Even as part of NBC’s new all-comedy Thursday night lineup, Scrubs is the show that can’t get no love — it’s kicking off what could be its last season in TV’s toughest time slot. Donald Faison, who plays Sacred Heart’s resident Brown Bear Dr. Christopher Turk, called in with some scoop on season 6, which premieres tonight at 9 p.m.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Will this be the last season of Scrubs, as rumored?
DONALD FAISON: I have no idea. It really depends. Zach [Braff, who plays J.D.] has said that it’s his last season, but you never know. If it is, we’ll see if the show’s doable without him.
NBC lovingly put you up against Grey’s Anatomy. What’s been the reaction to that on set?
”Holy s—, are you serious?” That’s what the reaction has been. But we already have a core audience — you know, no matter who we’re up against, they show up and watch us, so that’s great. Hopefully, having The Office as a lead-in, we can get higher ratings this year. But that’s not really what it’s about. It’s about putting quality shows on television for people to enjoy.
How wacky is this season going to be compared to previous ones?
As the show’s gone on, we’ve gotten more and more cartoonish. This year, it’ll be like watching The Simpsons or Family Guy, but live-action, which is cool because no other show has done that. Those are shows that everybody who likes comedy has always thought were funny, and it’s not like we want to be exactly like those shows, but it’d be kind of cool to see a live-action show where they do things there’s no way in hell you’d do in real life.
What’s your favorite scene that you’ve done in that vein?
We just finished the musical episode this season. That was a lot of fun.
Oh, so you did end up doing that. What’ll it be a spinoff of?
It’s a spinoff of every musical that’s ever been made. We make fun of pretty much everybody. But my favorite scene in season 5 was being able to kick a bunch of surgeons’ asses through kung fu. F—ing rocked. That was out of nowhere, dude. I thought it was hilarious. They choreographed with a stuntman, but when they realized I didn’t need one, I got to do a fight scene like Bruce Lee.
As an actor, is it ever difficult to make the sudden switch between silly and serious?
That’s how life is, you know — when you’re feeling your best, someone snatches the rug out from under you. That’s how I look at this show. You experience it so much in real life that it’s not hard to act out.
Scrubs has had a really distinct, oddball tone right from the beginning. How easy is it at this point to grasp exactly what the director wants out of you?
We all know our characters really well now. After year 3, it sort of became about ”Are the scripts funny?” instead of ”Am I saying this right?” I’m not writing the scripts, but if I were, I’d imagine it’d be very difficult. From an actor’s standpoint, other than the long hours, it’s pretty easy to make the show because we know the characters so well. And Bill [Lawrence, the show’s creator] doesn’t have to explain a lot to us to us for us to understand what’s going on. I was so nervous because I took a whole summer off this year. I hung out with my family, I traveled. I went back to work and thought what if I forgot how to play this character? But after an hour on set I thought no, I could never forget.
Do you ever feel like a doctor off-camera?
I don’t feel like a doctor on the show!
Do you or any of the other actors ever torture Neil Flynn, like for payback?
Neil Flynn is a big man. I think he plays the janitor for a reason, because there’s that dark side to Neil. He’s a sweetheart, but you know that you don’t want to touch Neil. None of us make fun of Judy [Reyes, who plays Carla] either. These are the people you can always make fun of: Zach, Sarah [Chalke, who plays Elliot] and Donald. Everybody else, you pretty much stay away from. Johnny, nobody makes fun of. Nobody makes fun of Ken. Always comes down on us three.
You don’t mind it?
No, it’s fun.
Can we take some time to address how brilliant Turk’s ”Poison” dance was, last fall?
Aww. You know what sucks about that though? When I go to a club now, ”Poison” comes on. I’m with castmates, and it’s like they’re waiting for me to start doing the dance I did on the show. And that’s crazy, you know? Like if you go to a club, and Puffy’s there, you play Puffy songs all night long, or if you go to a club, and Jay-Z’s there, they’ll play nothing but Jay-Z. I go to a club, and ”Poison” comes on. And all eyes turn onto me. I heard that the cat from Napoleon Dynamite came to a party, and they put on that song from the end of the movie, and he did the whole frickin’ dance, in the middle of a circle.
Not your style?
Well, I guess that makes the character’s dance much more special.
Right. The character‘s dance.
Was that choreographed, or did you make it up? See, I refuse to stop discussing it.
I made it up.
No way! How many takes did you need to do?
We did like two takes.
I’ll move on. You’re an exceptionally good shrieker. How was this discovered?
I had no idea I could scream like that. It’s become my ”Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”
Is Turk ready to become a dad?
I don’t think anybody’s really ready to have a baby ’til it’s done. But he’s gonna be a great father, better than a lot of people actually thought he was gonna be. I’m excited about that. I get to join the ranks of great TV dads like Dr. Huxtable.
Is the baby a boy or a girl?
I can’t tell you that.
Is it a pumpkin?
It’s not a pumpkin. [Laughs] You actually watch the show!
I know! I’m cool. Will Turk be upset if his baby’s not a ”boy boy boy very tall boy”?
Probably. But… I don’t know… he might get lucky.
Everyone has nicknames on the show, so I bet the baby’ll get it even worse.
Right. I’m the only African-American in the world being called Brown Bear, by the way.
Do you love it?
It’s hilarious. It’s television, so it’s cool.
What’s your favorite nickname for Turk?
They’re all pretty funny. Brownest of Bears is hilarious. Mocha Bear, Chocolate Bear, Brown Bear, Brownest of Browns. [Laughs] Those are all funny names for another grown man to call you.
Can you tease us with anything else about the season? Are all three of the pregnancies really gonna follow through?
It’s gonna be a really good season. We’re having a lot of fun making the show this year. And regardless of who we go up against, what time slot, on what night, on what network, we’re having a great season for ourselves. Hopefully that transcends into everyone enjoying it, too, because we’re doing some really funny stuff.