The corrupt politician is a trope used often by cop shows. While the department in question is the authority figure throughout the series, introducing an antagonist who holds more authority than the police brings a level of danger and precariousness the criminals don’t often have. This was the attempt with "Chicago P.D." Season 6 villain Brian Kelton.
Kelton began as a police officer, eventually rising to the position of Chicago Police Department Superintendent. Years before, when he was a district commander, a serial killer ravaged his district. The rising crime rate was something that could devastate his career ambitions to sit in the mayor’s office. To keep his crime stats down, he routinely turned away the FBI and killed any investigations into the murders.
Much of Kelton was discovered off-screen, contrasting the Season 5 villain. This added an aura of mystery behind who the villain was. Eventually, after winning his bid for the mayor’s office, he was murdered by his deputy superintendent. His murder left many questions about what would happen going into Season 7. But who plays Brian Kelton, and where have you seen him before?
John C. McGinley played Marv in Wall Street
Do stockbrokers have friends? If they do, they would be much like Marv, the character played by "Chicago P.D." villain John C. McGinley. The sometimes friend, sometimes foe is the perfect parallel to the 1987 Oliver Stone film that put the corrupt nature of the financial institutions on display, "Wall Street."
"Wall Street" follows Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) as he assists Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) with insider trading until his conscience gets the better of him. Marv sits next to him on the trading floor and is put off that Fox would keep him out of his extensive financial gains until the end when Fox makes it up to him. He brought a lightness and sarcasm (something McGinley does well throughout his career) to a movie wrought with scenes destroying all hope for the goodness of humanity.
When retelling for the Chicago Tribune the moment he first spoke to Oliver Stone, he said, "Oliver Stone calls up and says, ‘Do you want to do ‘Wall Street’?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’d love to! But I’m doing a play, so you guys have to wrap me each night in time. I have to make a ‘half-hour’ (30 minutes before curtain) because I like to do a vocal warm-up and other stuff." While impersonating Stone, he went on to explain that the director excitedly went out of his way to make sure he made his half-hour. "And then he hangs up on me, and I’m like, ‘Great, so he’s out of his mind," McGinley concluded.
He was Keanu Reeves’ supervising agent in Point Break
The 1991 surf’s-up, bank robbing, skydiving, crime thriller (yeah, that’s a thing) "Point Break" was one of the first times audiences got to see Keanu Reeves deliver some of his many skills in an action movie. It was also a time when you got to see John C. McGinley flex his penchant for overbearing upper management style.
McGinley played Ben Harp, the supervisory special agent for the FBI Bank Robbery Division in Los Angeles. He assigns Johnny Utah (Reeves) to partner with Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey) to find the bank robbery team known as the Ex-Presidents. The robbers are precise but seem to only strike in the summer when California’s waves are the best. Utah goes undercover as a surfer, and it leads to a stellar moment where Harp gets to chew him a new one. You can watch him express his displeasure at the agents here.
In an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, McGinley revealed his favorite line from "Point Break" — "You know nothing. You know less than nothing. If you knew that you knew nothing, that would be something. But you don’t." We would have to agree after watching him deliver that line no less than a dozen times in rewatches. Though on the other hand, every scene with Ben Harp facing off against his rebellious underlings provides something you will quote for the rest of your life.
He was one of the two Bobs on Office Space
We’re going to need you to think hard about where you saw this guy in "Office Space." The workplace comedy that showcased what most of us in an office feel every day became a cult comedy like no other at the end of the century, launching the careers of more than just one actor. John C. McGinley joined the cast as a business consultant, one of the "Bobs."
McGinley’s Bob Slydell found himself listening to Peter (Ron Livingston) on ways to better the office. The twist? Peter didn’t care if he got fired, and he gave them the bluntest, sometimes worst, business advice he could muster. While it was another opportunity for McGinley to flex his ability to play an overbearing management type, he relished the opportunity to add a comedy to his resume.
The actor sat down with BroBible to talk about the role. "Up to that time, all I’d done was serious movies," the actor said. "From Platoon all the way to Point Break. Everything was ‘Mr. Screamy Meanie Serious Guy.’ And then in this, I get to play all these comedy notes, which I had in my back pocket, but nobody had let me use them yet. McGinley explained that he felt appearing in a comedy film would have been a great showcase for his skills. He would indeed get to showcase those comedic skills even more in what is arguably his most recognizable TV role to date.
He molded young doctors as Dr. Cox on Scrubs
Few would argue that John C. McGinley’s most prominent role in his career is Dr. Cox, the monologuing doctor with a hard exterior on the hilarious sitcom "Scrubs." The series following medical residents through their trials and tribulations in the field is amplified by the unorthodox mentoring style of McGinley’s Dr. Cox. But How did he pull off such a harsh character with a hidden heart of gold?
It turns out he did it with sweet and genuine undertones. In an interview with Uproxx, he explained his approach to the role. "I decided underneath it all, so it’s not too drippy, that in every episode, there had to be one spot where I, John (not Dr. Cox) got to say ‘I love you’ to Max," he said, referring to his real-life son who was born with Down syndrome.
McGinley also told Uproxx that he sees the camera as something that can detect whether an actor’s being genuine or not. "So when an actor actually brings a mission statement that demands he find a place somewhere just underneath the text to say I love you to a kid who was just born with challenges, that pops," he continued. "The camera goes, ‘It’s his truth!’" If you don’t love him a little more, you don’t have a heart.
He stole the screen on Brooklyn Nine-Nine
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is a police procedural unlike any other. It takes a more light-hearted and comedic route to police work, following Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg), Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), and a slew of other characters working out of the NYPD’s 99th District House.
McGinley joined the cast in the 8th and final season as Frank O’Sullivan, the head of the patrolman’s union. While he is mainly thwarting Peralta and Rosa Diaz’s (Stephanie Beatriz) attempts to get justice for those wronged by the police, he mostly just looks out for the best interests of the cops under his charge. When asked about the part in an interview with The A.V. Club, he said, "I called back [series co-creator and executive producer] Dan Goor, who I think is the Norman Lear of his generation, and I told him nothing cries the character of Frank more than ‘Archie Bunker meets Yosemite Sam.’ It was too delicious of a character to pass up."
Looking back at his career, whether he is playing a friend or foe, McGinley simply embodies different personas of societal fathers. He is sometimes harsh and blunt, sometimes warm and loving, and always charming and funny. There is a reason he has been around since the ’80s as some of our favorite authority figures; it comes naturally to him.