‘MacGyver’ Star Lucas Till Says He Was ‘Suicidal’ Over Body-Shaming By Showrunner
“MacGyver” star Lucas Till is speaking out about the toxic work environment that former showrunner Peter Lenkov created on the CBS series, revealing that he was left “suicidal” by the alleged abuse and body-shaming.
The actor is one of a handful of cast and crew members who’ve come forward about Lenkov’s “unacceptable” behavior in a new Vanity Fair piece published Monday, two weeks after the network ended its relationship with the onetime “MacGyver,” “Magnum P.I.” and “Hawaii Five-0” boss.
“I’ve never worked this hard in my life, and I am fine with hard work,” Till told Maureen Ryan, a former HuffPost employee, in the piece. “But the way Peter treats people is just unacceptable. I was suicidal that first year on the show, because of the way he made me feel. But the way he’s treated the people around me ― that’s just my breaking point.”
Till, who has starred on the reboot of the action series for four seasons, alleged that Lenkov repeatedly criticized his physique, which drove the actor to contact CBS’s human resources department.
“There was always something about my appearance that wouldn’t please him like when I was in a hospital gown and our producer…thought it was funny that [Lenkov] said my legs were ‘fucking hideous’ and we can never show them again,” Till wrote in an email to CBS HR, according to Vanity Fair.
Till alleged that Lenkov also raged against him for looking like a “little fucking boy” in one scene, which was a sore spot for the actor, now 29, who said he’s struggled with his appearance as a leading man given his age.
“Just hire a 35-year-old then,” he recalled thinking, adding that he’s “struggled with maintaining ‘man weight’ on the show because of the stress, no time to work out, and an unpredictable schedule for proper nourishment.”
An unnamed “MacGyver” source told Vanity Fair that Lenkov “has a thing against” Till, who changed “dramatically throughout this period.”
“I hated seeing this happen with him because he’s a great guy, and there’s nothing wrong with him or his body,” the source added.
A representative for Lenkov called Till’s claims “100 percent false and untrue” per Vanity Fair, adding that Lenkov “has championed him from the very beginning and has been nothing but supportive of him.”
Elsewhere in the piece, Lenkov’s former employees accused him of particularly targeting women on staff, including threatening their jobs, not giving them fair script credits and, in the case of “MacGyver” actor Meredith Eaton, pressuring her to return to work too soon after a serious injury.
Earlier this month, following an investigation into multiple complaints, CBS fired Lenkov with a year left on his multimillion-dollar deal as a top showrunner on the network.
In response to the allegations of manipulative and abusive behavior by Lenkov, CBS said, “Our studio is committed to ensuring safe and respectful production environments. Over the past year, we have assigned human resource production partners to every show, expanded staff training and increased reporting options. We will continue to evolve our practices with continued focus on building trust with all who work on our sets. Every complaint is taken seriously, every claim is investigated, and when evidence is clear that policies were violated and values not upheld, we take decisive action.”
While Lenkov has denied all accusations of abuse and mistreatment, he broadly apologized in his own statement.
“Now is the time to listen and I am listening. It’s difficult to hear that the working environment I ran was not the working environment my colleagues deserved, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” he told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month. “I accept responsibility for what I am hearing and am committed to doing the work that is required to do better and be better.”
In the wake of Lenkov’s departure, “MacGyver” executive producer Monica Macer was tapped as the new showrunner for the upcoming fifth season, while “Magnum P.I.” executive producer Eric Guggenheim will now oversee that series, which was renewed for a third season. “Hawaii Five-0” ended its run in April after 10 seasons.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
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