MacGyver: Behind the Scenes on CBS' Remake of the '80s Classic

Ileane Rudolph
MacGyver

Annette Brown/CBS

The action-adventure romp MacGyver (1985–92) made a star out of Richard Dean Anderson and inspired a beloved Saturday Night Live parody. Now, almost 25 years later, the supremely resourceful secret agent is back with his trusty Swiss army knife and a dedicated group of allies to save the world one strip of duct tape and safety pin at a time.

Peter Lenkov, who successfully rebooted Hawaii Five-0, is at the helm, and Lucas Till (the X-Men franchise’s Havok) plays the new heroic tinkerer. “He’s not the son or the nephew of Angus MacGyver,” Lenkov says. “He is MacGyver.”

Fans of the franchise will find lots they’ll recognize. After a mission with his government agency goes tragically wrong, MacGyver creates the Phoenix Foundation, which sends the team around the world to protect U.S. interests. “There’s plenty of action,” says Lenkov, “but like the original, this is a show that means for you to sit back, smile and forget your troubles.”

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the MacGyver magic.

MacGyver, Series Premiere, Friday, September 23, 8/7c, CBS.

Guy D'Alema/CBS

“This is MacGyver trying to stop a plane before it takes off,” Till says. “It was the very first scene I shot and I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to have to hang from a metal lip, and it’s pretty easy to get cut if you hang on to it long enough.’ I figured we’d do it three or four times, and it turned into 25. By the end of the day, my hands were in so much pain!”

MACGYVER

Annette Brown/CBS

“MacGyver is making an electromagnet to mess with a bad guy’s radio signal,” Lenkov says of the above raw materials. “He’s using a nail, copper wire, a battery and some duct tape.” That sounds like the MacGyver we know!

MACGYVER,

Guy D'Alema/CBS

The actor names on their chairs may be different, but the characters they play are mostly based on their predecessors. Among them: Jack Dalton (CSI alum George Eads), Nikki Carpenter (Tracy Spiridakos) and Patricia Thornton (Sandrine Holt), an update on the original’s Pete.

MACGYVER

Annette Brown/CBS

Our hero is mixing some very caustic muriatic acid with aluminum to make a smoke bomb. “I used to make those bombs when I was a kid,” admits Till (left, with Eads). “I’d shake up toilet bowl cleanser and aluminum foil and watch it go bang!”

MACGYVER

Annette Brown/CBS

“Mac and Jack go see Riley Davis [Tristin Mays], who’s in supermax for hacking government secrets. They want to get her paroled so she’ll join our team,” Till explains. Mac could always try a paper clip to free her from prison, like he’s just done with her cuffs.

MACGYVER,

Jace Downs/CBS

If MacGyver is the brain, then Jack Dalton, an ex-CIA black-ops agent, is the brawn. “I don’t know how I’d do this job without George, on and off screen,” Till says. “Jack looks after MacGyver, and George always knows how to keep me in a good head space and get the job done.”

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