‘FBI: Most Wanted’ Star Julian McMahon Says Holiday Episode Is ‘Huge Departure’ for Show

by Allison Hambrick
Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

FBI: Most Wanted actor Julian McMahon opens up about how the holiday-themed midseason finale differs from other episodes.

Set in a shopping mall, it opens with McMahon’s character Jess LaCroix spending time with his family. He then runs into coworker Sheryll Barnes and her pregnant wife. Unfortunately, the festive scene is disrupted when three masked gunmen open fire.

“We usually start with a Muster Room thing where we get the information about what happened, and then we go into an interrogation process and end up catching the bad guy in the end,” McMahon explained to TVLine. “[It] starts out as our Christmas episode. Then all Hell breaks loose, so to speak, and it becomes a format unto itself — something we haven’t done on this show.”

Additionally, the FBI: Most Wanted actor emphasizes that this episode has a different impact. While their cases normally involve strangers, the potential victims, in this case, are their family members.

“Emotionally, the connective tissue of this episode is different,” McMahon said. “You’ve got all of your family members pretty much in the mall, and an emotional through-line connects of all of them as this tragic moment touches everybody’s lives in a way you can’t do without an extreme reality. Usually you go to Jess’ house, or you go to Barnes’ house… but this is everybody. They’re all connected and they have a common goal.”

McMahon on the Appeal of ‘FBI: Most Wanted’

Procedurals are arguably the most popular genre on television. In fact, McMahon enjoys it when the show isn’t afraid to go darker.

“Real stories are hard to beat, so we take those little bits, and we incorporate them and we tell them in our own kind of way,” he said. “I love to be able to make a statement culturally about what we are experiencing at this point in time. Last year, when we started, we delved into the whole COVID-19 situation, the Black Lives Matter situation and violence against police officers.”

Despite often having heavy content, they pull consistently high ratings. McMahon views this as a form of escapism.

“ I kind of feel like with these shows, you always get asked, ‘What does the audience get out of this, and why do they keep coming back?’” the FBI actor clarified. “I was thinking over the weekend that there’s always something to lean into that’s tragic. There might be something in the fact that when you sit down and watch a show like this, with all the stuff that’s going on in the world, it’s almost like you can hand the responsibility and stress about what’s going on in our society to Jess LaCroix and his team and say, ‘Go take care of it for me,’ and that’s what they do.”

For his part, McMahon is happy with fans finding “solace” in FBI.

“For an hour of your life, you give the responsibility to somebody else and you see the good guys win,” he continues. “It’s almost therapeutic, where you say, ‘Everything’s crazy, but these guys are gonna fix it’ — and at the end of the day, they do.”