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

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By Suzanne

Eric McCormack

Interview with Eric McCormack of "Perception" on TNT 8/14/14

This is one of my favorite shows. I'm always happen when it returns to my TV! Eric McCormack and his wonderful acting performance is one of the main reasons. He's very nice in interviews, too. This is my second time speaking with him. I just wish I could see him in person because he's so gorgeous.

Moderator: Maya T. Brooks
August 14, 2014
1:00 pm CT

Operator: Good day and welcome to the Turner Entertainment Eric McCormack, “Perception,” TNT conference call. Today’s conference is being recorded. At this time I would like to turn the conference over to Christina Hamilton. Please go ahead.

Christina Hamilton: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining the Eric McCormack Perception conference call. The season three summer finale of TNT’s hit drama series, “Perception,” airs Tuesday, August 19 at 10:00 pm on TNT. The conference is now open for questions. Please press star 1 to ask your question. Thank you.

Operator: And we’ll take our first question today from Jamie Steinberg with the Starry Constellation Magazine. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Jamie Steinberg: Hello. Always a pleasure to speak with you.

Eric McCormack: Hi Jamie.

Jamie Steinberg: You have such an incredible role, and (Daniel) has. Is playing someone who’s reality is pretty broad, is that reaching or is it fun? Is it exhausting?

Eric McCormack: It’s totally all of the above. I mean, he’s - I have a lot of energy in life anyway which - so when I’ve tried to play cooler heads, when I’ve tried to play macho guys with little to say, it doesn’t work. I’m better off in a part like (Daniel) where my brain is racing and my physicality is a plus.

And I love playing a guy that is much smarter than I am, whose verbiage gives me a chance to throw my ability to memorize and my ability to describe and to play. He’s like - he’s a workout but you feel good after a workout.

Operator: Thank you. We’ll take our next question from Suzanne Lanoue with The TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.

Suzanne Lanoue: Hi. It’s great to speak with you again.

Eric McCormack: You too.

Suzanne Lanoue: Yes, I was wondering, have you found out yet whether there’s going to be a next season or is it too early to tell?

Eric McCormack: It’s not too early for me but you’ll have to ask TNT. It seems to be too early for them.

Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, well, I hope (they get one). Thanks.

Eric McCormack: Me too.

Operator: And we’ll go next to Jay Jacobs with Pop Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Jay Jacobs: Hi Eric. It’s nice to talk to you again.

Eric McCormack: (And you too).

Jay Jacobs: There’s been a running arc through this season about your dad and how Dr. Pierce is trying to come to terms with his bad relationship with him and also his struggles with Alzheimer’s. As a brain specialist, do you think that it makes it sort of harder knowing his helplessness in this situation? And also, what’s Peter Coyote like to work with in the role?

Eric McCormack: Well, first of all I was just - I was delighted. The exciting thing about TV sometimes is that you can plant seeds that show up and grow later on, you know, and in - when my mother - when JoBeth Williams appeared as a hallucination of my mother in the second season, she mentioned that my father and I had a very distant and not good relationship.

And that was - it was literally one line but I love that that planted the seed for this year where Peter shows up, who’s great. I mean, an underrated actor. I just loved having him there. And it was one of those pieces of casting that once he’s on set, once we’re in similar clothing, it was just, like, it was kind of magic. It worked and he and I were just naturally fractious and it was a great piece of chemistry.

But, yes, I think it’s - for (Daniel), for someone who’s constantly wrestling with the idea of his disease not debilitating him, that he’s going to get the better of it or he’s going to use it to his advantage. To see his own father, another very hard-headed man, being brought low by a brain disease is - it gives him that much more fuel and it makes him that much more sympathetic.

Operator: Thank you and we’ll go next to Earl Dittman with Digital Journal. Please go ahead.

Earl Dittman: Hi Eric. How are you today?

Eric McCormack: Great.

Earl Dittman: I was going to say, after playing this character for several seasons now, as an actor, what is the greatest thing you’ve learned about acting from playing this character, if there’s been anything that you’ve taken away from it?

Eric McCormack: About acting?

Earl Dittman: About acting, yes.

Eric McCormack: I think that there’s a - how do I put this? We - there was - was it (Malcolm Gladwell) that was talking about the 10,000 hours, this concept that you really don’t get good at something until you’ve put 10,000 hours into it and I feel like, for me, I’ve learned that I’m a - I don’t know that I would’ve - what I would’ve brought to this 15 years ago that (Daniel) and I kind of intersected at exactly the right time.

I’m enough of an actor now to play this part in a way that I might not have been before. So I think I’ve learned that you - the idea that I had about acting in theater school, which was very much about putting on costumes and, you know, my dad’s got a par and let’s put on a play.

It’s a much deeper and richer experience than that. And to play someone like this, someone - I think I have a real responsibility to the mental health community and to the academic community to get it right and I’m kind of glad that happened at a time in my life where I could do it justice.

Operator: Thank you and we’ll take a follow up from Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation. Please go ahead.

Jamie Steinberg: It’s been a great season. We’ve enjoyed seeing (Daniel) in so many different aspects of his life and in different situations. What can you tease us, though, is in store for the finale?

Eric McCormack: Well, as we saw last week, I was personally - I loved watching the one last week. As I said, it was like - I thought it was one of the best ones we’ve done in terms of just a great set of fast-paced emotional storyline, but it was the LeVar Burton’s first directing for us and this next one is also LeVar and they go together very nicely, these two episodes.

But I love the - what we tease at the end of the episode that aired the other night was this idea that Donnie’s pursuing being and (alderman) in Chicago and the relationship he has with this woman, Shelby. That’s the big drive in the next episode.

Quite frankly, I kind of wish it’s something we teased out a little longer because it’s - the idea of Scott Wolf as a candidate, I think, is a great idea. But, in fact, a lot of it is going to come to a head in this next episode in a very shocking way, a very - the episode opens quite shockingly, I think. That’s about all I can - that’s all I can tease.

Operator: Thank you. And we’ll also have a follow up from Suzanne Lanoue with TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.

Suzanne Lanoue: Hi. I’m sure you’ve been asked this question probably a million times but do you think there’ll ever be any of your former costars from, “Will & Grace,” appearing on your show?

Eric McCormack: Well, it turns out my main costar, Debra, is about to solve crimes herself on her new NBC show, so I think eventually all - everyone from, “Will & Grace,” will solve crimes. I do think that’s the fate of all of us. But I don’t know. I would love to get -

I know Sean’s going to do - he’s going to be busy with, “The Millers,” but I’ve always said I’d love to show America what Megan can do when she’s not being funny because she’s such a good actress. I’d love to get Megan on in some form if we get another crack at it.

Operator: Thank you and we also have a follow up from Jay Jacobs with Pop Entertainment. Please go ahead.

Jay Jacobs: Yes, earlier this season you filmed an episode in Paris. What was that like to sort of go on the road like that? And do you think in the long run that Dr. Pierce might’ve been happier had he just stayed there and tried to live his life as it was going there?

Eric McCormack: Well, I mean, the experience of doing it was fantastic because of the nature of the show, because he is an intellect and an appreciator of history, the fact that he could walk the streets of Paris and be a fish out of water, be a - in terms of his disease, but be very much at home to - when we shot the scene where Pierce lectured at the Sorbonne, it was just magical, just magical.

But, in fact, I think that was - what turned out in the end with this episode, was the idea that he did believe he could be there. He did believe he could change his life, again, without meds, but he could just make a giant shift and everything would be all right. And, in fact, it went completely wrong.

And I think that was a good thing to show the audience, to remind them that this man that so often seems quite confident is, in fact, at the whimsy of his disease and can’t just ride the horse any way he wants. And so Paris was a great reminder that there’s still a lot of adventure out there but he can’t - he’s not necessarily able to handle it all.

Operator: Thank you and we’ll go next to Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation. Please go ahead.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, we’ve talked about what’s in store for the remainder of this season but what would you like to see (Daniel) explore next season?

Eric McCormack: Well, it - it’s funny, with these - with the way TNT sort of teases it out. We have five more episodes that we’ve already shot that will air in the winter which is technically part of Season 2. It becomes this kind of season 2A, I suppose - or not 2, 3.

Season 3, the last five episodes will air this winter and we’ve - those get into a new area which I think is a logical extension of what happens Tuesday. But as Rachel and Scott’s characters start to head towards a second marriage, a second wedding, (Daniel), as a result of what happens in this episode next week, starts to come out of his own emotional shell and starts to speak up a bit more.

And I think - it’s an interesting dilemma with people online in terms of how happy they are or not happy they are, or that (Kate) may end up with Donnie again and there’s a whole contingent - the shippers - I love the shippers - the shippers that want (Kate) and (Daniel) together.

So - and there are those that actually like (Daniel) meeting these few women he’s had over the course of the season and actually getting some action. So I love - as much as I love our crimes of the week, I do love the emotional territory that we’re starting to get into, particularly with (Kate) and (Daniel).

Operator: And another follow up from Suzanne Lanoue. Please go ahead.

Suzanne Lanoue: Hi again. You mentioned there’re five more episodes to the rest of the season. So I hope you get more seasons, but if not, will the final one from this season be satisfying and a good end - good in the end?

Eric McCormack: Well, the honest question - the honest answer to that is no, it will be much better to have another season. We certainly didn’t shoot anything with the idea that this was the ending. It’s an ending to an element of the story but it, in fact, sets up a lot more stuff for a hopefully future season.

Operator: And we have time for two more questions. We’ll go first to Jay Jacobs with Pop Entertainment. Please to ahead.

Jay Jacobs: Yes, you had mentioned earlier that LeVar Burton had directed the last episode ad is going to be doing the next one, too. Oh, well, has done the next one already. Well, what was he like to work with in that capacity compared to working with him as a costar?

Eric McCormack: It was honestly, I think, everyone - the whole crew would probably agree, everyone’s favorite experience. He just - he’s very - he’s so much fun, LeVar. He’s so full of joy and it’s always fun when he drops in to play the dean for a scene or two. But when he’s in charge, he - there’s a tremendous sense of trust of everyone.

He’s the guy that’ll print after the first take and everyone’s like, “Wait, wait, wait. No, wait. Give us one more.” And he’s like, “What? That was great. And he’s very often right and we - it’s that kind of confidence and positive energy is such a thing, particularly in television where crews can get so worn out by people doing six, seven, eight takes, you know, over and over and over again. He was a real leader and he was a joy.

Operator: Thank you. We’ll take our last question from Earl Dittman with Digital Journal. Please go ahead.

Earl Dittman: You know, Eric, there are so many shows now on cable, on television, period. And there’re so many things to choose from but why do you think - “Perception,” is such a great show. Why do you think people are honed into watching it every week when they have so many other choices? To you, what do you think makes a show great, and to fans?

Eric McCormack: Well, you know, I mean it’s - my hope was always that it would bring in a whole different kind - different groups and it sort of is. I mean, I’m hoping we can build on what we have, but it certainly is, to anyone that likes, you know, “Castle,” and, “The Mentalist,” it - there’s all of that crime solving and chemistry.

But a lot of what I get is college students who maybe don’t watch a lot of television, or at least not this kind of traditional mystery show, they like - they love the opening and closing. They love the lecture scenes. They love that it’s an academic setting.

There really aren’t a lot of shows, ever, set in universities, and with such an unabashed, unapologetic academic approach. And I think (Daniel) is that. (Daniel) gets to be - he gets to be our crime solver, our Sherlock Holmes, but he also gets to be terrified. He gets to be academically brilliant and not just forensically or going from his street sense. He’s a very different character and I think it’s appealed to people in ways that they maybe didn’t see coming.

Operator: Thank you. That concludes today’s Q&A session. I’ll turn it back over to our presenters for any closing remarks.

Christina Hamilton: Thank you so much for joining today’s call. As a reminder, the Season 3 summer finale of, “Perception,” premieres Tuesday, August 19th at 10:00 pm, Eastern Time, Pacific Time on TNT. A transcript of this call will be available within 24 hours. Thank you, Eric, and thank you all for participating.

Eric McCormack: Thanks everybody.

Operator: This does conclude today’s program. Thanks for you participation. You may disconnect at any time.

Previous interview with Eric McCormack

"Dirty" – Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)

When Donnie finds himself in a compromising situation, he calls Pierce for help. As the evidence begins to stack against Donnie, Pierce and Moretti struggle with their own fears and doubts, as they work to solve the case. During the chaos, Pierce must deal with his father (guest star Peter Coyote) after he assaults someone at the assisted living facility.

Directed by LeVar Burton

Written by Jonathan Abrahams

Created by Ken Biller & Michael Sussman

Perception – Tuesdays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)


TNT's fascinating drama Perception features one of the most unique crime solvers on television, an eccentric neuroscience professor who is recruited by the FBI to help solve complex cases. Emmy® and Screen Actors Guild Award® winner Eric McCormack stars as Dr. Daniel Pierce, who possesses an intimate knowledge of human behavior and a masterful understanding of the way the mind works. Although Pierce's mind may be brilliant, it's also damaged as he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Rachael Leigh Cook stars as FBI agent Kate Moretti, Pierce’s former student who has recruited Pierce to consult on cases. Also starring are Arjay SmithKelly Rowan and LeVar Burton. In addition, Scott Wolf (Party of FiveVEverwood) is joining the cast as a regular this season, playing Donnie, Kate's ex-husband. Perception, which ranked as one of basic cable's Top 15 series of 2013, was created by Ken Biller and Michael Sussman, who serve as executive producers with Amanda Green. The series is produced by ABC Studios, with McCormack also serving as producer.

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