FBI: MOST WANTED Post-Mortem: Julian McMahon on the 'Risky,' 'Really Brave' Format-Busting Fall Finale - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

FBI: MOST WANTED Post-Mortem: Julian McMahon on the ‘Risky,’ ‘Really Brave’ Format-Busting Fall Finale

December 14, 2021 by  

FBI Most Wanted Run-Hide-Fight spoilers

“Run-Hide-Fight” – While holiday shopping, Barnes and Jess are caught in the middle of a mall shooting, with the exits rigged so no one can escape. Also, Gaines, Hana and Ortiz try to help from the outside, knowing their team’s family members are inside and at risk, on the CBS Original series FBI: MOST WANTED, Tuesday, Dec. 14 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+*.
Pictured (L-R) Jen Landon as Sarah Allen,
Julian McMahon as Supervisory Special Agent Jess LaCroix and YaYa Gosselin as Natalia “Tali” LaCroix
Photo: Mark Schäfer / CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Tuesday, December 14 episode of FBI: MOST WANTED.]

For the final FBI: MOST WANTED episode of 2021, the show took a big swing, as Jess (Julian McMahon), Barnes (Roxy Sternberg), and their families became trapped—with civilians—as shooters took control of a mall.

The hour deviated from its normal format, as the characters were trapped in an active crime scene (and the team members stuck outside had to do what they could to figure out what was going on and figure out a way to help save the day with limited information) rather than be reactive in the aftermath.

“It’s just stylistically something that we haven’t done before,” McMahon says. “A great thing about it for me was we—the whole show, the whole production—wanted to produce something we hadn’t done before. That could be risky. It’s easy to rely on the format. It’s easy to rely on what we know. It’s easy to rely on what we’ve done before. We can do that; I think we do it really well. And I think we consistently invest in our characters, our storylines, and we do a really good job. But to do something completely foreign—that’s what this was. It was something uncharted. I think it was just really brave.”

“Just the way that everybody stepped up, all the actors, all of the crew,  [our] great director Ken [Girotti] and then, obviously, the whole department over at Wolf,” he continues. “We were anxious making it. We’re like, ‘What are we doing?’ I remember walking out of there with Ken, scratching our heads [after we] just finished the last scene inside the mall, and we were like, ‘I don’t know what we did in there, man.’ We took away the safety net. I just think that’s a really cool thing. And then to have it come out so profoundly, I think is a really sweet.”

For Jess and Barnes, rather than getting time to get a feel for the case and the situation they were in, “this was all about survival,” McMahon notes. “It’s a completely different episode.”

Filming the episode, much of which took place within the mall, was a also a different process. “It was a tough shoot, because of the location that we had to film it,” McMahon says. “We only had specific hours [we could be inside], so we had to start really early and shoot before people came into the mall.”

“But it was also tough because we had to put all the pieces together when we didn’t really know how to put the pieces together,” he continues. “You could use certain parts of the mall and then you couldn’t use others. And then you want to use things dramatically, but you didn’t want other things in the background. So it was trying to piece together something that you didn’t understand the format of yet.”

To get to the core of the episode, the cast and crew set about every day “breaking down, ‘What are we trying to get out of this? What’s the emotional thing to get? What’s the connection that we need to get with the other cast members? What’s the connection that we need to get with the family? What’s the connection we need to get with the guys outside?'” McMahon recalls. “Usually I walk away and I know what that’s gonna look like or I know what that has potential to look like. This was not that at all. This was just walking away going, ‘Okay, we just shot that and we shot a lot of stuff.’ It was always trying to find that connection, with Jess and his dad, Jess and his daughter, and other characters. I was trying to find those little bits of connection, so that we could kind of tell that human story on on top of the kind of tragedy that was happening.”

Amidst the chaos, Jess had a moment where he tried to comfort everyone about having to leave so he could try and take down the shooters…but in doing so, he had to leave the civilians alone to take care of themselves. Jess told them that everything in the room could be used as a weapon and the only thing that was important was to survive.

That moment “[is] really the epitome, to me, of that kind of character,” McMahon notes. “He’s got this group of people, and some of them he knows and some of them he doesn’t. But this is the kind of the man that he is, who, to the best of his ability, will take care of all of them. And that to me is the core of the show, and also the core of who Jess LaCroix is as a man.”

Jess did get a bit of unexpected help in the hour from an NYPD officer, Linwood Williams played by K. Todd Freeman. And as much as Jess appreciated the help, McMahon was equally as delighted by his co-star.

“Firstly, he was just so great,” he gushes. “Oh my God. He just came in and nailed it. I always say like the hardest thing to do in this environment is say one word. You come into a scene and everybody else has [so much to do in] the scene and you have one word. That’s the hardest thing to do, because you have no real through line, no real connection. No real kind of understanding of the past, because you haven’t been invested in it. [And in this episode, as a guest] he just gave it everything.”

“I told him when he finished, ‘You were just incredible,”” he continues. “He just came in and was up for everything. And it was important to [the story]…Here’s the interesting thing: under the circumstances, you couldn’t do anything but establish a strong relationship, really quickly, otherwise you had nothing. And the great thing was that both of them had [law enforcement] backgrounds. And they trusted in that enough as two people and said, ‘Okay, we’re going in this direction.’ You couldn’t do that in any other circumstance. But when your life is on the line, and your family’s life is on the line, you go, ‘We’re trusting each other right now.’ That’s it. Conversation’s over and that unto itself is a beautiful experience. Who gets that opportunity?”

As much as McMahon loved the hour, he did admit there was one tiny downside.

“Well, I didn’t do any training for it, so I was sore for about a week after,” he says with a laugh. “I really was! We shot it for about two weeks, and about day seven, day eight, I was like, ‘Oh my God, my quads are killing me. My calves are killing me.’ If you notice in the show, because we’re hiding, we’re bending over the whole time. And I know that sounds kind of so what, but it actually took a lot out of me…you’re working muscles that you never had before. So I was sore, literally sore, for like a week after.”

“I should have been doing training, but as you know, the kind of [schedule] of television and the necessity to go from one [episode] to the next, we kind of had to move on,” he continues with another laugh. “I wasn’t even ready for it. I should have done the training, but I was not ready for it!”

FBI: MOST WANTED, Tuesdays, 10/9c, CBS


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