Julian McMahon Finally Gets To Play A Good Guy

By Ileane Rudolph

Julian McMahon’s played a lot of characters who were bad (Dr. Doom) or morally ambiguous (Dr. Troy in Nip/Tuck). In his new role on Dick Wolf’s latest spinoff FBI: Most Wanted (Tuesdays, beginning Jan. 7), however, he plays dedicated FBI agent Jess LaCroix, who heads up the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force. Here the Australian actor takes us behind the scenes.
For those who didn’t see the backdoor pilot on FBI last season, tell us about the show’s Fugitive Task Force.
Julian McMahon: It’s a small, unique group of five agents who are employed to pursue individuals on the 10 Most Wanted List. It’s very much an on-the-road team that will go anywhere to take care of whatever issues are before them. Jess handpicked fantastically talented younger folks for the task force who have talents in different areas.
What is Jess’ talent?
He’s a bit of a savant who profiles a room or an individual really quickly. He starts to think like the bad guys really quickly as well. He gets into the mindset of the perpetrator and uses that skill to get on his or her trail.
Did you go to Quantico to study real FBI Fugitive Task Force members? 
No, because this happened super fast, but I had worked as an agent on a show similar to this called Profiler in the late ’90s, and I worked for about three weeks with agents in Quantico. I did a lot of research back then.
What’s Jess’ personal story? 
He grew up in upstate New York, married a doctor in the military and had a child. She was killed in Afghanistan, and during the last three years he’s had to come to terms with losing his wife while attempting to rebuild his [family] life and raise his daughter, who’s 11. That kind of continuing theme is that he’s a single dad struggling to right his own life and also be there for his kid. The bookends of each episode are with him and his daughter. It’s an interesting emotional journey because he’s going through this learning curve even while he’s on the hunt for the bad guys.
What’s been the most fun on the job? 
It’s a roller-coaster ride! There’s lots of action, lots of guns, and FBI SWAT teams and that’s always so fun. For example, we were standing outside on Friday night, and we had this huge armored vehicle arriving with like 20 SWAT guys and gals coming out of it and stuff going off and lights shattering.
Which of your characters elicit the most fan questions, and what do fans ask you most?
It’s a three-way tie among [Fantastic Four’s] Dr. Doom, [Nip/Tuck’s] Dr. Christian Troy and [Charmed’s] source of all evil, Cole Turner. In one day, I can get, “Oh, I loved you on Charmed,” “Christian Troy rocks” and “Oh, Dr. Doom’s here!” The biggest question I used to get, which was fascinating, was “When are you going to play a good guy?” I’m playing a good guy for a change, so I’m hoping people who know me will enjoy!