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July 08, 2012

Interview: Eric McCormack previews new show 'Perception' premiering July 9th on TNT

Eric McCormack is returning to television in the new TNT summer drama “Perception,” premiering Monday, 9th. Starring in the drama with Eric are Rachael Leigh Cook, Arjay Smith, Kelly Rowan and LeVar Burton.

In "Perception," McCormack plays Dr. Daniel Pierce, an eccentric neuroscience professor with paranoid schizophrenia who is recruited by the FBI to help solve complex cases. Cook plays Kate Moretti, his former student and FBI agent who gets him to join her in solving cases.

“I was a big ‘Paper Chase’ fan from the 70s with John Housman,” the actor told reporters on what drew him to the role. “And the idea of playing not just a neuroscientist not just somebody brilliant, but the fact that he is a teacher, that he’s funny and passionate and finds an interesting way to approach what could be a very dry topic. I love this guy. “

In the premiere episode, airing July 9th at 10pm on TNT, Daniel is recruited by a former student, FBI Agent Kate Moretti to help out on a case involving the death of a pharmaceutical executive. But Daniel's schizophrenic hallucinations could potentially derail the investigation.

“He is often crippled by symptoms of schizophrenia,” McCormack says on his character’s challenges. He also pondered what aspects of his personality or idiosyncrasies he brought to the role of Daniel.

“What I love about him like I say is that combination of so much confidence and so much crippling fear. And I think if there is anything that I can understand as an actor is, I think it’s that.”

In his first journey as a producer, the actor credits show creators, Ken Biller and Mike Sussman for producing an incredible show.

“I am a producer on the show I’m certainly not the producer. I couldn’t produce the whole thing and be in every scene. The guys that created the show do a fine job at producing it creatively and there are some great guys producing it physically.
“I wanted to make sure that we all conceived the look and feel of the character and we’re on the same page. I wanted to have a say in the casting and I was certainly in the room for the casting of Rachael, Kelly and Arjay. I’m really excited how that worked out.

On working on "Will & Grace" and which he likes more, Eric says, “It's like I said before with stage and screen it’s kind of the same thing. I love doing both. When I was on “Will & Grace,” nothing made me happier than having a big dramatic scene with Debra Messing in the mists of the crazy comedy.  And nothing gives me a bigger better thrill than, you know, a dramatic crime scene in this show where he gets to suddenly say something inappropriate that clearly is going to be funny. I love the mix. I think the magic is in the combination and I’m never happy with just one. “

Having come from a popular on screen paring with Debra Messing as Grace, one can’t help but wonder what Daniel’s relationship will be like with female co-star Rachael Leigh Cook’s character Kate.  Although the premise of the show is learning who Daniel is, McCormack hopes that viewers will like the relationship between Daniel and Kate as well. 
"I’m really hoping that the viewership of TNT, that the particular women watching get into this relationship as its a very much what I call a 'don’t stand so close to me' teacher/student relationship" the actor says.

"She clearly was his favorite back in the day and now she’s all grown up and she’s - even though she’s considerably younger than him, she’s in her 30s and, you know, she’s fair game.
But there’s something about the combination of well I used to be your teacher and also the emotional detachment that you see with his condition that he feels - even though he definitely has feelings for her he doesn’t feel worthy, he doesn’t feel he's emotionally equipped. There's this episode coming up one of the early ones where I meet her father who's an ex-Chicago cop. The moment he says, ‘Oh I remember you, you were the teacher she had the big crush on.’ All of a sudden it’s like so maybe …. I love that. I think that the audience will start to see… we don’t push it too much early on, but over the course of ten episodes there’s definitely feelings there on both sides they don’t know what to do with. “

The actor thinks viewers will like Rachael in the role. The actress who is known mostly for starring in independent movies,  is making her first venture into television. 

"[Rachael] is going to be a big surprise I think to people. Mostly on this show she has to be the FBI detective. I remember Jodi Foster in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ where she’s like 5 feet tall and she's standing with all these big uniformed cops and they’re all staring at her like, 'You work for the FBI?'  And I think we’re going to get that sense with Rachael that - as much as I have emotional things to overcome and I have my condition to overcome, she has her position in the FBI…. a pretty, short girl at the FBI that’s not going to get taken seriously by the bosses. So bringing me in, helping me help her, is a big part of her emotional choice.”

“Perception” premieres Monday, July 9th at 10pm.
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