Christopher McDonald Must Be a Lucky Guy
by Jay S. Jacobs
You think you’ve got Christopher McDonald all worked out, don’t you? Smart, handsome, charming, powerful guy with a massive dark side.
After all, McDonald has been visiting your cineplexes and your TV screens for over two decades now. He’s played a whole slew of memorably sketchy supporting characters, like Geena Davis’ abusive husband in Thelma & Louise, a pompous golf pro in Happy Gilmore, a slimy self-help guru in Requiem for a Dream and a corrupt politician in Boardwalk Empire.
However, if you think that’s what Christopher McDonald is all about, you’re only seeing part of the picture.
“I read all those things on IMDB,” McDonald good-naturedly told me recently while resting up for his nightly performance in the hit Broadway drama Lucky Guy with Tom Hanks. “People think I’m a jerk. But I’m not. I’m actually a decent guy. I’m a family man.”
It’s acting people. And Christopher McDonald is damned good at his craft. So good that sometimes people don’t quite buy that a guy who can play such unlikable people on screen could actually be an old softie.
“I don’t put a lot of stock in what people say.” McDonald continued. “Everyone has their opinions. But you read them, you hear about them. You go well, that’s too bad that’s the peoples’ impression. People’s impression of Tom Hanks is he’s the nicest guy in the world and that happens to be true. He is the nicest guy in the world. But he’s got an edge. Now people are finding out when I come out of the stage door every night that I’m a great guy. I’ll sign autographs. I’ll take pictures. Everybody’s got a phone now with a camera in it. It takes a lot to do that and I don’t mind it at all. A lot of the comments that I read [show] that people think I must be a real jerk and it’s just the opposite. I just play a lot of those characters because every movie needs one.”
Hmmm… playing a role. Who knew? And what do you know, McDonald’s latest high-profile role is one of the nicer ones.
McDonald is currently playing legendary Manhattan litigator Eddie Hayes in Lucky Guy, the late Nora Ephron’s final play – a valentine to final days of tabloid journalism. The play is one of the biggest hits of the theatrical season and the favorite to win the Tony for Best Play of the Year. A true ensemble piece, McDonald is sharing the stage with not only movie star Hanks, but also such talented actors as Courtney B. Vance, Peter Scolari, Maura Tierney and Peter Gerety.
“I’m having a complete blast doing this thing,” McDonald said. “I’m a grateful fellow, I’ll tell you. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.”