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Ted McGinley: Interview with Jefferson of Married with Children

Ted McGinley Interview – Devoted dad in the movies and real life

What would you feel if you woke up one morning to find a baby abandoned on your doorstep? Chaos. Joy. Stress. Panic. Love. All of the above? Well, that’s the scenario in which Ted McGinley (yes, Jefferson in Married … With Children) finds himself in Hallmark Channel’s new movie, Notes from a Heart Healer. Several tissues and about ninety minutes later, all ends well for baby and parents. But we wondered, how hard did Ted McGinley work to be the great husband and dad that he is in this movie?

Your Teen spoke with McGinley and it turns out that his character mirrors his real-life personality. (Stay tuned for interview with Genie Francis, also known as Laura from General Hospital.)

Q: After doing this movie, would you be interested in starting over with a baby?

McGinley: I hate to say things like that because the next thing you know you’re in it. But I did this the right way. I mean nobody else is doing my job for me. I’m still there, in the trenches all the time and parenting takes up a lot of your life.

Q: Will you find it hard when your kids leave for college?

McGinley: Yeah. We will have a huge empty nest because our kids are our lives. I just took my oldest for his college trip, and it was so much fun because I rarely spend time alone with him. The trip was magic.

I would say there are a lot of things I have not done well but one thing I’ve at least given everything to is being a dad and a father so I feel like I have done a good job, the proof will be in the pudding but….

Q: Were kids always your first priority?

McGinley: When I met my wife, I wanted her to go to Europe with me because she had never traveled before. For me, traveling was everything and I needed my future wife to be able to handle difficult situations and appreciate the simple beauty of being in a foreign place. So we traveled together and she was great so I knew I could marry her. Then we had kids and we haven’t traveled since.

Q: Did any of the roles you play prepare you for being the parent of a teen?

McGinley: I see it the other way around. Being a parent has prepared me for playing those roles. To be honest, being a parent has made me play every role better. I also spent ten years as a camp counselor for kids with cancer. I spent days locked up in a cabin with the camper, a doctor and me. I think that was probably the most important role in preparing me. I gave so much, yet I got so much more out of it than I gave.

Q: Which character is most similar to you as a dad?

McGinley: Um, I would say um this is a tough question I’ve played dads in shows that haven’t made it but I’d say the one on Hope and Faith is somewhat similar to me.

Q: Did you have a good role model?

McGinley: I had a great role model in my dad. My mom and dad were always supportive even when I threw away college to enter this business. They are great parents and wonderful grandparents. I’m crazy about them.

Q: Are your kids interested in acting?

McGinley: No, both were the leads in their 8th grade musical. My youngest one is an amazing dancer and a good actor. We would prefer that they choose something else but if that’s what they pick, no one that would support them more than us, but after they finished college.

Q: And why would you prefer that they choose something else?

McGinley: I just think that there is more stability and entertainment can be a very tricky life. As job opportunities are starting to slow down, I keep thinking like what else am I going to do. My wife is in her 40s and she is currently playing grandma on Army Wives. I have friends in other professions that seem to get easier as you get older.

One of my sons is very good in science. I think he might be interested in medicine, but I really try to let them make their choices, because it’s their life.

Q: Did you enjoy doing Dancing With The Stars?

I did. But I was definitely disappointed. My younger son was there with me and he definitely saw a vulnerable father. Still, I would do it again tomorrow. It was a real challenge and great fun. My wife would like to be on it also, and she would be awesome. She is a great dancer and stunning.

Q: Did your celebrity status impact your kids?

McGinley: Well, at different points, there have been different challenges. When we were in public and someone would ask for a picture or autograph, my family felt impatient. But my kids learned patience. I felt that being gracious was the easiest way to deal with it. Most people are just like me, I’m embarrassed but I would do it for my kids.

Q: Are your kids exposed to more because of your status?

McGinley: We live in West LA where everyone’s father or mother is in the business and we are so small time that my kids could care less. My kids have never watched Married…with Children. When they were young, it was inappropriate and now that they are older, they aren’t interested. But it is funny, I coach a baseball team and some of the other kids will go, “Mr. McGinley, I love that episode where you did such and such,” and my kids have no idea what they are talking about.

Susan Borison

Susan Borison, mother of five, is the founder and editor of Your Teen Media. Because parenting teenagers is humbling and shouldn’t be tackled alone.