When people talk about MacGyver, they often mention certain items or character traits. Interestingly, this changes depending on the country.
In English-speaking countries, people often mention paperclips and chewing gum. In German-speaking countries, it all seems to be about MacGyver’s hair. Even in Switzerland, the mullet is mentioned before the Swiss Army Knife (maybe because MacGyver never carried a model of the SAK that was carried by actual Swiss Army Soldiers).
Back in February 2016, when news outlets like Deadline announced CBS ordering a pilot for a MacGyver Reboot, the social media buzz was intense. And many people asked: Who will be the new MacGyver? What will he look like? What will his hair look like?
On March 23, CBS finally announced Lucas Till being cast as rebooted MacGyver. While some news outlets like Deadline used an old picture of Lucas from 2011 (his official IMDb portrait, originally from a promo event for X-Men: First Class), most websites like the Hollywood Reporter or Variety used a more or less recent picture of Lucas sporting long hair (from his appearance at the Catalina Film Festival in September 2015). Cue the drama.
I was around 10 years old when I watched my first episode of Original MacGyver, and it was an episode of Season 3 (The Widowmaker). I’m a kid of the 80s, so Richard Dean Anderson’s hair as MacGyver wasn’t all that unusual to me. But I will always associate MacGyver’s hair with Seasons 3, 4 or 6 – not with the shorter and darker do he sported in Seasons 1 and 2 or the longer “beach-style-hair” in Seasons 5 and 7.
I experienced “hair-drama” before: Back in December 2007, when Robert Pattinson was cast for the first Twilight-Movie. When Summit Entertainment announced him being cast as Edward Cullen, Rob was still sporting black and a bit longer hair than usual because of his latest role in Little Ashes (2008) where he portrayed artist Salvador Dalì. So what happened? There were petitions.
Petitions by vicious fangirls (and fanboys) with thousands of signatures that demanded that “Cedric Diggory” (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005) was not the right person for this role and should be re-cast. Well. We know what happened: The first Twilight-Movie broke the record for the best US domestic opening box office by a female director (which was broken in 2015 by the first installment of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, which has been recently surpassed by “Wonder Woman”). Pattinson made four other Twilight-Movies that made a lot of money. And against the predictions back then, his career is far from over.
Back to MacGyver.
Expectations for the Reboot were high, of course. Very high. As fans of the Original Version, we knew that our expectations most likely wouldn’t be perfectly met. But one can only hope, right? There were lots of discussions about Lucas being cast (and about his hair!) in the MacGyver Online Forums as well.
I didn’t really know what to think – I had never seen a single one of Lucas’ movies back then and wasn’t able to judge his acting skills. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be wearing a mullet, of course since mullets are not deemed very cool anymore. But I was worried about him sporting long, shaggy hair in the reboot because of my dislike of RDA’s hair in Seasons 5 and 7.
When it became clear that Lucas would probably keep his long hair, I did wonder if they would do some flashback-flashforward scenes (à la Arrow) to establish some of MacGyver’s backstory; especially because of the leaked character descriptions. The discussions remained speculations because although some pictures of shooting locations and the new logo were leaked (and later deleted) on social media, there was no picture of Lucas in character. Not even of Lucas NOT being in character.
We didn’t know what he would look like until the first official still was released on May 16. Let’s say the pictures weren’t very well received on social media. There were references to the Hanson Brothers and comments on Twitter that MacGyver doesn’t have time for haircuts because he’s busy saving the world.
Of course, all discussions and fears had been for nothing when it was announced only days later that the Reboot would be rebooted with a new Executive Producer, a new script, new cast members and a new filming location (and therefore a new crew). The Pilot Episode would be reshot which probably meant a new look (and a different hairstyle) as well.
I was very excited when I got a glimpse of Lucas in the first trailer for his upcoming movie “Monster Trucks” (2016) a few weeks later. The movie had already been shot in 2013, but hadn’t been released yet due to the long post-production process. I really liked his character’s hairstyle and also the clothes. Additionally, the lead role of Tripp handling tools and car parts made him look very MacGyver.
On the 3rd of June in 2016, Lucas appeared at the CBS Television Studios Summer Soiree. His hair was still long, but seemed a bit shorter than in the Unaired Pilot. On June 21, CBS announced the Premiere Date and – surprise! – Lucas sported a new haircut. Which looked very good and very modern-day MacGyver in my opinion.
Not even a month later, we got the first glimpse of Lucas in character on the first day of shooting the new pilot. Sporting the signature leather jacket, I couldn’t even remember what had been the problem in the first place. Well done!
End of Part 1. I will reminisce about MacGyver’s hair some more in Part 2.