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Sun, Feb 25, 2018 03:49 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
A conversation with Julian McMahon
by Sally Stone

"Nip/Tuck"

FX

Tuesdays

"Nip/Tuck" revolves around the professional and personal lives of two successful plastic surgeons, Dr. Sean McNamara, played by Dylan Walsh ("We Were Soldiers"), and Dr. Christian Troy, played by Julian McMahon ("Profiler," "Charmed"). Others in the cast include Joely Richardson ("Shoreditch") as McNamara's wife, Julia, and Linda Klein, an actor and real life R.N., as the partners' no-nonsense nurse. Klein also serves as adviser to the on-screen surgeons on how to handle the instruments of their characters' profession. As Klein says, "You can use a scalpel to slice open a body the wrong way or the right way. When I'm around, it's the right way." And if it's a particularly complex maneuver, it's her gloved hands we see moving around inside the patient's body.

****

Notwithstanding whatever the networks may offer in the upcoming 2003-04 TV season, FX's "Nip/Tuck" may turn out to be the best show introduced on television this year. It has wit. It has sex. It has drama. It's smart. And it has Julian McMahon, whose character, Dr. Christian Troy, exemplifies all of the foregoing.

Troy has been described by some observers as a cad, considering all the love 'em and leave 'em escapades he gets into on the show. McMahon, who describes Troy as one of the most complex and interesting characters he's played on television, agrees that he "can be caddish," noting that Troy loves women not for who they are, but for what they can do for his ego, his libido and his bank account. (Troy's idea of afterglow is persuading his bedmates to undergo a nip and a tuck on his surgical table to "enhance" their desirability. And it almost always works.)

"But he's not a one-dimensional character," McMahon says. "If he were, I wouldn't have wanted to play him. That caddish quality is only part of who he is. There's much more to him," the Australian-born actor says. "Yes, he can be shallow in his relationships. And selfish and self-centered. But he's also capable of real love. And sacrifice — if necessary — if really, really necessary," McMahon adds.

Isn't there also a ruthless side to Christian Troy?

"Oh you think so?" McMahon laughs. "Perhaps. But he doesn't think so. He might threaten to do terrible things to people if he feels they're threatening him or his way of life — the two being indivisible, of course. When Sean, his partner and closest friend, tried to leave the practice to devote his surgical skills to help people regardless of their ability to pay, Troy realized he might lose all his expensive toys: his cars, his apartment, everything that money could buy for him. He warned Sean he would destroy him financially if he left. Was that being ruthless or was it survival? As it turned out, Troy later agreed they should do more pro bono work."

Michael Jackson has become a poster boy for the critics of plastic surgeons who can't say no to patients who — like Jackson — have one operation after another; McMahon agrees.

"One of the things I learned about plastic surgery when I signed to do the series," he says, "is that there are people who are addicts — junkies they call them. They go back and forth having this procedure done or that one redone. If they're turned away by their last surgeon, they find another one. They seem to be driven by a compulsion for a perfection that, of course, always eludes them. It's sad, and more doctors are using psychologists to help them determine which patients to accept or reject. Something," he chuckles, "Troy reluctantly, but wisely, also agreed to do after he made a decision based on greed, rather than good sense."

If Julian McMahon could offer some friendly advice to Dr. Christian Troy, what would it be?

"I'd say, on a personal note, 'Grow up. Stop being so self-centered and start living in the real world.' But on a professional note, I'd say, 'Don't change. I'm having a ball playing you and learning more about you all the time.'"

IN FOCUS: ESPN isn't just for sports shows anymore. The cable channel will now air weekly sports-themed dramatic series, kicking off with "Playmakers" debuting Aug. 26. The show revolves around a football team and the lives of its players, coaches, their families and the owner. Omar Gooding ("Hangin' with Mr. Cooper") plays the young running back, Demetrius Harris. "For me, this is a dream-come-true role," he says. "I love sports, and here I get to play someone like Demetrius; someone who dreamed all his life about being where he is. But now he finds that there are prices you sometimes have to pay for getting what you want." Gooding says he's had to learn how to be "a real football player, not just play one. When I'm out there," he says, "I'm not only in the scene, I'm also in the game."

Does that include the aches and pains of running the ball?

"You better believe it does."

(c) 2003 King Features Synd., Inc.

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