the page — I mean the play only won a Pulitzer — I just think you might as well do a different play. You might as well dance the steps that he put down for you to dance. And I did, and I still do.”

McGinley returns to Broadway after a twenty-seven year absence, and he points to a disastrous production of Requiem for a Heavyweight that he appeared in that ran for only three performances and eight previews.  He reveals, “The last time I was here we opened on a Thursday and closed on Sunday. It was shattering. It was profoundly upsetting.  Enough to where I didn’t want to do it anymore. I turned down a bunch of Broadway shows because it was too emotionally expensive.”

Since he’s once again cast in the role of someone who isn’t on the level, McGinley admits that he is drawn to those types of characters — especially if they have a soft spot.  He explains, “Sometimes I get cast as kind of a tough guy with a heart of gold. That’s what I try to do. Because, if the character’s just a jackass all the time there’s nothing redeeming.”

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/alison-brie-glow.jpg
Alison Brie on ‘Glow’: “I had to audition many times”
"Of course when you're told that they don’t think your right for it, I was even more fired up to prove them wrong." - Alison Brie on Auditioning for 'Glow'
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/anson-mount-inhumans.jpg
Marvel’s Inhumans: How Anson Mount Developed Black Bolt’s Communication
"I tend to be more interested in a character’s weaknesses than I do their strengths and in a comic book/graphic novel space, it’s easy to lose sight of that, you know?" - Anson Mount
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Jodie-Whittaker.jpg
Jodie Whittaker on Becoming the First Female Doctor Who
"To be asked to play the ultimate character, to get to play pretend in the truest form: This is why I wanted to be an actor in the first place." - Jodie Whittaker
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/watch-sag-conversations-with-act.jpg
Watch: SAG Conversations with Actors from Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’
The cast speaks about filling the big shoes of the original cast and performing in perhaps the most popular American musical in decades.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/watch-sag-conversations-with-bil.jpg
Watch: SAG Conversations with Billy Bob Thornton of ‘Goliath’
Thornton talks about playing a character that some would say is fairly typical for him as well as his career as a whole.