Julian McMahon: Why He Left His Biggest Franchise

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By Rick Gonzales

Julian McMahon is no stranger to television or feature films. The 52-year old actor has been around the block a time or two, most notably gaining fame with his work on the fabulous TV series Nip/Tuck. But Nip/Tuck isn’t all he is known for.

JULIAN MCMAHON RETIRES FROM THE FBI

Julian McMahon

When Julian McMahon was offered the chance to lead the crime drama series FBI: Most Wanted, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. In 2020, he said via AmoMama, “When you get something from Dick Wolf, it’s not something you just casually look at.” For three seasons, McMahon played Jess Lacroix, head of the FBI’s Most Wanted unit.

Julian McMahon
Julian McMahon on FBI: Most Wanted

But in January 2022, the news broke that Julian McMahon was exiting the series, with Dylan McDermott of The Practice fame taking his place. McDermott reportedly won’t be playing LaCroix but an entirely new character. The most specific reason offered for McMahon’s departure was the actor’s statement citing “additional creative pursuits.” He added that this was not a sudden decision, but one he and the show’s producers had been discussing for months. Hopefully, McMahon will find another great role in its absence.

AUSTRALIAN ROYALTY

Julian McMahon

Julian McMahon was born in Australia and is the son of the former 20th Prime Minister of Australia, Sir William McMahon. Having grown up in Australia, it stands to reason Julian McMahon would get his start in film and television in Australia. Before that though, McMahon was a model. Losing interest early on with his studies in Law and Economics, he jumped over to a modeling career that saw him travel and model in the main fashion capitals such as London, New York City, Milan, Paris, and Rome.

It was also during this time that Julian McMahon began to venture over to the film side of the business, appearing in commercials. He turned his commercial experience into his first television appearance on the Australian daytime soap opera The Power, The Passion. It was a brief stint but one that propelled him into his next series venture, this one titled Home and Away, another Australian soap opera. This role was significant for Julian McMahon on a personal level as one of his co-stars was singer, actress Dannii Minogue, sister of pop singer Kylie Minogue, who would eventually be his first wife.

JULIAN MCMAHON LANDS IN AMERICA

Charmed

McMahon’s first leap onto the American TV screen came in 1993 when he joined the cast of the popular (at the time) soap opera Another World. After a brief interlude (of almost three years), Julian McMahon found himself back in front of the camera as Detective John Grant in the successful TV series Profiler. The series, which also starred one of The Goonies‘ Fratelli brothers Robert Davi, brought McMahon some well-deserved attention as it lasted four seasons.

Julian McMahon
Julian McMahon on Profile

As McMahon’s star was on the rise, Profiler was ending. Fear not, though, because Julian McMahon already had his next project lined up. This would be on the witchy affair, Charmed. His first appearance as Cole Turner on the hit show came during the series’ third season and would last McMahon four in total, with a return appearance in the show’s seventh season, its 150th episode. One reason for his early departure could be that his next big project was the one that truly made a name for himself.

NIP/TUCK

Nip Tuck

Nip/Tuck was the big one. The series was created by Ryan Murphy, who would go on to create such massive hits The New Normal, Glee, American Horror Story, Scream Queens, and Pose. The series told the story of two talented but flawed plastic surgeons who run the McNamara/Troy plastic surgery center.

Julian McMahon
Julian McMahon on Nip/Tuck

Julian McMahon played Dr. Christian Troy, who seemed to run more on the edge than his counterpart, Dr. Sean McNamara, played by Dylan Walsh. The series was well known for its graphic content of plastic surgeries as well as its many adult themes (i.e. lots of sex). But it was an immediate hit, one that lasted for six seasons.

Dr. Doom
Julian McMahon as Dr. Doom

With most of his attention focused on Nip/Tuck, Julian McMahon still was able to move on to a few other projects during his Nip/Tuck days. Most notably he was the villainous Victor Von Doom/Doctor Doom in the 2005 movie Fantastic Four and then reprised the character in the 2007 feature film follow-up, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Also during this time, he was seen in Premonition and Prisoner.

JULIAN MCMAHON AFTER NIP/TUCK

Julian McMahon

With the success of Nip/Tuck, one would think that Julian McMahon would have more on his plate. Maybe the fact that he was so successful in the TV series is why he wasn’t seen in much following the show’s end. He could afford to be a bit choosier.

He followed Nip/Tuck with the Bruce Willis-Morgan Freeman-led feature RED, which also boasted Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, and Karl Urban as co-stars. Things slowed down significantly for McMahon after RED, as he appeared in only a handful of features. These included Faces in the Crowd, Bait, Fire with Fire, and Paranoia.

On the TV side of things, where McMahon seems to have a better footing, he moved on to the series Full Circle. He then found some time on Hunters, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and then finally Marvel’s Runaways playing Jonah, a.k.a. Magistrate, the bad guy we love to hate.  

MARRIAGE TIMES THREE

Julian McMahon’s personal life has been a fairly active one if you consider three marriages as such. As previously mentioned, McMahon was briefly married to Dannii Minogue but divorced after only 18 months.

Dannii Minogue
Dannii Minogue

His second marriage, to Brooke Burns, lasted only a bit longer, long enough for the couple to see the birth of McMahon’s only child, Madison. To both McMahon and Burns’ credit, they have raised their daughter together seemingly without any strife or issue. They have and continue to see eye-to-eye on how to properly parent the now 19-year old college student.

It was Madison who helped her father propose to his then long-time girlfriend (and now wife number three) during a trip to Paris. Julian McMahon, who at the time had been dating model Kelly Paniagua for 11 years, planned to pop the question when they arrived in Paris. But after discussing the matter with his then 14-year old daughter, McMahon abruptly changed his mind and popped the question right there on the airplane. Thankfully, Paniagua said yes and six months later the couple tied the knot in a ceremony in Lake Tahoe, California.

FBI NO MORE

Since 2019, Julian McMahon has been part of CBS’ FBI family. McMahon made his FBI debut on an episode titled, Most Wanted, which ended up being a backdoor pilot for McMahon’s entry into the FBI: Most Wanted series. McMahon appeared in 43 episodes before his fate was sealed in a shocking twist that took fans by surprise.

Series writer and executive producer David Hudgins explains McMahon’s exit, one that McMahon had requested. “In the writers’ room, we discussed many different scenarios, but ultimately, we kept coming back to this idea that in a way it serves the premise of the show, which is on Most Wanted we are hunting the most dangerous of the dangerous, right?,” Hudgins said via CinemaBlend. “These are the most wanted guys. It’s an extremely dangerous job. And you know, there’s always the risk in the job, of getting hurt on the job. And so we felt like to honor that, that this was the way to go and to have this exit done in a heroic way. I mean, he dies [to] save the woman that they’re rescuing.”

As for McMahon, the end of his character, Special Agent Jess LaCroix, came at his own request. McMahon felt it was time to move on and work on other projects. “Over the past few months, the producers of FBI: Most Wanted and I have had discussions about my departure from the show in favor of additional creative pursuits and the transition of my character Jess LaCroix,” McMahon said earlier this year in a statement to Deadline. “These ongoing conversations have given us an opportunity to orchestrate a seamless and productive way for me to leave the show.” Seamless and heartbreaking for sure.

What may be more of a shock, though probably not, is who has been tapped to be McMahon’s replacement on the series. Dylan McDermott was brought in to replace McMahon in what, to some, may be a surprising move.  Before his move to FBI: Most Wanted, McDermott had been seen on Law & Order: Organized Crime as bad guy Richard Wheatley. Of course, both shows are from the mind of creator Dick Wolf, so in that respect, they are technically connected, but McDermott’s character, Supervisory Special Agent Remy Scott, is definitely not Wheatley.

As for Julian McMahon, his wish was granted and on he moves. Next up for the former Victor Von Doom/Doctor Doom is a film titled Justice. The movie will be set in 1866 Goldfields Victoria and see McMahon play an Irish settler who teams up with a Chinese miner to exact some revenge on those who murdered his family.