Sunday, March 28, 2010

Disabled actor Michael Patrick Thornton gets busy on ABC's Private Practice

Since I wrote about Michael Patrick Thornton (pictured) joining ABC's "Private Practice" as Dr. Gabriel Fife back in November 2009, I have been pleased to see him integrated into the storylines on the show as a regular cast member. In the March 25 episode, he began a romantic relationship with Audra McDonald's Naomi character. It was complete with her fumbling for information about how a wheelchair user has sex by obtaining a hilarious educational pamphlet. Spoiler alert: She found out, and her character and Thornton's officially began their sexual relationship.

Here's a profile of Chicago-native Thornton by WLS-TV there in February 2010:

Seven years ago, the life of a 24-year-old Chicago actor changed after becoming paralyzed by two strokes.

Determined to get back on stage, Michael Patrick Thornton not only returned to acting, he has become a semi-regular on ABC'S Private Practice.

Playing a physician with a disability, Michael Patrick Thornton is living his dreams with a different twist.

"I think I always knew I wanted to be working in theater and film and television, but the way that everything has happened, I never would've guessed it would've happened that way," said Thornton.

At 30, Michael's life is on a fast track.

Fourteen months after becoming disabled he directing his first play at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater. Two years later, he put on a one-man show at the Gift Theater in Jefferson Park. He also started walking with a walker.

"And it was very slow, and it was 1 foot, and now I can walk over a quarter of a mile in just under 80 minutes," Thornton said in April 2006.

It wasn't that long ago that the only thing he could move was his head.

"And I wasn't breathing on my own, I was on a ventilator," said Thornton. "Because it really hurt my voice and my speech, and I had to go through nine months of speech therapy."

Michael's character Dr. Fife has a recurring role on Private Practice. He was first seen in November.

"I play a very arrogant geneticist. He's like the most cutting edge geneticist in the world, and he's young and very confident. He has absolutely no time for bureaucracy whatever," said Thornton.

When Michael is not flying back and forth to Los Angeles...

"I do an improv show at The Gift every Wednesday and Friday, help run the theater company, teach a class when it works with my schedule," Thornton said.

Recently he got a call from Fox Searchlight.

"So we'll see what happens with that, and my buddy Ben, who is an ensemble member at The Gift, is working on a screenplay for me and we're shooting that in Chicago," said Thornton.