For the third straight year, New York Comic-Con welcomed the cast of Stan Against Evil. Season 3 debuts on Halloween night on IFC and Stan Miller himself, John C. McGinley, was at NYCC Thursday along with co-star Janet Varney and show creator Dana Gould. McGinley is a veteran of the big and small screens with over 100 credits on IMDb, including blockbuster films like Se7en and Platoon and starring roles like Dr. Cox on Scrubs for nine seasons. Stan Miller is a curmudgeonly widower dealing with the loss of his wife, raising a “unique” daughter (Deborah Baker Jr.) and battling a demonic curse out to kill him in Willard’s Mill, New Hampshire. We got a chance to talk to the star Thursday afternoon about the upcoming season, his character, and career.
McGinley was asked about some of the comedy and whether the actors improv some of their jokes and he stressed how important learning the lines on the page are before you can start altering them. He was incredibly complementary to his talented co-stars like Deborah Baker Jr. and Nate Mooney, joking that they can “riff for hours discussing a teapot.” The eight episodes are shot in only 5 weeks and they’re only 21 minutes, 35 seconds each, so story and script are paramount.
Geeks of Doom: How did you balance the comedy and the drama this season for Stan? You had some lines of dialogue this season that caused me to do spit-takes, and then some genuinely touching moments with Claire (Susan Williams). How do you balance that as an actor?
John C. McGinley: I’ll tell you, every actor on this show can turn a joke. Dana ran The Simpsons writing room for ten years, and having done Scrubs, and Janet having done a million comedies, we can all turn a joke. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, but those chops we have. What we really want to do is dig into what makes these people tick. So when Dana puts that on the page, that’s meat. That’s a steak and we’re just drooling for him to write those scenes. So your question about balancing it, it’s not tricky. It’s kind of what we live for. Because we can turn the jokes now given me to meat. What makes Stan redeemable? Loss, Claire’s loss, the fact that he’s a wounded man, he’s damaged, and the fact he has the spine to try to reconcile it and not hide go hide in the woods licking his wounds. He still has a daughter to take care of, he still has a life to live. Wounded men, writers can write. Dr. Cox was a damaged guy. Yet somehow we found what makes him redeemable. Stan’s loss of CLaire and his refusal to accept her loss, I mean he travels through time to get her, this is a great anti-hero. He’ll do the right thing, but only in the bottom of the ninth with the bases jacked, he’ll do the right thing, but only so he doesn’t have to freakin’ hear about it. That’s a great hero. He just doesn’t want to be bothered. He doesn’t want to hear Denise dogging him. That’s a really damaged hero, it’s great.
Question: How did you prepare for your on-screen meeting with Claire, since this is first time we get to see the two of you together?
John C. McGinley: Because that loss is the one event in Stan’s life, in the context of this story, it’s what defines him and impacted him the most. And I John McGinley know loss. Those two get married. And then when you step in front of the camera and you bring that truth of Stan’s loss and John McGinley’s loss, it resonates.
McGinley, Janet Varney, and Dana Gould then went off to the Stan Against Evil panel in room 1A10 of Javits Center, where they greeted hundreds of fans with Halloween masks, and episode 3 of the new season! The episode was absolutely hilarious and features a kaiju-style fight between an old angry man in a gorilla suit and guest star David Koechner, who is possessed by a demonic moth. After the episode, the three answered questions from the moderator and several fans. Season 3 debuts on IFC on Halloween night at 10pm and seasons 1 – 2 are available to stream on Hulu.