'Burn Notice's' John C. McGinley: 'There's Going to Be Some Naughtiness'

Burn Notice John C. McGinley - P 2012
Glenn Watson/USA

Burn Notice John C. McGinley - P 2012

Burn Notice is about to get Cox-ed.

Scrubs alum John C. McGinley makes his first appearance on the Miami-set USA Network drama as Michael Westen's mentor, of sorts. But as McGinley, who played the curmudgeon-y Dr. Perry Cox from 2001-10 tells The Hollywood Reporter, his character Tom Card may not be 100 percent on the up and up.

"Michael was Tom's prized pupil," McGinley says. "We come to find out that when he did get burned in Ireland, Tom was the one over there and facilitated his exit. I sense Tom is going to go south here; by the end of the storyline, something tells me he's going to be naughty."

At the moment, Tom will be trying his best to help Michael with his quest to free Fiona. "He's giving Michael work," McGinley says. "Right now, it's fun because he's straddling being an ethically sound guy who's helping Michael out but I feel like on the periphery -- and I'm not teasing this because I have no idea what these writers are doing -- there's going to be some naughtiness, which will be delicious."

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McGinley had high praise for series star Jeffrey Donovan, who he credited as giving him a "great" entry point into the show as Donovan also directed his first episode. For McGinley, going from the quirkiness of Scrubs to the high-octane action drama of Burn Notice was not a stretch.

"The style on Scrubs was very sardonic, very glib. There were four or five jokes a page and if it didn't work, it didn't matter because there was no laugh track, you turn the page and there's five more. There were sight gags, J.D.'s (Zach Braff) fantasies so those never dumbed us down to the audience," he says.

While on Burn Notice, "what I've noticed is there are a lot of double entendres. The actors aren't exactly winking at the lens but they're having a good time. The last episode I spent in Gabrielle Anwar's (Fiona) prison interrogating her and she's the greatest," McGinley says.

As he tells it, Tom and Michael aren't going to have an easygoing relationship.

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"Jeffrey and I go at it pretty hard," McGinley teases. "The pupil has now eclipsed the teacher and whenever that happens in a story, the teacher never wants to relinquish the power position and the way the writers are writing this, you have two alphas. There can only be a one ever. The two of them are fighting for the bone."

But he is aware that Tom's days may be numbered. "In storytelling, the hero has to [come out on top]," McGinley says. "The hero's journey is that he has to come out against these obstacles and find a way around them and he will."

As to what his character's fate will be when it all comes down to it, he offered several possibilities.

"Either my character will be killed or he will betray Michael," McGinley says.

And writers, take note, the actor already has ideas on what he'd like to see Tom do: "I'd like to do a foot chase that turns into a car chase that turns into a swim. I'd like to do a three-pronged chase! That'd be pretty good."

Burn Notice airs 9 p.m. Thursdays.