MacGyver interview: Peter M. Lenkov on Jack’s exit, Desi’s addition, Murdoc’s return

MacGyverNow is a pretty eventful time to be a MacGyver fan. The show’s coming back on CBS with a new episode on March 15, and over the next couple of weeks, you’re going to have a chance to see more of newcomer Desi Nguyen (Levy Tran). Meanwhile, the April 5 episode is going to feature the return of both David Dastmalchain (Murdoc) and Michael Des Barres (Nicholas Helman) — the two baddies are back! It’s just not going to happen in the same exact way that you’d think.

(Update: This piece originally had MacGyver returning Friday, but that has since been delayed due to an interview special. The Murdoc episode was originally scheduled March 15.)

If you missed it, at the bottom of this article we share some of our thoughts on Desi’s debut in our latest video! Remember to subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube for more videos all about the show! Just to make sure you don’t miss any other updates, we have a MacGyver playlist that is also worthy of a bookmark.

Recently, we posted an interview with show executive producer Peter M. Lenkov talking about the joint PaleyFest event featuring MacGyver as well as Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum PI. This is the second part of that interview, but this time we are talking exclusively about all things Phoenix Foundation! We hadn’t had a good MacGyver-centric interview with Peter in a while, and here we touch on some important subjects including writing out George Eads’ character of Jack, adding Desi to the mix, and the specific reason why Murdoc is coming back into the fold.

CarterMatt – From the outside looking in, it didn’t seem like the exit of George was planned out at the start of the season and, correct me if I’m wrong, that there were some adjustments you had to make on the fly. So when that exit happens and you realize that you have to find someone else come in and play a different character, what are you thinking? How do you plan for something when you may be having to change up what your other plans were?

Peter M. Lenkov – Honestly, I wasn’t sure that George would even be back this season. I sort of, in the back of my mind, had a plan B or an ‘in case of emergency’ idea as to how to sort of shift gears a little bit. The most important thing was that we didn’t kill off his character, giving him the chance that, if it worked out, there’s always that door left open, even if he’s not going to be a part of the main dynamic anymore. Also, making sure that whatever void is left behind is filled with someone who was very different and equally as likable.

And that’s the approach that I saw with Desi right away — you didn’t get in someone that would be thought of as another Jack. Was there something when you saw Levy Tran that made you realize she was someone you wanted to write for?

I saw her reel and thought she was amazing. She had read for it, we met in my office, and she had a great personality and seemed really physical. She does a lot of those stunts herself. She’s a utility player — she can do comedy, drama, action. She’s just really good.

How do you work to implement someone like her into the rest of the season? There aren’t too many episodes left, so how much backstory do you try to include?

If you watch the show pretty regularly, there’s going to be something in just about every episode that peels back layers as to who she is and a little bit of backstory. The idea was to do it over the last batch of episodes, but she also comes in with this attitude of ‘I’m not even sure I’m going to be staying here, so I don’t want you guys to get to know me and I don’t want to get too close to you guys’ because if something happens, she doesn’t want to get too close emotionally.

I know later this month, David [Dastmalchian] is coming back along with Michael Des Barres and we’re getting another battle with the baddies. What’s the impetus behind seeing them again this time?

Besides more screen time for both (laughs)? They’re just so good. The story itself is really interesting and has some great turns. It’s not them running from Helman, Michael’s character. In this case, it’s Murdoc helping them catch Helman.

Is it tough finding spots for David these days? I feel like he’s always got like eight movies and four different shows going (laughs).

It’s impossible! Every time there is a little hole or daylight in his schedule, we try to grab it.

Want to preview the next new MacGyver episode in particular?

You can do that by venturing over to the link here! We’ll, of course, have more coverage after it airs.

What are you hoping to see on MacGyver coming up this season? Share in the comments. (Photo: CBS.)

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