Why playing the new MacGyver a ‘badge of honor’ for Lucas Till
Lucas Till may only be 28, but he has a body of work that boasts collaborations with exciting celebrities who are as well-liked as the iconic character he portrays in the “MacGyver” reboot, which is set to wrap up its third season in March.
The first time Lucas was asked to do the show, he knew he had big shoes to fill. “I couldn’t really assess how I was faring the whole year we were shooting the first season, because we had 80-hour, 90-hour weeks,” he told us in an interview. “I couldn’t see what was going on, which was good, in a way, because there was so much pressure in it.
“Every interview I did, they’d ask me if I were up to the task of filling those shoes. And I’d say, ‘Let me try. If you don’t like it, just change the channel.’ But people seemed to like it after I got done with it. It’s kind of like going to war—we worked hard for it. So, for viewers to accept me as the young Angus MacGyver, that’s a badge of honor in itself!”
Lucas is no stranger to facing challenges head-on. This has allowed people to see him beyond his blond-and-blue eyed appeal. One of the things that keeps him focused is yoga, because it’s the kind of role that requires discipline. “One moment of weakness and the show will crush me,” he explained with a grin. “The first year was the stuff of legend, but we made it through—and it’s been so much fun thereafter.”
His big-screen debut topbilled Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line,” followed by his diverse starrers with Miley Cyrus (“Hannah Montana: The Movie”) and Jackie Chan (“The Spy Next Door”).
For the teenage set, Lucas is best remembered as Taylor Swift’s boy-next-door love interest in the music video for “You Belong with Me.” But he also held his own as the powerful mutant Havok in three installments of the vastly popular “X-Men” franchise: “First Class” (2011), “Days of Future Past” (2014) and “Apocalypse” (2016).
Stardom wasn’t handed to Lucas on a silver platter, however. He began doing commercials at age 10, then played the lead character’s bully in “The Adventures of Ociee Nash” when he was 12.
“I’ve been acting since I was a kid. I was 18 when I moved to LA, from [my hometown in] Atlanta, Georgia,” he recalled. “Like my first year as MacGyver, it wasn’t easy. I had no friends, and it was two years before I wasn’t depressed anymore. You know it’ll get better as long as you stay sane and work hard.
“My aunt moved to LA with me, which was great, but over time, you realize that the other actors in your world are going through the same thing. They let you know you’re not crazy, after all (laughs)—and things will be fine.”
When we asked Lucas what the most difficult thing was about a role that looked rigorous and physically daunting, he said, “The most difficult thing was waking up at 4:45 a.m. every day for 10 months (laughs)! That was not cool, but I got used to it. But the cast and crew were very supportive of me. All I ever felt from them was love, and I am lucky because it doesn’t always work out that way.”
Lucas eventually got the hang of it and found his groove as the new MacGyver. “There was a lot of trial and error initially,” Lucas admitted. “Someone would say, ‘That isn’t good enough, and I’d say, ‘OK, there’s a more sensitive way of saying that. People had a lot of expectations going into the reboot. It’s like doing another installment of ‘Star Wars’—it’ll always be hard to meet people’s expectations of it. They want to appeal to fans.
“In the beginning, I was trying to be him (Richard Dean Anderson, who portrayed MacGyver in seven seasons, from 1985 to 1992). Not a good idea (laughs). I was born in 1990. It was like threading a needle. Thankfully, we worked out all the kinks. I had no choice but to man up and be a leader.
“But I’m here—I’ve got to do the job and get it done. And hopefully, people like it. You take what’s important to them and add your personality to it. It got to a point where I told everyone to shut up. I have to do my own thing—and that was when people started saying that the show got better (laughs)!”
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