The 75-year-old living legend gets emotional with ET's Rachel Smith about the late Cicely Tyson.
Ben Vereen is a living legend and he's gearing up for the end of B Positive, where he plays Peter, a retired professor struggling to cope with early dementia while living in an assisted living facility. On Thursday's sophomore finale of the CBS comedy, Gina (Annaleigh Ashford) is torn after getting an offer to sell Valley Hills to a rival assisted living residence. Meanwhile, Drew (Thomas Middleditch) prepares to leave on his big trip to Alaska. The half-hour sitcom also stars Jane Seymour and Hector Elizondo.
"The magic in the room is unexplainable because it's just energy. It's coming together of great energy of love. And when it hits, it ignites the entire lot," the 75-year-old actor told ET's Rachel Smith on March 7 in New York City. "All of Warner Bros. lights up when we are together because we come with our experiences and we come together for a purpose. And that's what I love about the show is to be positive. Although we are living in assisted living and I try to tell young people, this is where y'all going to be now. Get ready, pay attention. We're giving you the tools and to let you know that assisted living can be a groovy place. Some people choose it... that's where they go to their home. So let's make it a wonderful celebration of the life we've lived on this beautiful planet."
Vereen opened up about his character's journey as he hides his fading memory loss from others in the assisted living facility.
"Peter deals with that and we'll see what happens down the line," he teased. "That's what I love about this show is that you can see and watch the progress of the elders as they begin to go through their phase of going home. It's beautiful. It's dependent on each other, different factors of life they've come from in order to make this happen. Although we thought it started with a blood type, but B Positive -- we need to have that consciousness now in our lives, for the world. Be positive. Don't believe what you see. Be positive, who you are to be."
He acknowledged that Peter's arc on B Positive has common threads to his real life. As he revealed to ET, his mother had dementia and Alzheimer's before she died.
"It was horrible watching it, for us out on the outside," he shared. "From the inside of her mind, she was dealing with what she had to deal with... I forget a line, I get scared. 'Oh my god, it's happening. It's happening, oh no!'"
Though the show has not been formally picked up for a third season, Vereen has hopes for Peter if there is one.
"I'd like to see him get more into the phases of what people have to go through, who are living with that secret that comes upon to the point where they don't know themselves because the mind takes over," he said. "So I'd like the audience to watch that process and see if there is a rebound in that arena, for all of us. And if I can display that through this character, my job is done."
Vereen also looked back on his decades-long career, having made his debut in Pippin nearly 50 years ago. He admitted it does not feel like it's been half a century since his stage role, which earned him a Tony Award in 1973. "No, it does not," he confessed. "It's like I say, 'Where did the time go?' My body doesn't feel that way, but my mind, I just started."
Four years later, he was nominated for an Emmy for his performance as Chicken George in 1977's Roots. "It has become a piece of history," Vereen stated, crediting everyone who made the iconic miniseries happen. "Having the courage to say, 'We're going to put this on the show.'"
"My life changed. Everybody's lives changed," he acknowledged of the miniseries' impact.
Vereen got emotional when speaking about the late Cicely Tyson, who played Binta in Roots. "This was a goddess on Earth," he paid tribute as he teared up during the interview. "She was kind... and such a teacher in her work. Oh god, I loved -- I love Cicely Tyson."
The B Positive finale airs Thursday, March 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
To stay up to date on breaking TV news, sign up for ET's daily newsletter.