‘FBI: Most Wanted’s Julian McMahon Says Jess Is ‘Struggling’ to Forgive His Father

Terry O'Quinn Julian McMahon FBI Most Wanted Season 2
Q&A
Mark Schäfer / CBS

Things are going to get worse before they get better for Supervisory Special Agent Jess LaCroix (Julian McMahon) and his dad, Byron (guest star Terry O’Quinn), in FBI: Most Wanted Season 2.

The two recently exchanged heated words: Jess is still upset his dad didn’t attend his wife’s funeral, while Byron called out his son for how much he works and its effect on his daughter, Tali (YaYa Gosselin). “All she’s ever going to know of you is the back of your head as you’re walking out the door,” he said.

“That’s more than she should know about you,” Jess countered.

Here, McMahon previews the crucial moment to come in January 26’s installment.

Jess’ relationship with his dad “reaches a breaking point.” How does that play out?

His father has realized he has made some mistakes in his raising of and relationship with Jess. However, at the point his father’s at in life, you’ve gotta say, “Can we put it behind us and move forward and have some kind of relationship now? That’s what’s important.” After years of blaming somebody for something, how do you change that without blaming yourself? Jess is struggling with that a little bit.

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We kick off the episode with the two of them coming to heads with each other. Jess is finding it really difficult to forgive and move on and his father just wants to forgive and be forgiven and move on. It creates a really interesting intro but also a great journey. Jess carries whatever happens at the beginning of the episode, that emotion, with him throughout and we continue that storyline even though it might come through in different ways, [with] the bad guy and what they’ve been through. I really enjoyed that with this one.

I’m a bit of a forgive-and-move-on guy myself. Jess is almost the opposite. Particularly since his wife passed away, he just holds on to these little bits he can without breaking. There’s a breaking point in forgiving his father and moving on he’s not prepared to be honorable with because he feels like perhaps the rest of his life will collapse if he does.

FBI Most Wanted Season 2 Episode 5 Jess Byron

(Mark Schäfer/CBS)

As part of that, does Jess have to leave behind the brutal honesty we saw from his and his dad’s Episode 3 conversation?

Do you face the brutal honesty or do you just move on? You can spend too much time sulking in that stuff and then sometimes if you don’t process it at all, you’re missing the beat a little bit. It’s a bit of a balance. Some of that he’s going to have to do on his own and some with his father. This is just the beginning of that new relationship. This is not, “Hey, we’re all good.”

How are you and Terry O’Quinn approaching those father/son scenes?

Terry and I hit it off straightaway. In this business, you have to move very quickly, so we played with, how do we best portray this relationship in a limited amount of time? We have a bumper on either end [of an episode], with which to convey all of the things going on. My job, being a regular, is to allow somebody like Terry to feel as comfortable as possible so he can bring as good as he can and be as good as he can because we all know how good that is as quickly as possible.

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Ripped-from-the-headlines issues, says showrunner David Hudgins, will result in some highly personal stories.

I wanted to play Jess like a little boy to a certain extent. We always see this strong leader [at work] and he has specific responsibilities and he’s very motivated by that and lives by that, but also it’s who he is. It’s interesting when you see people you’ve known for a bit — [like] Jess and the audience — put into a different light. You almost go back to these childhood moments sometimes. I wanted to get that across between the two of them when he said, “You didn’t come to the funeral.” That’s something Jess has been holding on to for a while and has been pretty painful for him — not just the loss of his wife but his family wasn’t there to support him. That was another nail in the breach of that relationship.

I wanted to get across for both of us. You get and look older and mature but inside, there’s still a lot of the personality you were in your teens, 20s, 30s, 40s. We don’t just become old statues. I wanted to convey in that brief moment and between the two of them time that may have been lost.

Julian McMahon FBI Most Wanted Season 2 Jess LaCroix

(Mark Schäfer / CBS)

FBI: Most Wanted, Tuesdays, 10/9c, CBS