CBS’ new MacGyver takes another page from the original series’ playbook this Friday at 8/7c, when the elite assassin Murdoc makes himself known, launching what promises to be an engaging, ongoing clash between brilliant minds.
Setting the stage for this “reborn” rivalry is the none-too-small fact that Murdoc has been hired to take out the series’ titular hero. “The reason why Murdoc is coming for MacGyver is something that I can’t and won’t reveal,” says the killer’s portrayer, David Dastmalchian (whom you may recognize from a recent 12 Monkeys arc, or his turn as a Joker stooge in The Dark Knight). “But I think it’s a pretty great twist.”
What’s more, Murdoc will make mayhem in not just Mac’s professional life, but his personal one as well. “There’s a psychological game playing as well, not just the physical threat of ‘I’m going to kill you,'” Dastmalchian previews. “It’s, ‘How twisted can this game get?'”
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Regardless of whom Murdoc was recruited by and why, he will quickly come to realize that crafty Mac is not easily whacked — a fact that only energizes the assassin.
“Most of the time Murdoc is taking out his marks, it’s done in a way that you never saw him coming, and you never realized he was there,” Dastmalchian notes. “What he loves — and despises — about MacGyver is that he makes it very hard, but also rather fun, for a nihilist like Murdoc. So by the time I get to pull out the ‘big guns,’ I’m savoring it. Like, ‘Wow, I’ve been so good at my job for so long, I forgot what it’s like to actually have a bit of cat-and-mouse, to have a real challenge.’ MacGyver impresses me so much.”
And yet, Murdoc will prove to be every bit Mac’s equal, if not more. “MacGyver is really, really good at what he does,” Dastmalchian acknowledges. “But I’ve got to say, Murdoc is just a hair better.”
If Dastmalchian speaks of this gig with a certain fondness, it’s because he is coming at it as a longtime fan of the original MacGyver, where English entertainer Michael Des Barres (pictured above) recurred as Murdoc.
“When they called and said, ‘There’s this role, Murdoc, they’re going to cast…,’ I knew exactly what they were talking about before they went any further. I was so excited,” the actor recalls. “The bar was already set by Michael, who was just incredible, so I feel really honored to step into his proverbial assassin’s boots, that I get to be the one with the rocket launcher now!”
Inheriting the role “was a little scary,” Dastmalchian admits, “but I’m very optimistic, and curious, to see how people who adored what Michael did will interpret what I brought to the table. I felt like there was a lot of homage to the original Murdoc while also updating and bringing him into this new world.” As for any direct callbacks to, say, Murdoc’s penchant for disguises: “Oh, well, you’ll just have to wait and see….”
Is it safe to assume that Murdoc’s visit won’t be one-and-done, regardless of how his first face-off with Mac ends? After all, as played by Des Barres, the crafty killer seemed to have nine lives.
“If you ever watched the original, Murdoc is so good at his job that even when he would catapult from the edge of a ravine at the end of an episode, he always found a way back,” Dastmalchian reminds. “So I will say this to the viewers: This is just the beginning.”