The hit TNT drama series Perception returns for Season 2 on June 25th. On the show, Eric McCormack plays Dr. Daniel Pierce, a unique and eccentric neuroscience professor whose paranoid schizophrenia helps him solve crimes with FBI agent and former student Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook). Shaking things up this season, special guest star Scott Wolf joins the cast as Donnie, Kate’s soon-to-be ex-husband and a fast-rising Assistant U.S. Attorney who recently transferred back to Chicago and back into Kate’s life.
Collider, along with a handful of other outlets, was recently invited to the set to screen the compelling and intriguing Season 2 premiere and chat with some of the cast. During an interview while on a break from shooting, co-stars Rachael Leigh Cook and Scott Wolf talked about what’s ahead for their characters, how the arrival of Donnie will shake things up for Kate and Daniel, where Daniel and Kate’s relationship is at, after last season, and whether they’re similar to their characters, at all. Check out what they had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
RACHAEL LEIGH COOK: Donnie is a character we mentioned very briefly and in a very disparaging way, in Season 1. Now, here he is and he’s Scott Wolf. Scott had been a perfect fit for the show and the character. It’s established that we are soon to be divorced and had a very tumultuous break-up that is still a little too fresh, especially in my character’s mind. Circumstances ended our relationships because he slept with my best friend, which is not too cool. But, the redemption that’s taking place slowly is remarkable. I would have no clue how to write someone who did that into a character you’re going to root for, but you will.
Are those divorce papers actually filed? Might Kate ever give Donnie a second chance?
COOK: The answer starts off being absolutely no, and there are a lot of barbed comments from me, coming his way, for many episodes on end, to the point that there will be quite a bit of sympathy for him. Then, he proves himself to be a man of character.
SCOTT WOLF: It’s fun because, hopefully, it will be challenging for the audience. You first meet this guy and have every reason to want to slap his face for her. And then, little by little, it’s like everything in life, where you start to realize there’s more to him than just this one thing he did, and more to the actual story of who they are and were to each other. A lot of things start to reveal themselves that challenge your original idea of what this guy is and why she was ever with him, in the first place.
COOK: Yeah, you really see how they used to truly make a great team, both personally and professionally, which is really cool.
WOLF: The thing I love most about it is that it’s been patient. A lot of times, on a series that’s not as well done as this one is, it would just be four episodes and the whole arc would have been told.
COOK: Yeah, he’d make a sweeping, sincere-ish apology and, all of a sudden, we’re back together. And the audience is going, “Hey, we’re smarter than that.”
WOLF: By the time there’s any kind of transitions or redemption, I’ve taken a lot of beatings and I’ve paid my dues.
Daniel has come a long way since Kate saw him breakdown last season. Where is their relationship at now, especially with her ex showing up?
COOK: The whole, “Meet my new best friend, who was my crazy professor, from back in the day,” doesn’t go over huge with Donnie. The evolution of Kate’s relationship with Daniel has been mostly about her understanding him better, especially after what he goes through, at the end of Season 1, where he truly reveals the extent of his illness. Knowing that reality makes her feel more connected to him, like she’s actually been let in, and she’s also more careful with her heart. She’s very invested.
WOLF: For Donnie’s sake, in the beginning, he enlists Daniel’s help for this case, and he proves to be more of a problem than a help. So, you see a side of Donnie that not everybody’s going to love, which is that he’s willing to do whatever he needs to do to get what he needs to get done. That comes at Daniel’s expense, in a big way, and becomes yet another thing that isn’t helping Donnie’s relationship with Kate. But pretty soon, it becomes clear that whatever the shape of those the feelings are, she feels very strongly towards Daniel. There’s a moment when I start to recognize that he is possibly one of the obstacles to winning her back. That thing starts to happen where I start to try to do what I can to keep that from continuing to be a problem. But, you start to see that this is a guy who sees what he wants and feels like he should have it, and is willing to do anything to get it.
Are we going to see a vulnerable side to Donnie?
WOLF: Yes. That is one of the big turning points, in the middle of the season. Donnie will reveal a side of himself to Daniel. Up until that point, it seems most everything he does is fairly calculated. Not necessarily in a sinister way, but he’s thinking through what needs to happen. Then, there is one of those moments when he breaks open a bit and reveals something behind all of that.
Does that makes Donnie an interesting challenge for Daniel?
WOLF: Yeah, and only when he finally stops doing that for a minute and reveals what’s actually going on inside of him, Daniel sees a bit of that, and then it turns into him going back to her and beginning this process of, “Maybe everything is not so black and white.”
COOK: He gets as close as Daniel Pierce can to helping out someone who’s done what he’s done. He actually does say, at one point, “Maybe he’s not as bad as you think.” That’s pretty high praise.
Rachael, what do you think is driving Kate?
COOK: She’s not wrong. Something I relate to, a great deal, is having a passion for justice, for what is right and what is wrong, and needing that to be really clear and needing people to be punished for their terrible actions. My parents took me to see The Fugitive when I was a kid, and I was so upset because he did not kill that man, and I had to leave the movie and wait in the lobby. Kate is a little bit similar. She just can’t stand injustice. She was slighted by this guy, so it carries over into her personal life, as well. Learning that people aren’t all good or all bad is a lot of her personal journey.
COOK: It’s hard ignoring the hallucinations when you’re in scenes with them. They’re always there.
Are you similar to your characters, at all?
COOK: Well, we look a lot like our characters. That’s a tough one. You always carry over elements of your personality, and weed out the ones that don’t work for each character. I have definitely done that here.
WOLF: This character, as much as any that I’ve played, feels like it has my natural energy in him, which is fun. Ultimately, you find yourself shutting down parts of your personality or behavior [to play characters], so it’s fun to play someone who is a little closer to you. That tends to happen on TV more, where you play the same person, day in and day out, week in and week out.
COOK: You don’t know where they’re taking you next, so you only have who you are and your core to guide you and to be able to make that soul emotionally resonate, week to week. But, the decisions that our characters make are theirs.
Scott, what was it like to come into this cast and crew, after they’d been together for a season?
WOLF: Great, is the short answer. They’re amazing people. But, you are coming to sit at somebody else’s Christmas dinner, and there’s an existing world and set of relationships that you want to respect. It’s like a great song that’s already being sung, and you want to just sing along and add something to it. I went in and just read stuff and they filmed it, before they figured out who would play the role, and it just felt right, from the beginning. It felt easy, and like we’d been doing it for awhile.
COOK: Scott’s energy just fits in really well with the energy of the show.
Perception returns to TNT for Season 2 on June 25th.