House Star Omar Epps Talks About TV Doctors and Fatherhood

In his roles as TV doc, Omar Epps has learned plenty about hospitals, bedside manners, and staying well.

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on May 21, 2009
From the WebMD Archives

Actor Omar Epps has played television doctors in both ER andHouse. He recently talked to WebMD the Magazine about what he'slearned about medicine from his TV roles, as well as how he keeps himselfhealthy.

Omar Epps, what has playingDr. Eric Foreman on House M.D. andbefore that Dr. Dennis Gant on ER taught you about your ownhealth?

Be vigilant and pay attention to yourbody.

If you were sick, would you want to betreated by your TV boss, the ornery and brilliant diagnostican Dr. GregoryHouse, played by Hugh Laurie?

Yes, I would want to see Dr. House. Thething about House is that he is the best. House is the doctor that they sendyou to when all else has failed.  His bedside manner is rude, but he is astraight shooter and he will find the right answer nine out of 10times.

Has being on all of these medicaldramas made you a hypochondriac?

I wash my hands a lot more now becausethat is how germs are passed on. In the past few years, the only times that Ihaven’t caught a bug that is going around on the set is when I have beendiligent about washing my hands.

You have three kids ages 9, 4, and 1.It must be hard to stay healthy when they are constantly bringing homegerms.

Yes. They are like petridishes.

Speaking of fatherhood, what has beenthe most exciting part for you so far?

To see them learn something and to reallysee them go from zero to past zero.

What have you learned from yourchildren?

I have learned to keep my innocence. I aman artist, so I have it in me to find the wonder in life. My kids are alsopretty disciplined and determined. If they set their mind to do something, theywill accomplish it and that is pretty admirable.

Any tips or advice for newdads?

When it comes to parenting, there aremany books and a lot of helpful things, but nothing can really prepare you.Once you are driving that ship, it's the hardest, yet greatest job in theworld.

Who wakes up with the kids atnight?

It’s tough. When I work, my wife sleepsin the one year old’s room. My hours are too crazy and I can’t deal withmidnight wake ups, so we make do.

Who makes the doctor’s appointments inyour household?

My wife pretty much keeps that inorder.

How do you eat healthy when you are onthe set and filming all day and presumably bombarded by trays filled withfattening foods?

I like to bring food from home. I am nota health nut per se, but I believe that you are what you eat. I eat a lot ofgreens, salads, and fruits. I also eat a decent amount of raw food because itjust tastes better to me. Every now and then I will get a Fatburger. You haveto have balance.

Any other guilty pleasurefoods?

Potato chips. I could eat a whole jumbobag of barbecue Lays if I don't stop myself.

How do you stay in shape whentaping?

I do exercise, but not as often as I likebecause of the hours I work. I love to box or hit the gym and do a generalworkout. I don’t like basketball because it is too hard on theknees.

How do you unwind when you’re notworking?

I like to catch a movie with the wife ortake the kids out. I like to box and shoot so I go to the gun range. To shootwell, you have to be relaxed. Some of my more relaxing moments have been at thegun range. I also like to get a massage here and there or chill out on thebeach.

How do you balance your busy work andhome life?

I feel blessed to do what I love and beable to make a living and take care of my family. It has been a great ride sofar, so it’s kind of easy to find a balance.

If you had to lose one sense -- taste,sound smell, feel, and hearing -- which would you choose?

Knock on wood. I guess maybe smellbecause if I could still taste food, I wouldn’t need to smell it.

What disease would you most like tosee eradicated and why?

The first one is cancer. It is kind ofsomething that can happen to anyone. A person could be totally healthy, neversmoked a day in their life and they still get cancer.

Did you ever smoke?

I used to, but I stopped.