A friend from Animal House got Bruce McGill on MacGyver

By: H&I Staff     Posted: October 29, 2021, 1:59PM

Ace aviator and friend of MacGyver, Jack Dalton was one of the few recurring characters on the series. Performed by veteran actor Bruce McGill in 18 episodes, McGill holds the third most credits on the series next to Dana Elcar and Richard Dean Anderson himself.

Prior to taking the role, McGill's only TV credit had been a guest spot on Miami Vice. Impressed with his energy in Miami Vice, the MacGyver showrunners wanted to bring McGill in for the role of Jack Dalton. The only problem was that McGill was focused on film at the time.

Luckily Charlie Correll who was a director on MacGyver had also been the director of photography on Animal House, Bruce McGill's first and big breakout role. Eager to get him on the series, Correll made the call to his old friend

"Charlie called me and said, 'What are you doing?' And I said, 'I’m freezin’, man!` He said, 'Get out here and do this show! We’ll do this; we’ll play some golf. How cold is it there? Cause, it’s great here in L.A.! Besides, what are you worried about? This character dies at the end of the episode, so you don’t have to worry about being attached to a TV show!' So I said, 'What the heck. Okay,'” recalled Bruce McGill on joining the MacGyver series.

Despite their eagerness to cast McGill in the role, by the time he had flown from New York to Los Angeles, only half of Jack Dalton's lines had been written. McGill was more than happy to help flesh out the character and made his first appearance in the episode "Jack of Lies," where he heroically saves Mac and goes down with the plane in the end.

Jack Dalton would be such a hit with both the showrunners and audiences that they went ahead and brought the pilot back from the dead.

"My agent calls and says, they'd like you to do to a MacGyver.' I said, 'Oh, yeah? What’s the character?' 'Same character.' 'But that character died!' And my agent said, 'If Bobby Ewing can come back in the shower…' And I said, 'I get it: Anything’s possible.' Now I know that television does whatever it wants to do."

Despite signing up because he knew his character would die, McGill would come back for 17 more episodes throughout every season of MacGyver and became a staple of the hit series.

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