Exclusive ‘Perception’ Interview: Eric McCormack On Pierce’s Stint in Paris, An Upcoming Family Reunion and More

Perception Season 3 Episode 2 Painless (2)

Perception is back for its third season and TV Equals recently chatted with star Eric McCormack about last week’s spectacular Paris set premiere, what is ahead for Pierce this summer and much more. You can catch an all-new episode of Perception tonight, Tuesday, June 24th at 10PM ET/PT on TNT. In the meantime, check out our interview with the always eloquent Mr. McCormack.

TV Equals: Last season ended with a pretty big cliffhanger thanks to Pierce quitting his job and moving to Paris. What was your reaction to having the premiere take place in Paris?

Eric McCormack: Well, when Ken Miller, who created the show, plopped me down in Paris at the end of season, I said that’s fun and then I go home, right? He goes, what if he didn’t? What if he stayed in Paris? And I said, green screen Paris? He said no, let’s go to Paris.

So we begin season three and he is unemployed and loving it. At least he thinks he thinks he is loving it. But as we know with Pierce, he needs a purpose, he needs a routine, he needs the things he knows– so very quickly, in the streets of Paris, Pierce began to lose his mind.

The first episode it is one my favorite episodes we have, not only because we were in Paris, but because I truly get to go down that path that so often happens with people who are living with paranoid schizophrenia, which is the paranoid part of it. The part that believes they are being followed, that believes the government is tracking their every move and cares about what they are doing.

TV Equals: From your perspective, how has Pierce changed since you began playing him?

Eric McCormack: That’s a good question. With a part like this, you can’t come in half baked. It was very crucial to me that I got him right in the pilot because I didn’t want the mental health community saying, “Nope, nope that’s not it.” So I did a lot of work and I sort of presented him as here’s the guy, this is how he behaves, these are his symptoms, here are his ticks, and yet there has to be growth.

I think he has changed, particularly this season as the viewers will see this summer, this Paris experience and this idea of doing something out of the box—and he does something out of the box everyday by leaving his home and helping Kate solve crimes—but the idea of quitting his job and going to a foreign country and allowing himself to fall in love with Miranda up front (we’ll see how that pans out) opens him up and I think he will come back to the University and he will be a bit changed. There will be a more daring guy there, someone who will be a bit more risky with his feelings and not so guarded.

It’s about hoping and trusting that Pierce is smart enough to find his way through not just to solve crimes, but to find his way through his own life. But knowing at the same time with the serious condition he has, it is possible he could just go off.

TV Equals: Can you tease anything about the upcoming cases or guest stars?

Eric McCormack: There’s an exorcism episode, believe it or not, which I love. We did one in season one in which Pierce is having a debate with Joan of Arc in his mind. And this time around there is a woman with what they call a Teratoma, a very rare condition where she believes and the people around her believe, she is possessed. It allows Pierce to have this ongoing religious debate with the devil.

We get to meet Pierce’s father, who is played brilliantly by Peter Coyote and Pierce’s father has Alzheimer’s. So there is a wonderful running story throughout the summer where I am dealing with my own condition and my very arrogant father, who I haven’t spoken to in three years and he comes to me because he has a mental condition. It’s kind of like the blind leading the blind.

TV Equals: What was like for you working with Mr. Coyote and developing that father son relationship?

Eric McCormack: The main thing with television is unlike a movie script where you read it and you know everything, with a television character it becomes personal because you don’t know what is going to happen to them anymore than you know what is going to happen to you in your life. So to suddenly find out that his father who has only been alluded to and was very distant was going to show up and was going to be very similar to Pierce—they have a tremendous father/son connection they have ignored for 20 years.

The casting of something like that is crucial. I didn’t know Peter from before, but it turned out to be there are moments where the way he moves- it is incredibly believable I think. We had a really great connection.

TV Equals: If you could spend a day with Pierce, what would you do and what would you tell him?

Eric McCormack: I would probably take him to Vegas and tell him to lighten up. I would hold his hand and make sure he felt safe and then I would say we’re going to have fun, smile, let’s go to a strip club and for once—I know it’s dangerous for you—for once, have a beer.

Perception Season 3 Episode 1 Paris (1)

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