Revamping a classic show like MacGyver can be a lot of pressure. George Eads, who plays Jack Dalton, partner to Mac (Lucas Till), will be the first to tell you about the “tossing and turning” he did during the simultaneously exciting and petrifying production of the show’s first season. But after the show’s successful first year, George is feeling more comfortable and adventurous. George spoke to CBS Local about what we can expect from tonight’s premiere, how he’s inspired by his family and co-stars, and why Lucas Till’s ability to memorize a complex string of scientific equations impressed him so much.
CBS Local: Season 2 of MacGyver premieres tonight. That’s super exciting. How was shooting this season different from the first season?
George Eads: With the first season of any television series, especially before it airs, you’re not really sure what you have. There’s a lot of heads in the huddle and a lot of people who think they know the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do. You’re really trying to throw a bunch of spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. I felt the pressure of knowing that we spent hours remaking an iconic show, one of my favorites. And then once it comes out, you get a sense of your character and what’s going on. You get to look at it from the third person. It helps. I used to not watch that much of myself. But I’ve been watching, studying, and kind of seeing how I can make Jack evolve. I’m bringing as much of my personal experience to the role with my own father who passed, as I give advice to Mac about his dad. I’ve got a three year old little girl, that changes you as a man. And you know, I’ve been away from her, which is kind of a cool source of drama for me when I need to get serious. You know, you just think about your three year old little and the drama seems to comes pretty easy. And comedy comes pretty easy with Lucas [Till]. Lucas is a pretty good dude and he’s a funny and fun guy. He wants to do a great job. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves not to repeat ourselves and make it as good as possible.
It sounds like you’re really coming into yourselves with season 2 and focusing on how you can top yourselves rather than living with the pressure of the original series.
GE: It’s the truth, man. I tossed and turned and didn’t sleep a lot last year. I put a lot of pressure on myself to not only do a good job, but, you know, this is another go-around with me and CBS, and CBS is banking on me to deliver. Having that pressure relieved, you’re able to ease into work and be looser and more relaxed. I know that if improv some scenes, they’ll go for it, whereas last year I wasn’t so sure if I should think outside the box. Creative lead Peter Lenkov has been an awesome guy to work for. He encourages us to go for it and we have been. The feedback has been tremendous.
Mac and Jack’s bromance is still going strong. How do you and Lucas keep the magic going on and off the screen?
GE: Me and Lucas are just good friends. It starts with respect. When you spend as much time as we do on the set with one another, he knows how hard it is for me, and I know how difficult the show can be for him. We try to pick each other up, bring each other a protein shake, or take a break if one of us needs one. There’s been times when I’ve been missing my daughter so bad that I’ll be in an emotional state, and Lucas will hold up production until we can talk it out and maybe even cry it out in the trailer. I confide in him as a close friend, and I think he’s done the same for me. I’ve gotten to know his mom and dad and his brothers. When you spend a lot of time working, you cross your fingers that you’re gonna like each other, and we’ve just been lucky when it comes to that. And the more our friendship evolves, the more our characters do too.
The team is in Cuba on tonight’s first episode. What kind of action can we expect in the premiere?
GE: In the teaser alone, there’s a huge fistfight. We find ourselves in Cuba. There’s an introduction of a new character this season, Isabel Lucas, who’s gonna be coming on who’s fantastic. I love when you catch Mac and Jack in the first of an episode trying to get out of a tight spot from a mission and then going into another one. Instead of the show starting in the war room with a mission, we find Jack and Mac mid-acquisition or mid-mission, already in a pickle. It’s a fun way to hit the ground running. I know a lot of shows take a while to pick up a little steam, but ours tend to make a splash right away. It’s a fun way to keep everything moving forward. Hopefully that hour flies by and you go, “Wow, it’s already over.” That to me is a sign that you’ve got a great show. I think if you look at last season, a lot of our episodes are really rewatchable, and you kind of get more the second time around. I think a lot of people find themselves watching them twice because they’ve missed things the first time.
What’s been your favorite MacGyver problem-solving moment?
GE: So many! The thing about for me, if I speak and think like Jack, Jack’s impressed with his creativity, impressed with the fact that he doesn’t believe in guns. He uses his creative mind and his smarts to get out of these situations. You’re definitely going to find him making things out of paperclips. But at the same time, he writes a scientific equation on a window in front of me. I was marveled that Lucas could remember that and do it, and at how hard he had worked to get everything locked down well. To see him perform it was probably one of the most impressive scenes that I’ve seen so far this year.
We’re looking forward to watching the new season. Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk.
GE: I’m really humbled, it’s going to be fantastic. Thanks a lot!
Season 2 of MacGyver premieres tonight at 8/7c on CBS. Check your local listings for more information.