Why Lucas Till Was Born to Play MacGyver

The actor opens up about how his mother's and father's careers helped make him the perfect candidate for CBS' upcoming reboot.
Ron P. Jaffe/CBS

Lucas Till, the star of CBS' forthcoming MacGyver reboot, shouldn't have any trouble stepping into the iconic role. It's practically in his DNA.

As it turns out, the 25-year-old is the son of a chemist and an Army lieutenant colonel, which gives him a bit of an advantage taking on the character of Angus "Mac" McGyver once made famous by Richard Dean Anderson. In CBS' reimagining of the franchise, which originally ran on ABC from 1985 to 1992, MacGyver is described as a young man who creates a clandestine organization within the U.S. government in which he uses his extraordinary talent for unconventional problem-solving and vast scientific knowledge to save lives.

"My dad's nickname was MacGyver when we were kids," Till told a small group of reporters at a luncheon Monday. "He'd hijack my projects all the time. When I got older, he would not do it as much … but he would just end up hijacking the whole thing. You should see the look in his eyes when he gets to create stuff."

For Till, landing the lead role on MacGyver comes after spending most of his career thus far in films. He got his start playing a young Johnny Cash in Walk the Line and most recently portrayed mutant Havok in X-Men: Apocalypse. He's set to topline Paramount's hybrid live action/computer animation film Monster Trucks.

The actor's upbringing has already proven to be helpful on set. "In the pilot, we have to say a lot of chemistry terms. [Producers] were like, 'You sound like you really know what you're talking about,'" Till said. "It's because my mom does not stop talking about it."

That knowledge will soon come in handy once again when Till and the rest of the team regroup to reshoot the pilot for the series, which is slated to premiere this fall. The original pilot landed MacGyver a series pickup but ultimately ended up on the cutting-room floor. James Wan (The Conjuring 2) will take over to helm the second incarnation, replacing original director David Von Ancken. (Wan was originally set to direct the pilot but had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts.)

In addition to switching directors, there have been some changes in the writers room. The script was first written by R. Scott Gemmill (NCIS: Los Angeles). However, CBS then ordered the project to pilot with new writers Paul Downs Colaizzo (the CBS pilot LFE) and Brett Mahoney (Code Black) onboard. When MacGyver scored a series picked up in May, Hawaii Five-0's Peter Lenkov also entered as a writer and executive producer. CBS Television Studios and Lionsgate Television will co-produce.

Till and CSI alum George Eads, who plays maverick CIA agent Jack Dalton, are the only castmembers from the original pilot that remain. The new version includes Justin Hires (Rush Hour) taking on the role of MacGyver's ambitious roommate, Wilt Bozer.

MacGyver will air Fridays at 8 p.m. on CBS this fall.

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