When Julian McMahon joined the cast of Syfy's mini-series Childhood's End, the finale of which airs tonight, he said it was coming back to the genre that's "part of [his] system."
"I grew up on a lot of science fiction. I used to read all the comic books and watch all the cartoons," McMahon told ComicBook.com in an interview. "Things like Star Wars changed my life. As a kid, watching that in the movie theater, it’s hard to explain what that meant. It was an epiphany. So there’s a connection with it because of your roots and who you are."
His character, Rupert, was one he grew to love playing, though he admitted that when he was first approached about an adaptation of Childhood's End, he would've taken just about any role.
"I really like the novel, so I was really interested in it as a fan. It was a little bit of ‘whatever you’ve got there...'" the actor said. "I like Rupert though, he’s a flawed character, blinded by his desire to be more than he is, his ego, whatever you want to call it."
This doesn’t sound familiar, compared with any other characters McMahon has played, right?
"No, not at all!," he said with a laugh. "Or anybody we know operating in the world right now!" That poignant connection is what he wants to explore in Rupert. He said that in order to find the character's motivations, he had to think about his own choices, including those that were mistakes.
"When did I make the wrong choice? I could’ve made a success out of it or a failure, but that’s an interesting question. That’s what it took for me to understand where he’s coming from."
Of course, being a fan, McMahon credits it all back to the novelist that explored these ideas in the first place, Arthur C. Clarke.
"With this, it’d be hard to say some of these things without Arthur C. Clarke’s name attached to it. With him attached to it, people will give it a chance. It is interesting how much of this has happened before. This is a guy who was literally studying this stuff to the point that he could express it and understand it."
In the end, science fiction is part of McMahon's DNA, and he plans to continue with it for as long as he's acting.
"There are a lot of interesting stories written in that genre. For me, the more important part is the more interesting characters. I look at the character first, then I look at the piece. People write for this genre because it’s interesting, because it allows us to express ourselves in a way that we can’t in another genre," he said.
Childhood's End's third part airs for the first time tonight. Syfy will replay the series in its entirety this weekend, as well.