Before landing a lead role on the racy cable hit “Nip/Tuck,” Julian McMahon kicked around primetime as an investigator on the NBC drama “Profiler” and a demon on the WB series “Charmed.”
Now, he’s a little bit of both.
As Miami-based plastic surgeon Christian Troy, McMahon has helped bust a top drug trafficker and coaxed his girlfriend into partaking in the steamiest of swingers’ parties. A good chunk of his screen time is, in fact, devoted to Christian’s sexual conquests.
“This is the first character I’ve played where I’m watching him and it’s really like having an out-of-body experience,” McMahon says. “He’s very manipulative, and honestly so. He doesn’t have any qualms about how he is.”
The 35-year-old Aussie cut his teeth on “Home and Away,” the same show from Down Under that brought up fellow stars Guy Pearce, Heath Ledger and Naomi Watts. He arrived Stateside for a role on the sudser “As the World Turns.”
“I fought really hard to be in this thing. When I first met (creator-exec producer) Ryan Murphy, I just told him I wanted to be in the piece. I didn’t care if I was the gardener or the limo driver,” he says.
Season two of “Nip/Tuck” will see both Christian and his partner Sean McNamara, played by Dylan Walsh, go through the pains of turning 40. McMahon also reveals his character will see a softer side, emerging as the father figure to a child that last season’s cliffhanger revealed wasn’t his.
A teaser promo for the second season says it all, according to McMahon. The commercial features the two doctors swimming in what later is revealed to be a large silicon breast implant.
“It’s such a wonderful metaphor. They’re stuck in this bubble,” he said. “Floating around in their own crap, basically.”
“The show and characters are on the precipice of an explosion at all moments,” McMahon admits. “It’s always so tense and the stakes are so high.”
On set in the middle of shooting episode eight, the actor is antsy about the second-season premiere of the show later this month.
During down time between shows, he’s worked to perfect Christian’s swagger — “I got conscious this year because it’s such a big part of who he is” he laughs — and tried hard not to think about record-breaking Nielsens the show attained the first time around.
If fan reaction is any indicator, a sophomore slump isn’t in the forecast.
“I’ve had people run up and hug me and scream at me and ask for boob jobs and butt jobs,” he says. “It’s really quite overwhelming, which is great, because you know you’ve struck a place in people.”
Best part about working in TV: “I like the continuing pressure of changing scripts and directors. As an actor I get to learn with directors. So for me that’s a wonderful challenge.”
Hardest part about working in TV: “The hours. Also getting scripts each week and having to learn it. We have big chunky dialogue.”
Favorite scene: “I have to say I love the chemistry between Sean and Christian during a fiery scene. There is stuff that happens with the baby in the seventh episode that just changes the way you look at Christian so much that it almost gives him the ability to do anything.”
TiVo season passes: “I have rugby and ‘Six Feet Under.’ I get a little geeky because I love things like ‘MSNBC Investigates’ and the FBI crime stuff on the Discovery Channel.”