As Halloween approaches, it seems only fitting that the second season of John. C. McGinley’s series Stan Against Evil starts back up on November 1st. After all, there probably isn’t a better time to explore a disgraced former sheriff named Stan (John C. McGinley) who joins his replacement to battle monsters in their small New England town.
McGinley is a familiar face on big and small screens alike, from his first roles in movies like Platoon, stealing scenes every week as Dr. Cox on Scrubs, or treading the Broadway boards in the 2013 revival of Glengarry Glen Ross. So before the second season starts, or you go to watch the first season, here is a quick chat with McGinley about everything from playing Stan, being an actor turned producer, and what being on Broadway was like for him.
What’s your favorite thing about playing Stan?
Just he’s the least full of shit person I’ve ever met. Whereas Dr. Cox is a little full of himself and full of shit, Stan’s not. Stan’s a damaged guy. He’s ruined. His wife just died. He got fired from his job of 27 years. The two things that grounded him on the planet are gone and so he’s injured. It’s fun to explore injured men, for me.
This character is a judgmental and cranky guy who finds himself in a world that now has monsters and witches in it. But there are also small moments where he comes home and he reaches for his wife’s keys that really seem to ground the show, are those scripted or improvised at the time?
Everybody kept saying, “It’s too sad in the first act.” I’m like, “No, you’re wrong. It’s the most important thing in the whole show. It’ll ground …”
Look, the only reason we forgive Archie Bunker and his quasi racism and his sexism is because of Edith, because Edith’s love validates Archie. And Stan needs … His forgiveness is because A, he’s injured and B, he loves his wife more than oxygen. I said, “He has to reach for that thing. She’s gone. There’s an absence. This is a wounded guy.”
Her missing key chain, to me … To me it anchored the whole season. They are absolutely written in the script.
It’s shaping moments like these that drove McGinely to become a producer and why being both and actor and a producer on Stan Against Evil, has proven helpful.
But in post-production you have to come up with two or three things that we’re not going to compromise on. Maybe we’ll compromise on … the show is 21 minutes and 35 second, you got to chop the walk a little. But there’s a couple of things you got to just hold on to.
That’s why I insisted on being one of the producers on this just because I had a post-production company in New York in the Pearl Building for about 10 years. I’ve produced five movies and I want to be able to participate in post and in shaping the scripts. During this thing I’m just going to be the actor but in pre-game and in post you want me involved because I’m going to make your life easier.
I think the number one thing I can do for the actors on the set is get the scripts, eight scripts in five weeks, a month ahead of time. I can encourage Dana (Gould, the creator) to wrap things up a little bit and give the actors a chance at consuming all these words so that they can own them. So we get down to Georgia we don’t have to pull a rabbit out of a hat every waking second of everyday. That’s what I can do the most for the actors is I can get them the texts early.
How was it to be in the 2013 revival of Glengarry Glen Ross in 2013? What was that experience like?
I did Requiem for a Heavyweight 25 years earlier with John Lithgow and Davie Proval and almost all the Italian-American actors who go on to populate The Sopranos. We opened on a Thursday and closed on a Saturday. Broke my heart and so when I got the call to go do Glengarry with Al [Pacino] and Bobby [Canavale] and all these great actors it felt like as stone cold a lock as I’ve ever heard.
Glengarry’s the greatest play written for men in our lifetime. I functioned on fear for the first month of rehearsal so I set up this theater boot camp in Malibu and I had my coach come out and I hired this kid from Pepperdine to just come and run lines. I told him, “I don’t want your input.” I gave him $20 dollars an hour. For three hours a day he would run the lines. I got a metronome and we ran it at different paces. I did everything that I could that I thought might go wrong except for these things in the theater. I didn’t anticipate those and those were just disconcerting but it was the greatest experience of my life by far. Kids aside!
Set your DVR’s because Stan Against Evil Season 2 comes back to your television November 1st on IFC. For more information go to www.ifc.com
Photo: John C. McGinley, Janet Varney – Photo Credit: Kim Simms/IFC