John C. McGinley is a veteran actor of the silver screen and the small screen. From Platoon to Scrubs to his current series on IFC, Stan Against Evil, he has been a presence for several different generations. In real life, he is a force of nature. Passionate, outspoken and enthusiastic, it was a pleasure to sit down and chat with him about the season finale of Stan for That’s My Entertainment.
TME: In Stan Against Evil season two, everyone’s performances were terrific. I don’t think fans will be prepared for the finale.
JCM: I am so overwhelmed by the way episodes seven and eight came together. It took Dana and I 14 episodes and two years to yield the most stunning hour of programming that IFC has ever produced. This is epic! Obviously, I am really proud of it.
The Dynamic Duo
TME: Stan and Evie have grown very fond of each other. I know when Janet spoke to us she compared the relationship to a father and daughter-type situation.
JCM: I agree. Dana has always said that Evie is the daughter Stan never had. Now, that’s not to disparage Deborah’s character at all. She’s the Jonathan Winters of a generation. She’s a genius improvisational actor. We have tailored her role to accentuate those strengths.
Janet…at first, you…almost want to say she is the son he never had but that’s not it at all. She’s the daughter he never had. That’s so great! It’s not like he has an ax to grind or there is something inadequate about Denise. It’s just that Evie is such a bad ass. She’s the female Harrison Ford.
I am so overwhelmingly fond of both of these actors as we’ve tailored their arcs to their strengths. Both of them have just exploded.
TME: What is it about Evie that Stan has grown attached to and how do you think her character feels about Stan?
JCM: I don’t know the answer to the second question. But I will tell you this, I think when Dana constructed Stan to make him such an interesting anti-hero, that what compels Stan to do the right thing at the last second is ass backwards. It’s beyond delicious!
He’ll have to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing because he doesn’t want to hear about it if he doesn’t do it! Which is the best thing ever!
That is what compels you? Because you don’t want to hear people whining and complaining that you didn’t do the right thing? That’s great! It’s the opposite of Lancelot. It’s the opposite of any hero scenario, ever!
He just doesn’t want to hear about it. So, okay. We’ll go do the right thing and that’s what compels him. It’s great. It’s so subversive and fantastic.
TME: It is a very human response because not everyone wants to be a hero.
JCM: Stan has no interest! He lost his wife! That’s all he ever talks about. He lost his job. All he wants to do is watch the History Channel and he can’t even do that because Hitler comes on. Just no one will leave him alone and when he’s left alone there is a couple hundred witches that want to kill him! Everything has gone completely sideways. It’s fantastic. It’s chaos.
TME: Were you aware that the fans are calling both you and Janet the Dynamic Duo because of your wonderful chemistry?
JMC: No, it makes me happy! I hero worship Janet. She knows that. We wove a kind of screwball comedy tone into season two and Janet can do it in her sleep. Janet does a one woman show in episode eight. She should be nominated for an Emmy. She is just unbelievable!
TME: How do you think the fans are going to respond to the finale?
JCM: Dana wrote this amazing arc for Stan this year. I’m always about finding the uber verb. Stan’s verb this year was to “get whole.” The only way he could “get whole” was to get Claire, his wife.
And she’s dead! That is the most ridiculous uber-objective but he’s undeterred. He does the right thing. He gets Evie back and then armed with that technology and a little bit of knowledge for Stan can be dangerous, he thinks if I can get Evie, I can get Claire.
It proved to be this overwhelmingly emotional arc for Stan. Whether it’s begging on his knees in front of Eccles’ daughter in the second episode of the year, which is absolutely the first time he’s ever been on his knees in his life, begging this child to take that note and send it back, and that kind of set us off.
Shooting it that night, it felt like we were playing the real stakes. If you, Stan are going to “get whole” and if the way you are going to do this is if you get Claire then okay, have at it!
TME: You have some very emotional moments this season. How do you as an actor prepare for those taxing scenes? They can be very draining.
JCM: Most everything for me goes back to my son, Max. I borrow from Max’s sensibilities and my relationship with him. I kind of tentacle out from there. When I talk to other special needs parents and caregivers and when I also advocate for our community, everything is fed by that love.
It’s this rich, rich deposit that I can draw from. Emotionally it is immediately available to me. I don’t have to dig very far. It’s right below the surface. All of my Max love is immediately available to me. I guess I triangulate it to serve moments like in Stan.
Spread the Word to End the Word
TME: We know you are a steadfast advocate for those with intellectual disabilities, especially Down Syndrome. You are also a board member of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. Over the years, you have written a few wonderful articles about the Spread the Word to end the R word campaign. Can you take a minute to talk to us about why the R word is so hurtful to those who may not understand?
JCM: The only way to do it in a work environment is to ask somebody if there is not a better way to put that. That’s the socially acceptable way and people will say but what?
And you say you just used the word “retard” to describe the party over the weekend. Then they say oh and you say, my cousin Steve was born with Down Syndrome and that’s really offensive to me. Then all of a sudden, you’re having a conversation. I wish I could do that more often.
Stan Has Something to Say
TME: Do you have a message for the Stan Against Evil Fans out there? They are a passionate group that really believes in the show and are
doing all they can for a season three. If you could do it in Stan’s voice, that would be really sweet!
JCM: Well, I know what he would say. “It’s in the bag!”
Catch the season finale of Stan Against Evil on IFC, Wednesday, November 22 at 10 p.m. Eastern 7 p.m. Pacific.
If you love the show tweet #KeepStanKilling #ShovelsUpForSeason3 to @IFC and @stanagainstevil on twitter.
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Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy
Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.
The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.
I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.
Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?
Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!
Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.
So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.
The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.
Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.
First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.
Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.
Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.
Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.
To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!