‘MacGyver’: How Amy Acker Ended Up Guest-Starring (and Why She’d Like to Stay)

Amy Acker and George Eads in the Sept. 30 episode of 'MacGyver' (Credit: CBS)
Amy Acker and George Eads in the Sept. 30 episode of MacGyver. (Credit: CBS)

In the premiere of CBS’s new MacGyver, we learned that Angus MacGyver (Lucas Till) may not have the best taste in women; it turns out the same may not be true for Jack Dalton (George Eads). In tonight’s episode, we meet Sarah Adler, played by Angel and Person of Interest‘s Amy Acker.

Related: ‘MacGyver’ Premiere: What Works, What Needs Work

When Dalton hears who their rescue mission is for — Sarah’s gone missing in Venezuela after obtaining evidence to take down an international arms dealer — the look on his face suggests that there’s quite a long story there. “They used to be … partners. I don’t know what the right word is there,” says Acker. Her uncertainty is due to the fact that, besides their years of engaging in covert military operations together, there’s a romantic connection that almost, but never quite, seems to bubble to the surface whenever they’re together. “They’ve had a little history of missed opportunities, relationship-wise,” she says.

And, she notes, “They’ve each had their own turn saving each other’s lives.” It’s made clear early on that Adler is no damsel in distress — in fact, MacGyver calls her the female version of Dalton. (If you’ve ever seen Acker play the sometimes sweet, sometimes terrifying Root in Person of Interest, you know that she can more than hold her own against the mighty force that is George Eads.)

(Credit: CBS)
Photo: CBS

Since we’re so early into the series, introducing a “female version” is actually a really fun way to find out more about who Dalton the character is. Acker says there’s a “wild-card element” that she saw in Eads’s portrayal that she injected into her own. “You [don’t] know which direction she’s going to go,” she says. And she tried to bring Dalton’s sense of humor into Adler. “It was fun to get to poke fun at him in the way that he does to other people. We tried to work that in wherever we could,” Acker laughs.

Related: Locked in a Room With MacGyver: Can Lucas Till Live Up To the Hype?

Acker’s role in Person of Interest began as a guest star, but her work was so impressive that she became a series regular a few seasons later, so don’t be too surprised if the MacGyver producers bring her back. “That seems like the most fun way to have a job: You get to try it out first, get to like all the people, and somehow convince them they need to keep you around,” she says.

She was initially drawn to MacGyver by the involvement of David Slack, a former writer for PoI. “He’s so talented and a great friend. I just like saying any words that he’s writing,” she says with a grin. Acker also wants to be involved for another, more personal reason: “I have an 11-year-old son who likes to build contraptions. I might gain some cool mom points!”

Though she’s never made an impromptu parachute out of a truck tarp, Acker says that she does have a little of the show’s spirit in her at all times. “I’m more of the crafty version of MacGyver. ‘Let’s make this into a table!’” she says. “I’m the Martha Stewart MacGyver.”

There are at least six MacGyverisms in the second episode, and if forced to choose just one, she says she’d go with the night-vision goggles. That decision is based partly on coolness, but also on one very practical concern. “My only fear was that when I was showing my son this, all of a sudden we were going to have explosions going off in our backyard,” she says. With the goggles, “I think my house would have the least chance of burning down.”

MacGyver airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on CBS.