Eating nails sounds like something John C. McGinley’s unhinged “Stan” just might do in madcap horror-comedy Stan Against Evil, which debuts on IFC Nov. 2. In fact, the actor says that’s what he’d do for IFC after the commitment it showed to the veteran actor and producer.
See, McGinley and his family mates—brothers, cousin, his father before he passed away—take an annual pilgrimage to Ireland for golf and Guinness. “We’ll have a few beers and talk about how great we used to be,” says McGinley, formerly of Scrubs.
The crew started going in 2000, and the trip became that much more meaningful a year later, when McGinley’s brother narrowly escaped from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. The fateful day impacted the family—and the family vacation. “When we said we’d do something as a family, we are fricking well going to do it,” he says.
The problem was, the trip stood in direct conflict to Stan Against Evil production. McGinley asked about moving it back a few weeks. “This was not a play for a bigger trailer or more money,” he quips. “I was not being a tough guy.”
When the network and studio said they would accommodate McGinley’s request, it inspired an uncommon level of loyalty. “I’ll eat nails for you,” he says. “I’ll run through drywall for you.”
Created by Dana Gould, Stan Against Evil is a weird show, a mix of comedy and horror along the lines of Ash vs. Evil Dead on Starz. McGinley plays a loopy former sheriff in a small New England town infested with witches and sundry undead creatures. He says An American Werewolf in London was the model for striking the right mix of comedy and horror. “We were obsessed with tone,” he says. “If it’s too funny, you’ve lost it. If it’s too scary, you step on the jokes. Finding a way to straddle the two tones became our obsession—and we nailed it.”
Over on WGN America, Salem, whose season three debuts Nov. 2 as well, is also focused on witches in a small New England town and on striking just the right tone. Creator Brannon Braga is hoping for five seasons total. “I love the show,” he says. “I love the horror, I love the romance, I love the strange commingling of both.”
Visitors of New York Comic-Con got a glimpse of the new season of Salem—and of Stan Against Evil, for that matter. “You hold your breath—you don’t know how it will be received,” McGinley says.
The 1,600 or so on hand for a Stan screening were laughing to the point where they were interrupting the next joke, says McGinley. “It’s a rich man’s problem,” he concedes. “It beats crickets, baby!”