When we last left Dr. Daniel Pierce at the end of Season 1 of “Perception,” he’d gone back on his medication and begun to form a relationship with Caroline, the woman who imaginary Natalie had been based on. As we pick back with Daniel in the start of Season 2 (premiering Tuesday, June 25), the man who portrays him tells us that it’s going to be a struggle for the good doctor to stay on his meds.
“I heard the greatest quote very recently from Dr. Elyn Saks, who’s been sort of my role model for the part,” Eric McCormack told reporters during a recent set visit. “She’s a USC professor who has paranoid schizophrenia — but she is on her meds — but she just got married. She just found love for the first time in 55 years. She said, with regards to meds, she may have been quoting someone else. She said, ‘You take away my demons, you take away my angels, too.’ I think that is the basic premise for this character is.”
He adds, “When he’s healthy, there’s no Natalie. There’s none of the good stuff that comes with madness, to be honest. With his own madness comes him with all of his joie de vivre and, on meds, he says even in the pilot, he said, ‘I can’t stand how I feel. I feel put down.’ And that’s what happens with a lot of people living with the disorder is they feel relief, but then they don’t feel like them, and so it’s not just a kind of a television thing to do. It’s a very real cycle, a roller coaster that a lot of people living with the disease go through, and it’s very true to him, I think. He thinks he can almost outsmart it and as long as he’s got Lewicki and he’s got his meals at the right time, he can ride this thing like a bull.”
McCormack admits that he feels more confident in the character this season, but there’s still a concern over knowing just what it is he’s talking about when he’s playing Daniel. “I went into Season 2 a lot more sure of the choices I was making,” he says. “I think the writing this year is great, I’m really excited about some of the – With a premise like this, you go, ‘Okay. How long can we do this? How many famous people am I gonna hallucinate?’ In every script, I’m really surprised by how clever these guys are and how much deeper the writing is, particularly with regards to this, and how much more integrated the crimes and his personal story have been married. It’s just some really strong stuff this year, so I have the confidence with that. I trust the vehicle I’m driving, but there’s always a desire to make sure I know what the hell I’m talking about, so there’s an ongoing research.”
When asked if the actor has a favorite case this season, he immediately offers up the season’s fifth episode, entitled “Caleidoscope.” The episode focuses on a kid who has witnessed a crime, but hasn’t spoken in five years because he’s lost in an avatar-based Internet game that shares a name with the episode.
“So, the only way to communicate with him is to create avatars of our own. And that’s — some really fun s*** ensues,” McCormack teases. Because I’m virtually a Luddite when it comes to a lot of, not when it comes to neuroscience, but when it comes to social media and the social interaction stuff. He doesn’t even know what iTunes is. There’s a very funny scene where Lewicki creates my avatar that’s my favorite thing I think I’ve shot with Arjay [Smith]. There’s some great stuff in there.”
For McCormack, the 14 episode season (split with 10 airing this summer and 4 airing over the winter) isn’t enough of a good thing. “We’re just finishing the tenth episode today. I live across the street, so this is not like being out of town, where you’re feeling it. I just want to keep going. I want to do 25. That’s a good feeling.”
Season 2 of “Perception” premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. on TNT.