Reboots are a tricky business — after all, this isn’t the first time they’ve tried to bring back MacGyver — but this time, they almost made it look easy. Season 1 is ending as one of CBS’s more watched shows and we talked with Lucas Till, as they put the finishing touches on the season finale, about what he’s learned, what his hopes are for next season, and what it’s like to sink in quicksand.
“It was a whirlwind experience,” says Till when asked about the finale. “There’s gonna be a little more interaction with Murdoc again — I won’t spoil what it is — but, a little bit. And, there’s an old character coming back — not an old character coming back from our show, but from the original — called Dr. Zito, who’s another one of MacGyver’s nemesises, nemeses, nemesi? Whatever the plural of those is. One of those guys.” Zito is played by Mark Sheppard (Supernatural) who, Till points out, is the real life son of the original Dr. Zito, W. Morgan Sheppard.
See Dr. Zito from the original MacGyver:
Things are a bit easier now for Till than they were almost a year ago when they first started filming. “It’s a lot more fun now,” he tells us. “In the beginning, it was like threading a needle. You gotta be a hero but you gotta be humble, but you gotta have a little bit of snark or cockiness in there because you are a secret agent and you know what you’re capable of. But you gotta be modest about it. You gotta be a nice guy!”
He feels like there’s a stiffness to the first half of the season because of all the notes he was getting, but eventually he figured out how to get more of his personality into the character. “Now, you just show up and play yourself, so it’s easy,” Till jokes. Of course, it’s never really easy. Not even after a season of figuring out the show’s flow, learning tricks about how to shoot. He’s done it enough now that he can offer advice to directors. “I have to guide people how to do the MacGyver stuff now. It’s its own thing. It’s its own character.”
But he laughs now at the thought of how truly intense those early days were. Till and co-star George Eads would work through the night, not just rehearsing, but finding their characters and establishing the rhythms that make the show unique, all while settling into a new town (MacGyver shoots in Atlanta). “I don’t think either of us are ready for [the pace of] the beginning of the show, but we definitely kicked into high gear for the end.”
Sometimes, all the experience in the world can’t help you and you just have to tough it out. “The Colton episode [episode 16, “Hook”], we start off in quicksand. That was weird. It was a cauldron of goo,” Till recalls, “We had to move it to another day because the goo was 215 degrees in some parts and 60 degrees in other parts. It had to be stirred like a witches cauldron. We got into it in wetsuits. And the compression… let’s just say your extremities can get a little bunched up. The pressure was insane!”
They couldn’t move until all the shots were done, so sweat began burning his eyes. “I started swatting at it, trying to get away. They actually inserted a fly, digitally,” to explain his odd behavior. Finally, they finished and he went back to his trailer to shower, only to find that a leak had sprung in the water heater, so the refreshing shower smelled like sulfur. Till doesn’t mind, though. “That pain, that weirdness, is where the fun and the better moments come from.”
This exclusive sneak peek clip features MacGyver doing some cutting-edge field medicine on Bozer (Justin Hires), whose role has greatly expanded since the first episode. “He was having a great time getting paid the same amount, but only working one day. Now, he’s working a lot more in episodes. He’s doing MacGyver moments, they’ve got him doing stunts, they’ve got him doing all kinds of stuff!” Till laughs and says he warned Hires: “Don’t do too good of a job — you won’t be rewarded for it!
Till definitely has hopes for next season — although, since he isn’t a writer, he doesn’t have much say in it. “More women would be good. The guy had a new girl every episode and it was definitely a talking point when my reps were talking to me about why I should do this.” Till laments, “Man! I don’t have any time to go kiss girls on the weekend; I need them to come to work!” In fact, the writers do have a “just awesome” plan for him, but it’s too early to spill the beans on anything just yet. “I think the show is just going to continue to be really, really fun. So, I’m excited!”
The first season finale of MacGyver airs Friday, April 14 at 8 p.m. on CBS.
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