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Eric McCormack Talks About 'Andromeda Strain'

By Fred Topel

Eric McCormack Andromeda Strain

Eric McCormack at the premiere of A&E's screening of the classic science-fiction film 'The Andromeda Strain' at the Directors Guild of America Theatre in Los Angeles, California.

Vince Bucci / Getty Images

May 13, 2008 - Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain has already been made into one movie, but now A&E has decided it would take more than one film to really tell the story. Their version is a miniseries starring Eric McCormack, Daniel Dae Kim, Christa Miller, Viola Davis, Rick Schroeder and Benjamin Bratt as representatives of science, the military and media dealing with an alien virus. At the miniseries' L.A. premiere, a few of the stars discussed the new film.

Interview with Eric McCormack

Who is your character?
“I am Jack Nash who is a recovering coke addict and a reporter for a CNN-like news station. He's somewhere between Geraldo Rivera and Anderson Cooper I would say, with a little Hunter Thompson thrown in there.”

Exactly the kind of guy we want handling a crisis.
“Exactly, exactly. He is the only reporter that gets wind of this and he's all society has, which is pretty sad.”

So it's your exclusive?
“It's definitely my exclusive, and my character and Ben Bratt's character knew each other from a previous crisis, so he needs me to get the word out. I need him because he's my only thing, but we have only one scene together and that's like a phone scene. So we actually didn't get to act together until the final, final moment of the movie.”

Is this character updated from the original?
“Yeah. I don't even think he exists in the original movie. I think the original film was so focused on the actual disease and finding the cure. That is one definite third of this movie - it's Ben and all the doctors. There's also the military/political part of the movie that is very much the espionage, the cover-up, who knows who, who's really the bad guy side. Then the other third of the movie is me by myself running through the desert trying to find a phone.”

Do you get to say really big medical words?
“I'm not medical, man. I get to just snort coke, which is much more fun than saying big medical words.”

What is it for real? Baby powder?
“I guess so. I never really asked. I guess I should have, right? I should have said, ‘What is this?’ I'm very trusting.”

Why do you think they added the media component?
“Because it was very, very possible. First of all, it was science fiction when it was written. I think this is pretty close to science fact now. It's not outrageous to think if people are getting on international flights with tuberculosis or whole continents are dying of AIDS, it's not impossible to imagine a killer disease. It's very, very close to the truth and the truth is, nowadays, rather than three anchors, all of whom would never out the President, we now have a trillion media people who would kill for the scoop. I don't think it's impossible. As we see with these various cover-ups, it's almost impossible for the government to hide everything because you guys are going to find out about it. Well, not you. People magazine's probably not going to break the story but Time might. Or actually, this guy isn't a magazine, he's CNN. It's that constant 24 hour news thing that doesn't allow anybody to get away with anything.”

You’re going back to do another series. What kind of show is it?
“It is an hour for TNT at this point called Truth in Advertising. That's going to change but it's Tom Cavanagh and myself as partners in an ad firm. It's very funny. It's a very funny hour.”

Was the decision to go back to TV because it was a different format and genre?
“I missed talking to you guys mostly. You weren't calling. No, it's just a great script. It's a great script. I love doing a series. I love playing a character ongoing, and I just was waiting for the right one. This is it, god dammit.”

Additional Andromeda Strain Interviews: Christa Miller & Bill Lawrence / Daniel Dae Kim / Viola Davis

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