John C. McGinley: “If you can figure out where you fit into any particular story, you’ll be okay”


john-c-mcginley-42Some actors shrug off a label like “character actor” as something that somewhat minimizes their contribution to a production.  However, veteran actor John C. McGinley is not one of those actors.  In an interview with The Globe and Mail about his role in 42, McGinley speaks about being a called a character actor and how his strict preparation for a role is similar to how he thinks one should approach one’s life.

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On accepting that “character actor” label, the Scrubs and Office Space star says, “I have no issue with being a character actor.  If you’ve been around enough that people are able to segregate you into that category, it means you’re working. So that’s good!”

Part of the reason why McGinley is constantly working is because of the preparation he puts into each performance.  I previously covered McGinley’s extensive personal rehearsals for his recent run on Broadway in Glengarry Glen Ross.  When it comes to his role as Brooklyn Dodger announcer Red Barber in 42, McGinley claims he “obsessively compulsively” listened to recordings of Barber.  He explains, “Every syllable I say is something Red said.  Brooklyn Dodger fans aren’t fans, they’re fanatics, so we had to rise to that level. And it’s important to me that Brian [Helgeland, writer/director] let me do that. Every actor just wants to feel like they’re collaborating. When a director empowers you with that sense, it makes you want to run through a wall for the guy.”

In fact, McGinley’s advice for both acting and life is not unlike the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.  He says, “If you can figure out where you fit into any particular story, you’ll be okay.  When you’re not quite sure where you fit in, you try to be too many parts of the story. You gild the lily. I see it all the time. Whereas if you take time early on to figure out where you fit in, you’ll be better for it. And happier.”

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