MacGyver is a cultural icon, the guy who can make a weapon out of two paperclips, some gum, and a half an old movie ticket. This fall, CBS will bring the creative survivor/government agent back to the small screen with a reboot featuring Lucas Till in the starring role. Till is best known for his role as Havok in the X-Men films, so having super-abilities shouldn’t be too unusual for the actor. Richard Dean Anderson‘s shoes are big ones to fill, however, so Till will have to find his own way to be campy and charming at the same time.
At San Diego Comic-Con Thursday afternoon, executive producers Peter Lenkov (R.I.P.D.) and James Wan (Saw, The Fast and the Furious) sat down with Till and co-star George Eads (CSI) to share more information about the show and some behind-the-scenes fun. Wan, for his part, was ecstatic to be able to share his love for the ’80s franchise.
“MacGyver’s such a different hero than what we see on TV these days,” Wan said. “He’s a great role model for today’s audience that we haven’t seen in a long time. He’s different, he’s creative and he’s intelligent.”
Till has no illusions about what fans want to see in a MacGyver reboot, but he’s happy about it.
“As long as I’m building an atom bomb out of a pineapple, that’s what (fans) want to see,” he joked. “He also had a different girl every episode which I would like to see.”
Whether or not the new MacGyver will live up to the Casanova love-life standards of the original is still up in the air, but the creators agreed that the hero’s reluctance to use violence will remain a part of the character.
“He’s a very positive character and he only resorts to violence if he has to,” Wan said.
The creators were also adamant that the various tricks and gags MacGyver uses are all based in reality.
“As writers, it’s fun writing this show. It lets you do a lot of interesting research and experiments in the office,” Lenkov said. “They all are real. They can be done, even if we don’t want people doing some of them.”
Lenkov knows that a MacGyver reboot isn’t an easy sell, and he expects many viewers to start the series with their arms crossed over their chests, their expectations low.
“We have to prove why this belongs on television,” he said. ” It’s the same ingredients (as the original show) – the humor, the heart, the action. We’re just trying to keep it alive.”
Fans at the convention were shown a brief clip of the series, which debuts this fall Fridays on CBS. The clip featured MacGyver climbing aboard an airplane as it traverses down a runway, holding onto the landing gear and using his handy pocket knife to cut wires and force the plane to land. During the sequence, he can be heard in a voiceover talking about when he first developed his fear of heights. It’s a little silly, but it’s fun and exciting in the same way that the original series was.
Fun and a tongue-in-cheek campiness will be important for the show to succeed, so the cast and crew have been having some fun of their own behind the scenes while shooting in Atlanta. While they bemoan the city’s notoriously hot and humid climate (Till cites the most difficult thing about shooting being his iconic leather jacket), they have been enjoying the southern city and spending time together on days off.
Eads, who plays MacGyver’s heavy-hitting comrade Jack Dalton, decided that the two of them should go down to the beach for the Fourth of July holiday. Unfortunately, there were no vacancies and they ended up renting a ramshackle boat that “looked and smelled like someone had been murdered in it.” After a trip to Target and some drinks, the two ended up becoming even closer.
“Waking your costar up with a crack of a beer in his ear, that’s a way to connect,” Eads said.
The crew is trying to connect with the history of the show as well, as they have reached out to Richard Dean Anderson for a possible role or cameo. It would be amazing to see the old and new MacGyvers onscreen together, but viewers will have to wait until fall to see if that happens, and just what they can make with two paper clips, a piece of chewed gum, and some moth balls.