TNT is getting ready to roll out its latest drama series, Perception, starring Eric McCormack as Daniel Pierce, a brilliant but troubled professor who helps the FBI solve their most bizarre cases. LeVar Burton also appears in the recurring role of Paul Haley, the dean of Daniel's college and a close personal friend to the professor. The actor recently participated in a conference call to discuss the new show, debuting Monday, July 9 at 10 PM ET with the Season 1 Premiere, and its connections to his previous shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and the award-winning mini-series Roots.
The actor first talked about how he became involved in the show, revealing that he had worked with series creators Kenneth Biller and Mike Sussman on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
"Kenneth Biller and Mike Sussman are Star Trek alums and I read the pilot and forced my way in. I love Ken's writing and I loved his pilot and I called Ken and said, 'Is there any way I can be in this?' And he said, "Well, the one character that you're right for it's like in a scene in this pilot.' And I said, 'Yes, but, you know, I see room there for this guy to grow.' And Ken worked it out. You know, he was thrilled at the prospects. We had a great relationship on Star Trek and I directed a lot of episodes that he wrote and as a fan I just wanted to be in this."
He also talked about working with the Emmy-winning Eric McCormack, and how professional he is on the set.
"I'm a huge Eric McCormack fan, was before meeting him and working with him and even more so now. He totally kills this role, definitely, and I really appreciate the difficulty of what he is so deftly doing in every episode. And he's just a joy to watch and a marvel to behold. I'm so happy to be working with Eric McCormack.
And then on top of being as good as he is, he's a real professional. There are a lot of kids who want to be famous these days who come to Los Angeles and say that, you know, they want to be an actor or an actress but really what they want is to be famous. Eric is a real pro, right. He takes what he does seriously, yet he doesn't take himself as a celebrity seriously, so he's one of those people who knows, understands what it means to be the number one on the call-sheet. You know what I mean when I say that? Number one on the call-sheet. Eric knows, he knows what it represents. He knows how to do that.
People like Scott Bakula, Mark Harmon, they're guys who know how to be number one on the call-sheet, right. They care about the work and, you know, saying good night to everybody when they leave, I mean, just that their humanity is a part of how they move in the world and it shows up in their inter-personal, you know, relationships with cast and crew and it just -- it's wonderful when you see that in action."
He also talked about his character Paul Haley's name, and how it was an homage to Roots author Alex Haley.
"You know what, everything happens for a reason. And when (Ken) was naming the character, he called me and said, 'I'm thinking of naming the character Haley. What do you think of that?' I was like blown away because as an homage to (Alex) who had such a major impact on my life and, you know, this country, by the way, I think it really does come full circle. It's really -- it's interesting because this is the 35th anniversary of Roots this year. It's also the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation coming on the air and between -- literally between Roots, Kunta Kinte and Geordi La Forge is LeVar. And there's just a wonderful symmetry I think to that. And playing Dean Haley in Perception is the fulfillment of some kind of, I don't know, some kind of karmic wonderfulness. I guess that's the best way I have of describing it."
You can watch LeVar Burton as Paul Haley on TNT's Perception, debuting Monday, July 9 at 10 PM ET.