John C. McGinley

John C. McGinley Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: August 3, 1959

Age: 64 years old

Birth Place: New York, New York

A charismatic, high-energy supporting actor and occasional lead in countless features, John C. McGinley was a familiar face to audiences thanks to films like "Platoon" (1986"), "Wall Street" (1987), the TV movie "Intensity" (Fox, 1997) and "Any Given Sunday" (1999). However, his most memorable character was that of Dr. Perry Cox, the tough-as-nails Chief of Medicine on "Scrubs" (NBC/ABC, 2001-2010). The role, along with a memorable performance in the cult favorite "Office Space" (1999) elevated McGinley from character actor to comic standout, a title he wielded effectively in "Wild Hogs" (2007) and "Are We Done Yet?" (2007). A versatile and immensely likable screen presence, he was a favorite among silver and small screen viewers for over two decades.

Born John Christopher McGinley on Aug. 3, 1959, he was one of five children by Greenwich Village-based stockbroker Gerald McGinley, and his wife, Patricia, a schoolteacher. Raised in Milburn, NJ, he was involved in sports at Milburn High School, but discovered acting while a student at Syracuse University. His newfound interest prompted a move to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, which preceded stage roles both on and off-Broadway. His television debut arrived with a two-year stint on the daytime soap "Another World" (NBC, 1964-1999) from 1985 to 1986, which was followed soon after by his screen debut in "Sweet Liberty" (1986) starring Alan Alda.

McGinley's big break came while serving as understudy to John Turturro in the Circle-in-the-Square production of John Patrick Shanley's "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea." A casting agent for writer-director Oliver Stone caught McGinley's performance and brought him in to read for Stone's next film project, an autobiographical piece based on his wartime experiences in Vietnam called "Platoon" (1987). McGinley was cast as Red O'Neill, a cowardly sergeant who survives the film's climatic assault by hiding beneath the bodies of dead North Vietnamese soldiers. The Oscar-winning film helped to establish McGinley's screen image as a brusque, fast-talking but morally questionable authority figure, and was the first of several subsequent films McGinley made with Stone. He played Charlie Sheen's stockbroker pal in "Wall Street" (1987), then served as DJ for kamikaze radio host Eric Bogosian in "Talk Radio" (1988) before essaying bit roles in "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989) and "Nixon" (1995). In 1999, he played Jack Rose, an abrasive TV sports commentator based on real-life radio personality Jim Rome, in Stone's football drama "Any Given Sunday."

Between assignments for Stone, McGinley was establishing himself as a busy and versatile character actor in both films and on television. On occasion, he was asked to play sympathetic parts, like the fictional Captain Richard Schoenfield, friend and roommate to Manhattan Project scientist Michael Merriman (McGinley's real-life friend, John Cusack) in "Fat Man and Little Boy" (1989), but with his machine gun delivery and boiling-point energy, he was best utilized as unyielding hardcases, like his FBI agent in the cult favorite "Point Break" (1991), the diabolical corporate chief in "Highlander 2: The Quickening" (1991), or one of rogue soldier Ed Harris' team in summer hit "The Rock" (1996). On occasion, he was called in to lend credibility to bit parts, like the SWAT team leader who aids Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in "Se7en" (1995).

His natural charisma made him an ideal choice for comedy, but his early efforts in this genre - best summed up by the dreadful film version of "Car 54, Where Are You?" (1994), which cast him as the uptight Officer Muldoon, originally played by Fred Gwynne in the TV series (NBC, 1961-63) - were beneath his talents. During this period, McGinley also earned his sole screenwriting credit to date with "Suffering Bastards" (1989), a lightweight, little-seen comedy about two brothers (McGinley and Eric Bogosian) who attempt to win back their mother's nightclub. In the early '90s, he shared producer credits on several independent films, including the romantic comedy "Watch It" (1993) and the erotic drama "Sex and the Other Woman" (1995).

McGinley's persistence and ubiquity began to pay off at the tail end of the 1990s with more substantial roles that showed the broad range of his talents. The first of these was the TV-movie "Intensity" (Fox, 1997), which cast him as a relentless serial killer in pursuit of Molly Parker's troubled heroine. McGinley received the lion's share of the praise for the film for his startling portrayal of the brilliant but savage murderer. He then switched gears to give a hilarious performance as a clueless business consultant who is utterly charmed by Ron Livingston's refusal to do his job in the cult favorite "Office Space" (1999). Both helped to further familiarize audiences with McGinley and bring him out of the realm of a face without a name - the traditional pitfall of the character actor.

In 2001, McGinley received the role that gave him the most consistent praise and greatest canvas for his abilities - that of the misanthropic Dr. Perry Ulysses Cox on "Scrubs." A brilliant doctor and tireless champion for the sick, Cox was also a dyed-in-the-wool misanthrope who terrorized his staff through intimidation - his habit of addressing Zach Braff's John Dorian with various women's name was a gag borrowed from his friendship with John Cusack - and dizzying rants that reduced recipients to quivering masses. Beneath his thorny exterior, Cox was a wounded soul, the product of a childhood marked by alcoholism, which in turn plagued his own adult life; despite this, he enjoyed love-hate relationships with many of the show's main characters, including Dorian, who viewed him as a mentor, Judy Reyes' Carla - the only person who saw through his prickly façade - and his ex-wife Jordan, with whom he finally reunited in the series' finale. The only other actor to appear throughout the series' entire nine-year run, McGinley received both a Television Critics Award and Golden Satellite Award nomination for his work on "Scrubs," but more importantly, received the boost his career needed to elevate him into more prominent roles.

McGinley's knack for comic portrayals made him a favored go-to for outrageous characters in several major films. In the Disney comedy "Wild Hogs" (2007), he played a gay highway patrolman who joined the film's leads - John Travolta, Tim Allen, William H. Macy and Martin Lawrence - for a skinny dip, while in "Are We Done Yet?" (2007), he was the vain, eccentric jack of all trades who demolishes Ice Cube's new house between assignments of baby whispering and property inspection. In both cases, McGinley's performance was singled out by critics as among the high points of both films. He also launched a prolific second career as a voiceover artist for animated TV series and features, including "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" (2009) as the villainous cyborg Metallo; the venerable hero the Atom on "Justice League Unlimited" (Cartoon Network, 2004-06); and on the PBS series "WordGirl" (2007- ) as the Whammer, who incorrectly adds the word "wham!" to sentences.

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News aboutJohn C. McGinley