Based on the 2011 Bradley Cooper movie of the same name, CBS’s Limitless tells the story of musician Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) who discovers the brain-boosting power of the drug NZT, that enables him to use 100% of his brain capacity. He is persuaded by the FBI to work with them on solving complex cases, but unbeknownst to them, he is also in contact with Senator Edward Morra (Bradley Cooper, in a recurring role) another NZT user, who has his own plans for his new protégé.

Jake McDorman portrayed Navy SEAL Ryan ‘Biggles’ Job in Bradley Cooper’s Oscar nominated movie American Sniper, and Cooper immediately felt McDorman was perfect to star in the Limitless TV series. Jake and the show’s Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, Transformers) came to the TV Critics tour to talk about their new drama, which premieres on September 22nd 2015.

How did this series come about?

Limitless - Alex Kurtzman
Limitless – Alex Kurtzman Executive Producer ©2015 Courtesy of Alex Kurtzman

Alex Kurtzman: Relativity had made the movie, and they had been thinking about turning it into a television show for a while, (but) you have to do it for a reason beyond the fact that it was a successful movie.

There has to be something deep in the show, in the DNA of it, that feels like it’s made for TV, and then there’s room for a continued story.

How does this translate from a movie to a TV series?

Alex: The movie had such a definitive and wonderful style. I think everybody across the board at CBS felt like it would be an amazing challenge to try and achieve a version of that on television, because there’s really nothing like it on television.

We all had the benefit of actually working with the producers who had done the movie as well, so there was really nice continuity there.

We had an amazing director in Marc Webb who has done a lot of movies and also came out of music videos and just understands how to put that soup together in a beautiful way.

So we are really endeavoring to give you a feature-quality look to the show every week.

Limitless, 100 - Jake McDorman
Limitless, 100 “Pilot” – Musician Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Jeff Neumann

Jake, is it a nice opportunity for you as an actor to play this character when he’s on NZT and then just as Brian Finch?

Jake McDorman: It’s one of the most attractive parts of the character as a whole. You do have two different versions of Brian. But it’s also not like it’s a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde, you wake up from being on NZT and don’t remember anything.

You do retain the experiences you have on NZT that do influence who you are off the drug, and that’s a challenge that’s really fun to play to rise to the occasion on screen.

Bradley Cooper is an Executive Producer on this series and reprises his role as Eddie Morra in the pilot, can you talk about meeting with him?

Limitless, 100 - Jake McDorman
Limitless, 100 “Pilot” – Brian Finch’s (Jake McDorman) life takes an extraordinary turn when he uses a mysterious drug ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Jeff Neumann

Jake: Yeah. When Bradley first talked to me about the role, he was like, ‘One of the funnest parts of the movie Limitless was that I got to explore how he is on NZT, how he is off NZT.”

Bradley is just such a great resource, because there are a couple of rules when you’re on NZT that would  affect anybody who takes the pill similarly, like your posture improves. You make more eye contact. Every gesture is very deliberate.

But then when you’re off NZT, it’s kind of a playground. You can paint the character however you want based on the clues that Craig (Sweeney, the show’s Executive Producer) gives me.

Had you seen the movie before you shot the pilot?

Jake: I had seen the movie, so I had that to go off of already.

I loved the movie, and I was really glad they weren’t remaking the movie, because being recast in the role of Eddie Morra would be a lot more pressure to play Bradley Cooper in the show than just being able to have a fresh start.

Limitless, 100 - Jake McDorman
Limitless, 100 “Pilot” – Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Jeff Neumann

Jake McDorman Soundbyte

Jake was asked how his role of Brian Finch defers from Bradley’s character of Eddie Morra in the movie? Click here to listen to Jake’s answer