House Star Omar Epps on TV Doctors and Being a Dad

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Actor Omar Epps has played television doctors in both ER and
House. He recently talked to WebMD the Magazine about what he’s
learned about medicine from his TV roles, as well as how he keeps himself
healthy.

Omar Epps, what has playingDr. Eric Foreman on House M.D. and
before that Dr. Dennis Gant on ER taught you about your own
health?

Be vigilant and pay attention to your
body.

If you were sick, would you want to be
treated by your TV boss, the ornery and brilliant diagnostican Dr. Gregory
House, played by Hugh Laurie?

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

Has being on all of these medical
dramas made you a hypochondriac?

I wash my hands a lot more now because
that is how germs are passed on. In the past few years, the only times that I
haven’t caught a bug that is going around on the set is when I have been
diligent 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 home
germs.

Yes. They are like petri
dishes.

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

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

What have you learned from your
children?

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

Any tips or advice for new
dads?

When it comes to parenting, there are
many 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 the
world.

Who wakes up with the kids at
night?

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

Who makes the doctor’s appointments in
your household?

My wife pretty much keeps that in
order.

How do you eat healthy when you are on
the set and filming all day and presumably bombarded by trays filled with
fattening foods?

I like to bring food from home. I am not
a health nut per se, but I believe that you are what you eat. I eat a lot of
greens, salads, and fruits. I also eat a decent amount of raw food because it
just tastes better to me. Every now and then I will get a Fatburger. You have
to have balance.

Any other guilty pleasure
foods?

Potato chips. I could eat a whole jumbo
bag of barbecue Lays if I don’t stop myself.

How do you stay in shape when
taping?

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

How do you unwind when you’re not
working?

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

How do you balance your busy work and
home life?

I feel blessed to do what I love and be
able to make a living and take care of my family. It has been a great ride so
far, 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 smell
because if I could still taste food, I wouldn’t need to smell it.

What disease would you most like to
see eradicated and why?

The first one is cancer. It is kind of
something that can happen to anyone. A person could be totally healthy, never
smoked a day in their life and they still get cancer.

Did you ever smoke?

I used to, but I stopped.