‘The Exorcist’: John Cho on the Horrors of Possession and Marcus & Tomas’ Arrival

     October 13, 2017

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Season 2 of the Fox horror series The Exorcist finds Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) and the newly collarless Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) taking their hunt for evil on the road. When Andrew Kim (John Cho), a widow and former child psychologist who runs a group home for at-risk foster children realizes that one of the children under his care is being targeted by a powerful and scary force, it will bring the two priests to them, in an attempt to keep evil from winning.

While at New York Comic-Con, actor John Cho got on the phone with Collider for this 1-on-1 interview, in which he talked about why he wanted to join the series, what he wanted to do and not do with his role, how he’s found the experience of playing father figure to this group of young actors, why it’s so scary when a child is possessed, that it will be a few episodes before we have total clarity about what’s going on, and how things will feel when Marcus and Tomas finally show up. He also talked about how, even though he hasn’t heard anything about a fourth Star Trek movie in the iteration that he’s a part of, he does think that the franchise will always be around, in some form.

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Image via Fox

Collider: I wondered how they were going to top last season, but the storyline and the addition of you to the show has been really interesting, in that regard.

JOHN CHO: I have to say that I was so impressed with the first episode and the way it cut together. What I realized was so brilliant about the writing was that you pick up Marcus and Tomas mid-exorcism and it allows some kinetic energy to start the show, but more importantly, it allows the Andy Kim introduction to take its sweet time. It needs its sweet time. So, you have that propulsion from the exorcism storyline, and then we can slowly start to turn the pages on the Andy Kim story. I’m very grateful because it’s an unusual opportunity to roll out a character as luxuriously as we’re doing here.

Because you really can jump in this season, even if you didn’t watch last season, and still understand what’s going on, those dual storylines also help to really give a sense of what this show.

CHO: It also sets up the tension, like when will they kiss? It’s coming. We’ve shot some of it and I can attest that it’s very powerful and very intense when their storylines do come together. It’s tragic.

When the possibility of this role on this show came your way, what sold you on it?

CHO: I didn’t know what the show was, so I watched an episode and was like, “Okay, this is a good show.” It was really well done. Beyond that, I was like, “Those are actors that I want to work with.” And then, it was, “Who am I playing?” When I met with Jeremy [Slater] and Sean [Crouch], they pitched me this character and what was going to happen, and it was very compelling and very grounded in reality. I know we’re in a show with demons, but it’s grounded in emotional reality. The last thing for me was their love of the show and their love of the characters. It was infectious.

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Image via Fox

Were there things that you wanted to do with this character and were there things that you didn’t want to do with this character, as far as who he is or just horror cliches, in general?

CHO: I didn’t really have any specific stuff, but when it came to the family, I didn’t want to do any character shorthand. I didn’t want to fall into any parent cliches, so I wanted to make his relationship with the children as real as possible to make the family feel familiar and real.

How have you been finding the experience of playing a father figure to these young actors?

CHO: It’s just been a delight, working with these kids. It’s something that felt very familiar to me, having children. Narratively, I feel like having these foster children, rather than a biological family, is such an interesting twist because it just seems more brittle and more fragile. I love it when the kids are there and we all work together ‘cause it’s just messy and crazy. They just start acting like a real family.

Just the idea of possession is frightening, but why do you think it’s always extra scary when young people are the victim that’s possessed?

CHO: I guess it’s the fact that when evil trains its eye on the most innocent among us, it’s much more terrible. As we get older and commit sins, you deserve punishment, but the fact that evil might seek out those that have not sinned is very frightening.

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Image via Fox

In Episode 2, we saw that whatever is inside of Caleb is already started to manipulate, by leading Andy to believe that whatever happened was Verity’s fault. How much more overt will the signs of Caleb’s possession get?

CHO: I cannot comment. I’ll leave it there. I can’t come up with a way to answer that safely. I think it will be a few episodes before we have total clarity.

As a result of this demonic force, Marcus and Tomas will have to come to the rescue, at some point. What can we expect from that dynamic? What will Andy think of them?

CHO: It’s gonna be an arc, in terms of what their relationship is, and it’s gonna change. It’s massive, when they finally deal with each other. We’ve shot some of that stuff and it’s been tremendous. The scenes have been so substantive and so fulfilling to play.

With Star Trek back on TV now, do you think there’s any chance that you’ll ever do a fourth film? Have you heard anything, one way or the other?          

CHO: I have not heard anything. I will say that I think that Star Trek is gonna keep going. I don’t know in what iteration, but there’s something essentially appealing about that set-up. Star Trek assumes the best of our species. We need Star Trek to exist in our culture, and I think it will. It will always have a place. I have no idea whether I’ll be returning or whether they’ll do more of our particular iteration, but I’m very confident that Star Trek will keep going and going.

The Exorcist airs on Friday nights on Fox.

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