MacGyver Star Lucas Till Says He Was Suicidal During the First Season Due to Showrunner's Abuse
Peter Lenkov was fired by CBS earlier this month
MacGyver star Lucas Till is opening up about the toxic work environment on set allegedly created by showrunner Peter Lenkov.
Till, 29, told Vanity Fair that Lenkov's mistreatment made him consider taking his own life.
"I’ve never worked this hard in my life, and I am fine with hard work," Till said.
"But the way Peter treats people is just unacceptable," the actor continued, telling the magazine that he experienced verbal abuse, bullying and body-shaming from the showrunner.
"I was suicidal that first year on the show, because of the way he made me feel," Till said. "But the way he’s treated the people around me—that’s just my breaking point."
Till added to Vanity Fair that when he brought up Lenkov's behavior to executives at CBS, he was dismissed.
"I think they just took it as some crazy actor trying to get more money," Till told the magazine. "Essentially, they didn’t take it seriously."
According to Vanity Fair, Till wrote in an email to HR at CBS that Lenkov, 56, constantly found problems with how he looked.
Till reportedly wrote in the email: "There was always something about my appearance that wouldn’t please him like when I was in a hospital gown and our producer…thought it was funny that [Lenkov] said my legs were ‘f—ing hideous’ and we can never show them again. Honestly, I found some humor in that comment as well, but you can imagine if that was a more sensitive spot that he had hit, and often did. Just like the time he screamed at [a director] ‘Oh, my f—ing God! Tuck his shirt in, he looks like a little f—ing boy.’ Just hire a 35 year old then. ... I’ve struggled with maintaining ‘man weight’ on the show because of the stress, no time to work out, and an unpredictable schedule for proper nourishment."
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Lenkov's attorney Dale Kinsella told Vanity Fair that Till's allegations are "100 percent false and untrue," and said that the showrunner "has championed [Till] from the very beginning and has been nothing but supportive of him."
Representatives for Kinsella, CBS and Till did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Lenkov was released from his position on MacGyver and Magnum P.I. earlier this month following investigations into his leadership.
"Peter Lenkov is no longer the executive producer overseeing MacGyver and Magnum P.I., and the studio has ended its relationship with him," said a statement from CBS TV Studios on July 7. The studio also announced that Lenkov would be replaced by Monica Macer on MacGyver and Eric Guggenheim on Magnum P.I.
CBS added, "our studio is committed to ensuring safe and respectful production environments. Over the past year, we have assigned human resource production partners to every show, expanded staff training and increased reporting options. We will continue to evolve our practices with continued focus on building trust with all who work on our sets. Every complaint is taken seriously, every claim is investigated, and when evidence is clear that policies were violated and values not upheld, we take decisive action."
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter at the time, Lenkov apologized.
"Now is the time to listen and I am listening," he said. "It's difficult to hear that the working environment I ran was not the working environment my colleagues deserved, and for that, I am deeply sorry. I accept responsibility for what I am hearing and am committed to doing the work that is required to do better and be better."
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.