Perception is now on GREAT! tv on weekdays, so to celebrate we caught up with its star Eric McCormack to talk about how he prepared for the role, what drew him to the character when he first saw the script and of course which females have shaped him into the person he is today. 

Eric McCormack in Perception

Eric McCormack in Perception

Please can you tell us about the premise for Perception and who you play.

I am Dr. Daniel Pierce, a brilliant neuroscience professor living with schizophrenia. My old student, Kate Morretti, now works for the FBI and calls on my expertise when a case involves mental illness.

How did you prepare for the role of a neuropsychiatrist? Did you get to spend any time with a professional in the field?

My biggest help came from Dr Elyn Saks, who is herself a brilliant college professor living with schizophrenia. Her book, “The Center Cannot Hold” was my bible when it came to finding depth and truth in my performance.

What drew you to the role when you first read the script?

Because of Pierce’s condition, he can be fearless in his opinions, but terrified of his own shadow. He lacks an understanding of propriety or social norms, so he’s unpredictable and sometimes really funny, whether he means to be or not. There’s a lot of freedom in that.

Given the longevity of the TV shows you have worked on, are they more difficult to move on from than when you shoot a movie?

I love playing a character for many years, especially when the writers are able to keep the show fresh and the characters growing. I’m always really sad to say goodbye. Walking away from Pierce was tough. I miss putting on that coat!

You work alongside some very talented female actors in Kelly Rowan and Rachael Leigh Cook on the show, so did you admire their work before you began this project together?

I’d known Kelly from Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years, and pitched her to our creator, Ken Biller, when we were casting. She has this serenity, this quiet beauty I thought was so right for the character. Rachael I didn’t know, but we were pals instantly. She’s one of the funniest people I know. Adore her!

As we are called Female First, we are always interested to know which females have shaped you into the person you are today and who are the most important females in your life right now?

Well, my mother was wonderful, completely supportive and encouraging. I miss her so much.

I’ve always had a lot of female friends, and my assistant Michelle is a dear friend I rely on completely. But the biggest influence, without a doubt, is my wife, Janet. We’ve been together twenty eight years, which kinda blows my mind. Our son has left for college, so we’re really rediscovering each other in this next phase.

Which female actors have you enjoyed working with the most?

SO many. Leah Cairns and Kristine Cofsky on Travelers, Deb Messing and Blythe Danner on Will & Grace, Archie Panjabi on Departure and my dear Rachael on Perception. And I adore Kerry Butler, who I did Broadway with.

What is next for you?

I’m playing a fantastic villain in a series called Slasher, shooting in my hometown, Toronto. It’s a turn-of-the-century gothic horror story and I am the cruel bastard that runs the city with an iron fist. Can’t wait!

You can watch Perception, weekdays at 1pm on GREAT! tv, available on Freeview 50, Sky 157, Virgin 189 and Freesat 142.

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