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Neil-ed it

Actor Neil Flynn, known for his roles in “The Middle” and “Scrubs,” visited campus Monday.
photo by Cenn Hall

Actor Neil Flynn, best known for his roles as Mike Heck in “The Middle” and the janitor in “Scrubs,” spent his weekend lunching at One World, taking selfies with students and reminiscing about life on Fredonia, marking his first visit to campus since graduating from Bradley in ’82.

Flynn, who received the 2017 American Forensic Association National Events Tournament Distinguished Alumni Award in Renaissance Coliseum Monday night, said he never considered a career other than acting.

“Even though it was a long march to reaching whatever prominence I may have reached now … I enjoyed almost all of it,” Flynn said. “It’s crazy receiving an award for what I was just trying to do anyway.”

Flynn spent his undergraduate years as a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and the speech team as well as acting in plays at Hartmann Center.

“Thank you high school forensics, thank you college forensics; you got me started, and I’m very, very thankful,” Flynn said.

Senior sports communication major Pablo Iglesias gave Flynn a tour around campus, and he said the actor is “a very humble, very down to earth guy.”

“[Flynn] has said himself that he never felt like a celebrity,” Iglesias said. “People came up to him left and right on the tour taking pictures with him, and he was completely nice about it … He’s a really easy going guy.”


What was it like revisiting Bradley after 35 years?

It’s great to see how much things have changed and improved. I thought it was great when I went here, and it’s only better. There are so many new structures and opportunities being addressed. In the theater department, there’s behind the scenes and technical things being explored, and as far as I know, that stuff wasn’t here when I was.


How did Bradley help you on your road to success?

It gave me my start. It was from doing theater here that I thought maybe I could do this as a living. And if I didn’t do forensics — the speech team — I wouldn’t have wanted to work in theater, and I wouldn’t have had the experience that made me think, “I want to do this forever.”


Were there any other professions you considered while you were here?



What was it like pursuing a career that takes big dreams? Does it take initiative?

Something a little less corny than [initiative]. It takes perseverance because there are a lot of knocks along the way. For most people, it’s not a big sprint to the red carpet. It’s long and filled with a lot of “no’s” and rejection. So you certainly have to believe in yourself, and one of my first thoughts after I got my first regular job was, “I’m glad I didn’t quit.”


Were there any moments where you thought you were going to quit or you seriously considered it?



What’s it like when you do get those “no’s”?

It can be disappointing, but you get used to it for one thing. And if you can take it, it’s not devastating, only if you come very close to some big plum of a job, but … as long as you have enough “yes’s” to keep you going, keep you fed and keep you from being totally discouraged, then it’s OK because the “yes’s” make you believe that you’re on the right track.

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