Donald Faison will soon be hanging up his stethoscope, as his medical comedy Scrubs gets ready to pull the plug.FOR THE PAST EIGHT YEARS, DONALD FAISON has made audiences laugh through his role as Dr. Christopher Turk, the infinitely lovable surgeon on Scrubs who disco dances, shares an apartment with taxidermy, is prone to surreal daydreams, and answers to the name Chocolate Bear. The show, a critical darling and cult hit, ran for seven seasons on NBC before leaping this season to ABC, where it is scheduled to end its run for good in May. However, fans of the sweet and silly series know that its fate has been in question several times before. Could this cat possibly get a ninth life?
“No one knows for sure what will happen next,” says Faison, 34. “It feels like the story is told and the end is near, but I honestly couldn’t tell you.” It’s no matter to the ever-lively Faison, who is also an accomplished playwright and songwriter. He’s ready for whatever life brings next.
Scrubs has been canceled and born again several times during its eight-year run. How many times can you go through the Kübler-Ross stages of grief with this show? We learned really early with this show that expectations will break your heart. On the one hand, we’ve been on the air for eight years. Not a lot of shows can say that. On the other hand, we really thought we would be this hit show. The critics loved us. Our core fans loved us. But we never became a big hit. Around the fourth year or so, when it was never certain if we were coming back or not, we all started learning to release those expectations. If it’s over, it’s over. If it’s not, it’s not. That’s where I’m at now. If I were a Jedi, forget about it: I would have long ago mastered that lesson of how to let go of everything I hold dear.
You brought up Star Wars, and I’ve heard that you’ve watched The Empire Strikes Back 350 times. What do you get from the 350th viewing that you don’t from, say, the 10th? Every time I watch it, I’m taken over and I’m taken away. It’s such an amazing story set in such an amazing world, and it actually reflects the world we live in right now, today, in so many ways -- but in space. [Laughs] What if the whole galaxy were involved in our economic crisis or our oil problems or our war? What if the stage were bigger for all our problems?
So which Star Wars character are you? It would have to be Han Solo. Nothing really affects him. All he’s trying to do is pay his debt.
At its core, Scrubs is a show about growing up. How has the show helped you grow up? I’m a lot more patient than I used to be. Show business really is a “hurry up and wait” industry. I’ve learned how to control my emotions when it comes to being frustrated by the long hours or the sitting around. Other than that, I think I’m still a kid. I just have responsibilities and pay some bills now. But I’m still the guy doing arm farts in the fancy restaurant.
Tell me about your Superman tattoo. I was 18. I wanted to get a tattoo. Superman was the coolest. He could solve every problem. He was the man of steel. I wanted to do it. My right arm is my strong arm, so I thought if I put the tattoo on that arm, it’d make me stronger. Didn’t really do anything for me. I’m just permanently marked with another man’s insignia. You live and learn.
Jon Bon Jovi also has a Superman tattoo on his arm. Do you guys have anything else in common? [Laughs] Well, I am a cowboy, and on a steel horse I have ridden. Have I ever been wanted? Yes -- hopefully just alive. [Laughs] I love me some Bon Jovi.