By Sydney Bucksbaum
July 20, 2020 at 09:09 PM EDT

MacGyver (2016 TV series)

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MacGyver star Lucas Till says the series' former showrunner Peter Lenkov created a hostile work environment, driving him to become "suicidal" during the first season of the CBS drama.

In a new Vanity Fair piece detailing Lenkov's alleged toxic behavior that reportedly led to his ousting from CBS' MacGyver, Hawaii Five-0, and Magnum P.I. earlier this month, Till claimed Lenkov drove him to his "breaking point" through bullying and verbal abuse that included body-shaming.

"I’ve never worked this hard in my life, and I am fine with hard work," Till told the outlet. "But the way Peter treats people is just unacceptable. I was suicidal that first year on the show because of the way he made me feel. But the way he’s treated the people around me — that’s just my breaking point."

Credit: Presley Ann/Getty Images; Francis Specker/CBS via Getty Images

The actor says he approached top CBS executives multiple times about Lenkov's alleged behavior toward him and others who worked on the show and sent a five-page letter about it to the head of Human Resources.

"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," Till's letter said. "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."

A MacGyver source told Vanity Fair, "Peter has a thing against Lucas, you know? He just does. I witnessed Lucas change dramatically throughout this period, and it really hurt me. I hated seeing this happen with him because he’s a great guy, and there’s nothing wrong with him or his body."

Till said that he thought HR "just took it as some crazy actor trying to get more money. Essentially, they didn’t take it seriously." But a source with knowledge of the situation tells Vanity Fair that Till's comments sparked an HR investigation that led to Lenkov's firing.

But one of Lenkov’s lawyers, Dale Kinsella, says that Till’s allegations are "100 percent false and untrue" and that Lenkov "has championed him from the very beginning and has been nothing but supportive of him."

Earlier this month, Lenkov was fired from all three shows amid allegations that he was a toxic leader on and off the set.

"Peter Lenkov is no longer the executive producer overseeing MacGyver and Magnum P.I., and the studio has ended its relationship with him," according to a statement from CBS TV Studios, which produces the dramas for CBS. "Monica Macer will be the showrunner on MacGyver, and Eric Guggenheim will run Magnum P.I. Both are currently executive producers on their respective series."

In response to allegations that Lenkov was an abusive leader, the studio 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."

After he was fired, Lenkov released a statement: "Now is the time to listen and I am listening. 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."

MacGyver is set to return for season 5 this fall, and Magnum P.I. will return for season 3. Hawaii Five-0 aired its series finale back in April.

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MacGyver (2016 TV series)

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