Interview with Eric McCormack of "Perception" - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Interview with Eric McCormack (Dr. Daniel Pierce) of "Perception" 6/7/13

I really enjoyed speaking with Eric. He was so nice. I'm afraid I was stammering a bit much through-out the interview because I idolize him. I loved "Will & Grace", and he is fantastic in every show or movie I've seen him in as well as being so gorgeous! So I had a terrible case of nerves while speaking with him. I tried so hard to be professional...

We only had about 9 minutes, so he was kind enough to also answer one more question for me on Twitter. I had seen him singing in a Rocky Horror special years ago and was so impressed with his singing. I recall that last season he did sing a little on Perception, so I asked him if we would be hearing him sing again this season. He replied that there would be a little singing in episode number 5! So watch for that.

Here is the audio of my interview with him. I hope you enjoy it!

If the audio is not streaming well, please right-click on this link and save it to your computer. It should work better that way!


Here is the transcribed version by Gisele. - I will be going through and adding more of it later.

1. Suzanne: I know this is the second season of the show, but how did the show and your part in it come about initially?

Eric: Well, there were two ways, really, that were kind of a confluence. I had done "Trust Me" for TNT about six years ago with Tom Cavanaugh, and while that didn't last beyond a season, I had a good relationship with Michael Wright, and we decided to find something down the road. Around that time, they were developing this show with Ken Biller, and Michael says, 'Who're you thinking of for Pierce,' and Ken says, 'I'm thinking Eric McCormack,' and Michael said, 'Well, it's bizarre you say that.' It was really a great coincidence, and when Ken came to me with it, it was kind of a slam dunk."

2. Suzanne: What is most fun about playing this role?

Eric: "I'm terrible at playing just one thing. I like a character that is sort of unpredictable to myself as to the audience, and the fact that he's a combination of brilliant, smarter than me, amazing in front of a classroom, full of hubris and confidence when it comes to academia, and yet completely, because of his disorder, shut down, inappropriate, and unpredictable socially. It's just an endearing combination and the fact that he genuinely likes solving puzzles, he wants to engage, which is hard for people living with paranoid schizophrenia, because sometimes they can lack empathy, and they can disengage socially. I think that he is desperate to reach through his own condition, and connect, which he does in a classroom, which he does with Kate, and what he does particularly with -- There's a lot of this, too, a lot of the people that are the suspects have been only accused, because they themselves have a mental illness that he empathizes with and becomes a real advocate for them."

3. Suzanne: Are there any other shows or movies that people have compared "Perception" to?

Eric: "Well, I mean, there's a little 'Monk' in our lighter moments, but 'Monk' was essentially a comedy. You know, I think when we first started, I got very defensive, like 'Stop comparing us with --' Now it's like, 'Go ahead, compare us with what you want. It's whatever you like. If you like the show you're comparing us to, you'll like us, too. And if you don't, you won't.'  I think there's a new sheriff in town, and that sheriff is damaged. You know, we don't want our heroes perfect anymore. There was a long period, I think, sort of in the '90s of, 'Less about the cop's personal life, let's focus on forensics and the law and the case itself. I think we've come back in the last 10 years to people at the center of these shows where they're damaged, they're imperfect, they're quirky, whatever you want to call it. In this case, we're given someone with a full-on mental illness. That's why the show is called 'Perception.' We're seeing cases through the eyes of someone with a very different perception of things than us."

4. Suzanne: Is it an easier character for you to play now that you're on the second season?

Eric: "I think so. I was talking to someone earlier about how I couldn't afford to figure this character out in Episode 5. I mean, I really had to come in hot. And I'd have to had come in with my homework done. He had to be all there in the pilot, so that I could have consistency, so the people could believe, you know. It's a lot to say, 'Here's a thing you don't know that much about.' You see people in the street talking to themselves, and you go 'Oh, boy. That guy's crazy.' Here's what you don't know about people living with this. Here's the behaviors that add up to a whole person. So, having done that and have been able to do it 10 times last year, I certainly came in this year a lot more confident in the physicality of the character and the way he speaks, and that was fun to feel that confident, because I think that Pierce veers between extreme confidence and complete psychosis, so to have a basis of belief in what I was doing was crucial."

5. Suzanne: I would think that the challenge for the writers is walking the fine line between having the character be a little delusional, but you don't want him to degrade too far, like he did last season.

Eric: "You can't do that too often, I agree. At the same time, for me, I didn't want them to do it too little either. I think that we have to have episodes where his delusion is light and kind of fun to have around. You can't do that all the time -- people with schizophrenia don't just imagine cuddly pals -- they sometimes have very scary visions -- so we've really balanced it. We go from one -- the second episode is a lot of fun. He ended up at a ComicCon kind of place, probably the last place that a paranoid schizophrenic should be. There was everyone in costume, and you see he's not comfortable. There was someone who's wearing like a Lando Calrissian costume, and his illusion in that episode is someone of that ilk, so it's light and fun. In another one, he had visions of this girl that has died, and it's a lot more serious. So, we have to find a balance of what -- We have to be scared with him and not always scared for him, because if we're worried about him all the time, that could be a tough sell. There was a bunch like that. I could see the character was there on the page. I was delighted, but I said, 'How do you do this for a long time?' Because to play this condition at all times -- to play a guy that is sort of in that limbo period between healthy and not healthy is -- And they've amazed me, the writers this year -- I'm just delighted with the scripts, and how they've taken, in some cases, obscure scientific conditions and, in other cases, ones that are ripped right from the headlines and turned that into something that I can use. Because you don't want Pierce there for no reason. He's brought in as an expert because he's needed. The way they've come up with him, not just to be the expert, but to be a real advocate for the mentally ill, has been quite amazing this year."

6. Suzanne: Have you played any other roles where the character is mentally ill?

Eric: "Well, I did 'Who is Clark Rockefeller?' for Lifetime a few years ago where he was found guilty of murder, which we just sort of alluded to in that film. But there's no question that he's got something wrong."

7. Suzanne: Our other volunteer Carole wanted me to ask, "Is there any big difference between working on US and Canadian TV productions?"

Eric: "A lot of what I did in Canada was American stuff, so there's not a big difference. No. I mean, a great crew is a great crew, you know? And we have a great crew here, and we had great crews in Vancouver and Toronto. When you're in the midst of it, a show is a show. As long as the writing is good, you're not really thinking all the time about it."

Don't forget to watch "Perception", which premieres June 25th on TNT! It's really a terrific show.

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