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July 10, 2009

Mike McGill 7

Michael Patrick McGill will be making his second appearance on Monk this season in "Mr. Monk and the Voodoo Curse". His first appearance was in the season six episode "Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank" as the patrolman in the teaser who almost gives Natalie a parking ticket, unaware that she and the gang are trapped in the nearby bank. In his latest episode Mike will once again be representing law enforcement as Sgt. Steiner one of Stottlemeyer's detectives. It's the sort of role he plays often on TV series such as ER, Bones, Boston Legal, Entourage, Two and a Half Men and NYPD Blue. Wisconsin born Mike also has a background in theater and improv, so he seems to be ready for just about anything... including a bunch of questions.


How did you get the latest part on Monk? Did they remember you from your patrolman role in "Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank" and ask you back?

Luckily for me, my manager saw a casting notice for the sergeant role in "Mr. Monk And The Voodoo Curse" and called the casting director to refresh their memories about me. I was asked to come in and audition again and read in front of the casting directors, producers and the director of the episode. The casting office also puts your audition on tape for anyone who wasn't able to make the casting session to be able to look at later.

Why do you think they chose you for the role?

I think I just fill out the blue uniform the right way. A majority of the roles I book are police officers of some shape or form. I'm a "cop type," I look and sound like I cop to the casting community at large.

Where were your scenes shot?

In "Mr. Monk Goes To The Bank," we filmed on location at a bank near a shopping mall in Woodland Hills, California. For "Mr. Monk And The Voodoo Curse," all my stuff was shot on a soundstage on the Paramount Pictures studio lot in Hollywood. Paramount and Warner Bros. are my two favorite lots in L.A.. There's such a history to those lots and they're very scenic.

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Mike McGill in "Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank"

How long did it take to film your part for each episode?

Basically I was in one scene in each episode, and they were both shot in one shooting day, anywhere from between 4 and 6 hours each. The production has to film an entire episode in 8 shooting days, so they have to move fairly quickly. Just enough time to film the scene a few times at various angles and frame sizes, and then you're on to the next one.

What was your concept of the character? How did you approach it?

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Once again, Mike McGill in
"Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank"
I don't like to overthink it too much when it comes to preparing for a policeman. I keep getting cast as them, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? Basically, unless the script or my director gives me a specific direction, I like to play it as naturally as possible. Just a guy who does this for a living day in, day out, he knows the drill and he's fine with that. Veteran, blue collar guy.

For this latest episode, I kind of envisioned him as being somewhere in the middle of Capt. Stottlemeyer's professional policeman attitude and Lt. Disher's gung-ho, eager energy. Jason Gray-Stanford and I talked a little bit about how maybe my character and his character went through the police academy together and Disher got promoted at a faster rate than I did, because I was a little looser on procedures and protocol.

What do you think you may have brought to the role that wasn’t in the script?

Well, I like to think that each actor infuses some of his or her own specific personality to whatever role they're working on. I'm a little blue-collar, a little mischievous, and that's probably why I get cast in these types of roles. Having fun, not taking yourself too seriously, but still getting the job done. I like to riff and ad-lib things on-set sometimes, be spontaneous. There were a couple of physical bits and looks to each other that Jason and I worked out on the set based on our "history" together. They may or may not show up on screen, but they helped us in how we played the scene together.

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In the script there was a line where I was supposed to "make weird noises" to show I was skeptical of the voodoo element. One noise I came up with during rehearsal made Tony laugh and he told me to run with it. He realized it was the noise that sounded the funniest and worked best for the scene, so I'm willing to bet that's what will end up in the final version of the episode.

What’s the atmosphere on the set like? Relaxed? Tense?

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It was very relaxed. You can tell the cast and crew has been working together (and working well together) for many years. A well-oiled machine humming right along. A couple of the guys from the crew remembered me from the "Mr. Monk Goes To The Bank" episode, and I had also worked with the 1st A.D. Anton previously on an episode of Boston Legal.

Who was the director of the episode and what was he like to work with?

Andrei Belgrader was the director of "Mr. Monk and The Voodoo Curse." It looks as though he's directed a number of Monk episodes. He has a very relaxed, laid-back style. He threw a few tweaks in here and there, but for the most part let the actors and the cameramen do their thing. Once he was satisfied with what he had, we were on to the next set-up. There were no "take 25's" or anything like that.

What was the most memorable moment filming “Mr. Monk and the Voodoo Curse”?

I overheard Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford talking to one another on the set about how I was doing a solid job. I knew they didn't think I could hear them, but I did. It always feels rewarding to earn the respect of fellow actors, especially guys consistently working at the top of their game whose work I look up to. In an occupation where rejection is the norm, a little compliment goes a long way.

You and Tony Shalhoub are both from Wisconsin. Did you have a chance to discuss your common roots with him? Or maybe the Green Bay Packers?

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Absolutely! I was grateful to have the opportunity to work on the show the first time with Michael Coleman (another funny and talented actor from the Midwest who played my partner). I only regret I was not being able to work with Tony (or any of the series regulars for that matter) to talk about the Wisconsin connection. Fortunately when the producers brought me back, I was able to work with all of the series regulars. My Mom and her whole side of the family is from Green Bay, Wisconsin. I knew she and Tony wouldn't have been in school at the same time together, but I was curious to see if he went to the same high school...turns out they didn't. I'm from Appleton, about 45 minutes south of Green Bay. We discussed Kroll's Diner in Green Bay (where my Mom worked in high school) and their fine regional delicacies, the Butterburger and french-fried cheese curds. Tasty stuff, good for the soul if not the heart! And of course, a little bit about The Green Bay Packers and the best place to watch an NFL football game, Lambeau Field!

Did you watch Monk before you got the first role?

I've seen a number of episodes over the past several years, usually to support my fellow actor friends who had guest-starring roles. However, not to the extent of a super-fan like Teresa Murray! I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of the series, but that's what The Monk Fun Page is here for, right? I've enjoyed it the times I have seen it and it's one of my brother and his family's favorite shows. They have all of the seasons on DVD. One of my old bosses who I still keep in touch with watches it religiously and is excited for my appearances.

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How did you get into acting?

The short and sweet answer to that is my Dad took me to the local Drive-In Theatre years ago to see my first movie, the original Star Wars. I think I was hooked immediately and forever more. I'm lucky in that I've always known what I wanted to do from a young age.

What do you enjoy most about acting?

I like the idea that I'm not stuck in an office cubicle or a warehouse doing the same thing over and over, that there's some variety in my occupation (says the guy who plays a cop 9 times out of 10!). Basically I get paid to play, like I did when I was a little boy. I'm a big, overgrown kid who gets to pretend and exercise my imagination fully. When I'm on the set or the stage and a scene is really cooking with your fellow actors, the day just flies right by...everybody's in "the zone." I love it!

What has been your best acting experience so far?

There's been a lot of great ones so far. I worked on a couple episodes of The Office, that was a blast. I had a guest spot on an episode of NCIS a couple of years ago that was really satisfying... Mark Harmon's the nicest guy in showbiz. I worked on a Hallmark Channel Western called Desolation Canyon...I got to shoot a gun, ride a horse, channel my inner cowboy. My favorite is probably still NYPD Blue. I was a huge fan of the show and it was one of my earlier acting jobs out in L.A.. Dennis Franz is kind of like Tony Shalhoub in that he deservedly wins Emmy awards year after year for his portrayal of an iconic television character, in this case Detective Andy Sipowicz. I was just day-playing a small uniformed policeman role, nothing major. At the end of the day he shook my hand and said, "You did a good job today," and it made my year. Hell, it made my decade!

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What’s the most fun you’ve ever had?

As much fun as I have working in all aspects and mediums of acting, my favorite would still have to be sketch comedy live on stage. I went through The Groundlings program in L.A. for the better part of this past decade, and it was a great experience. I met some really talented, funny comedians in those classes and workshops. You'd just come out of classes and shows with a sore stomach from laughing so much and so hard. Writing sketches is undoubtedly hard work, but nothing compares to the thrill of putting up original material you created onstage and having it kill and connect with the audience. The collective laugh of the crowd ripples over you in an instant, providing you an immediate and indescribable moment of satisfaction. It's a highly addictive rush.
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Professionally speaking, what’s the one thing you’d most like to do that you haven’t done yet?

I'm always eager to do more. Series regular on a T.V. show would be a nice start....

I REALLY wanted to be on my favorite show of all-time The Shield in some way, shape or form. Unfortunately, the series ended its run before I was able to land a part. I can still hold out hope for 24. As much success as I've had on the TV side of things, I wouldn't mind more opportunities for roles on the feature film side of things. I'm also trying to kick-start the voice-over area of my acting career.

What’s next on your agenda?

I just wrapped up performing in a play in L.A. I was doing a couple of characters in Cole Porter's musical comedy Red, Hot & Blue!. I recently filmed parts in Steven Bochco's TNT series Raising The Bar, and Sons of Anarchy on FX that will be airing later this fall. I'm continuing to take commercial and animation voice-over classes in L.A. to help learn the tricks of the trade. Hopefully more auditions and bookings, more opportunities to play pretend! Oh, and last, but certainly not least, watching and cheering on the 2009 The Green Bay Packers!!

Mike's Website

Michael Patrick McGill at the IMDB

Demo Reel

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