Exclusive: MacGyver star Lucas Till on series ending

(Lucas Till)

Tonight, we will see the five-year run of the hit CBS series MacGyver come to an end. Given the large amount of fans who begged and petitioned the network to reconsider their decision, this is certainly a sad day.

Reel 360 was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit and chat with Lucas Till, star of MacGyver. Before we spoke, I really held the actor in high esteem. Now, I know for sure Lucas is inspiring human being and I admire him even more.

Lucas was born on August 10, 1990, in Fort Hood, Texas. He’s the son of Dana Lyn (née Brady), a chemist by profession and John Mark Till, a colonel in the Army. During our conversation, Lucas made it clear that he had the full support of his mother and father to pursue his acting dreams.

Lucas signed with his first agent when he was 11 and then moved to LA when he was older. All of his hard work paid off as he booked roles in the award-winning Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line. He played son, Jack.

He soon followed with roles in Disney’s Hannah Montana: The Movie, X-Men: First Class, X: Men Days of Future Pat and X-Men: Apocalypse. Those roles brought to the attention of CBS execs and Lucas was as Angus MacGyver in the reboot of the 1980’s series.

Lucas, congratulations on a great run. How did you feel when you heard the show was canceled?

Honestly it was such a difficult experience in so many ways. MacGyver was the most magical and formative experiences that I’ve had. Because of my experience on the show, my work ethic is different. I approach things completely different as an adult. So, it was hard hearing we weren’t coming back for a sixth season.

We did a Zoom call that Tristin Mays (Riley) requested showrunner Monica Macer ( who replaced showrunner Peter Lenkov in 2020), organize. We wanted to say goodbye. Of course we are never going to say goodbye forever. We will always hang out because it was a wonderful group of people. I’m not just saying that, we all got along as family. It was a pretty heartbreaking Zoom call.

I have heard the entire MacGyver team is amazing – so united and so caring. After five years together most of the time, it does become like a family, right?

Absolutely, I was thinking about that this morning. It’s like when I was in high school. It’s not Kindergarten or elementary school where your parents are helping you. It’s kind of like college, but even colleges are looser because you only go to class for a couple hours a day. And you don’t go every day. But this is a job I wake up for at 3:30 am every Monday morning and then you keep going until Friday.

You’re doing this same routine day in and day out and you’re doing homework (reading scripts) every single day. It’s like trying to get your doctorate, but you spend anywhere between 40 and 90 hours a week. But you’re spending it with people nine months out of the year for five years. All of my late ’20s were on this show.

(Lucas Till, Tristin Mays)

How did production change with COVID?

It was tough. We had to shut down twice. It was the best way it could have happened, but it was still tough because if you shut down they (the crew) have to scramble.  Our crew still gets paid intermittently. But instead of three days to rest, everything gets crammed into concentrated work weeks. 

We were doing stuff we’ve never done before as far as workload and it definitely took a toll. What’s crazy is I think we made the best episodes of all five years in the middle of a pandemic!

Wow! So did you get tested all the time?

Oh yeah Monday mornings, you have to show up 30 minutes before. Especially the cast. Because with the weekend, you can’t really account for what people did, so safety wise we would test.

We’d come in 30 minutes before and do a rapid test, wait 30 minutes and then after we were cleared, we would get other tests. Every day something got stuck up your nose.

Did you guys know MacGyver was being canceled?

No, we didn’t. In fact, we thought this is crazy. It was like the end of a movie. On the last day, I was looking around and I really wanted to come back. Then I saw people hanging out, making freeze frames and then I would heard voiceovers like:  “… and ten years later she would win the Cinematographers Guild…”

I realized it was like the last day of a shoot to a season. I was like if this is the last day, I need to take this in. I don’t know why I felt that way.  We were so happy. We had accomplished everything, we had grown so much, jumping over obstacles.

And the hurdles were teachers. Congratulations you’ve learned everything you can here, now it’s time to move on. That hit me in the last couple of hours.

Going back to the beginning, did you have to audition for MacGyver or were you invited?

Nah, I had to audition four times. I remember coming in a couple of times and doing some chemistry reads with some people opposite me. But that was for the pilot which never aired.  They filmed the pilot and they fired everybody except for me and another actor.

It’s crazy there’s a whole missing pilot that never saw the light. Thank God. I don’t think it turned out that well. Yeah, so I think I auditioned four times though.

How did you feel when you got the role? Did you know the show was going to be a success?

I tend to not think about those things, because you have no control over it. So, why get excited which will lead you to getting upset later? So, it’s something I never think about.

You are playing character that has already been established, so you don’t know if people are going to except you.  I tried to put that out of my mind as well. I just put my head down and did the work.

It’s useless to let the unknown of a situation dictate how you feel about yourself..

Do you have an episode or season that you like the most?

I think this season, we have done a lot that I love. It’s a combination of storytelling, performances from our actors. Our showrunner Monica Macer said, “we got the meat off the bones with our actors.”

We had an episode this year where Murdock, played by David Strathairn (Nomadland), and general Ma, played by Joe Pantoliano come together. Season five are some of the best episodes we’ve had. They represent the best combination of storytelling, cinematography, and performances!

Have your parents always been supportive of your acting?

I was very lucky, or at least if they weren’t I had no idea. My mom took me to every audition when I was a kid. She really was responsible for everything.

I will say my dad was always kind of take it or leave it, but when I started doing MacGyver then he really started paying attention, so that’s pretty cool!

Did they come to the set?

Oh yeah. Actually my dad helped with an episode – the one where Jack dies. He was the technical advisor because we had to do a military and Army funeral. He made sure everyone’s uniforms were right and actually got to appear in the episode. We were both in uniform together, so it was pretty cool.

What is your funniest memory of the show?

There’s an episode where I had to wear this suit because the pressure was so great where I was going and I had to keep it from crushing my body. I had to wear this a motorcycle helmet and pads. There was a big suit underneath that suit. And I had to wear a  zip up “onesie.” It was so hot. I told Tristan: would you zip that down and open it up and I totally forgot that I wasn’t wearing any underwear.

She did and I was no.. don’t go that far…I was like Oh my God … Lol…

What are your new projects?

Well since the announcement was just a couple of days ago, I am sure I will take few minutes to figure that out. But I am looking forward to the future.

I want to take all of this wonderful experience to a polished version of myself and take it to the next projects.

But I do have something that I can’t talk about now.

The MacGyver will air Friday at 8 p.m. PT/ET on CBS.

Reel 360 Foreign Correspondent Aymara Limma was born in Rio de Janeiro and is known as “The Brazilian Firecracker” because of her incredible energy and passion.