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