Eric McCormack Interview On 'Perception,' Schizophrenia, Gay Marriage
Eric McCormack plays the paranoid schizophrenic neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Pierce, who helps the government solve criminal cases, on TNT's hot drama series Perception. “I’m amazed by some of the stuff the writers have come up with,” McCormack told Uinterview exclusively, "especially with this disease of the mind that can create really amazing mysteries."
Born and raised in Canada, McCormack describes himself as being shy when he was just a kid, but he took an interest in acting and enrolled in theater clases during high school. In 1986, he made his film debut in The Boys From Syracuse, but his breakthrough came with his role as the lawyer Will Truman in the sitcom Will & Grace, which broke barriers with its portrayal of a gay man in a leading TV role.
In the new season of Perception, Rachel Leigh Cook (She’s All That) joins the cast to add a romantic foil for Pierce. "Rachel’s one of those girls that she’s so pretty and petite that you’re amazed how funny she is," McCormack told Uinterview.“There was this one moment when Rachel came to me and said, ‘I want to show you this one other project I’m working on,’ and she showed me an [her real] ultrasound.”
Perception airs Fridays on TNT.
At the end of last season, he was in his bed and getting a little better. It looked like he was about to start dating his analyst, Caroline. As we started the season, that’s where he’s at. It’s all looking very healthy but that’s not going to last much beyond the first two acts of episode one. Like a lot of people who cycle through different medications to fight their disorder, he doesn’t like how he feels on it. And there’s not much of a series with him in bed. Now, in episode one, we’re back to the Pierce we know. But there is a romance in the story for him despite his condition and there are some amazing cases this year. I’m amazed by some of the stuff the writers have come up with, especially with this disease of the mind that can create really amazing mysteries.
I’m going to collapse into a heap. I am going to recede. My mind needs a rest. I’m going to be in Vancouver. We spend the summers in Vancouver and that’s where we go to relax in the fall. I’m not sure yet. There are a couple of projects that could happen, but mostly I’m hoping that we are all ready by September and gear up to do yet-another year of Perception.
Oh, he was virtually married in the series finale. I virtually got married to Taye Diggs on the show, and I virtually married Bobby Cannavale on the show. Will was a reflection of our co-creator Max Mutchnick, who was a guy who wanted to find the right guy and that’s what Max has done and that’s definitely what Will would be doing now.
Rachel’s one of those girls that she’s so pretty and petite that you’re amazed how funny she is. She’s a very funny girl and we laugh a lot, and then there’s her ex-husband played by Scott Wolf on the show, so the three of us laugh quite a bit. Well there was this one moment when she came to me and said, ‘I want to show you this one other project I’m working on,’ and she showed me an ultrasound. That’s a good one. Now we’re in our last four weeks of shooting right now where she’s having to carry files all the time and adjust things to cover up the impending child.
There’ve been a few. There’s an episode called “Kelodiscope,” in which in order to communicate with a kid who doesn’t talk anymore because he is so lost in this video game that you get completely involved in. I pretty much had to go into the video game. I had to create my own avatar and go communicate with him that way, so Pierce is basically in a karaoke bar but he is completely not real. It’s strictly based on screen and yet we go into his mind, and we see what he could see. He gets so lost in the reality of it too, that we get to see him in this karaoke bar.
Well, it’s been ongoing. We shot the pilots of the leads almost three years ago. At the time, I did a lot of reading on schizophrenia. And we have our consultant on the show named David Eagleman. The most helpful to me was an amazing woman called Elyn Saks, who was a professor of law. She was a paranoid schizophrenic in the 70’s and had been battling it but has been so high functioning, she has succeeded as an academic, as a writer and as a teacher. She’s shown an example of how high functioning a paranoid schizophrenic can be. You can live a life like this. So studying her and the things she has said about her highs and her lows were probably the most helpful.
They wouldn’t seem to have much in common, but they do in a weird way. Will obviously could be very social. But what I think made him funnier, that made him endearing, was his awkwardness. He was a good-looking lawyer, but he couldn’t get a date and he would screw it up when he did. I think it’s the same thing here. While Pierce has brilliant in front of the classroom, he can be just be a complete nightmare in a situation where he is uncomfortable, at a crime scene, in a social situation, anywhere that’s crowded. So I think it’s always for me, it’s the mix of what it takes for somebody who is very confident to lose all of that, just that combination.
We’re still filming. We’re doing 14 episodes and we’ve just about finished 12, so we still have two more to go in the next three weeks. I think we’re going to show a block of 10 in the summer and save four for the winter to kind of tease hopefully into yet another year.
Well, years ago, we used to go to the same cottage every year that we rented. It was the same one every year, in Buchanan Lake in Ontario and just swimming and campfires and cabins. Thatâs very much what my wife and I connected on when we first met. So, I would have to say, summers at the lake for sure.