The new CW drama series The Tomorrow People follows a generation of humans born with paranormal abilities, who are the next evolutionary leap of mankind. Up until a year ago, Stephen (Robbie Amell) was a “normal” teenager, but then he learned that he is part of a genetically advanced race with the abilities of telekinesis, teleportation and telepathic communication, and that this race is being hunted down by a paramilitary group of scientists known as Ultra.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, Aussie actor Luke Mitchell (who plays John Young, the rebellious leader of The Tomorrow People) talked about how excited he is to be working on a show with so many twists and turns, what originally attracted him to this series, how his original audition was one of the worst he’s ever done, what’s it like to have the support of the creator of the original British series that it’s based on, that his character is a good guy with a dark and complicated past, and how much fun it is to get to do so many action sequences on the show. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
LUKE MITCHELL: Yeah, that was the general feeling amongst the cast, after the pilot was done. And then, once we got picked up, we were all just so excited. We don’t know where this series is going to go. We’re all just in for the ride. We’re half-way through shooting Episode 9 now, and there are twists and turns in every episode, and big things that happen. I feel like each episode is literally bigger and better than the last.
With being your first pilot season, I’m sure you read a number of different shows, some of which were more interesting and seemed better suited to you that others. What was it about The Tomorrow People that appealed to you?
MITCHELL: It just read so well. There were a number of pilots that I read where it was a battle to get through it and understand it. Whereas with this one, I couldn’t put it down. Once I picked it up, I read it and was like, “Wow, that’s so cool!” And then, I read through it again, once I got cast in the role, and I had the same reaction, but then, I was like, “Oh, wait, that’s my character getting to do that! That’s me now! This is gonna be fun!”
What was pilot season like for you, being your first crack at it? Was it just a crazy whirlwind and bizarrely foreign experience?
MITCHELL: That’s pretty much exactly how I would describe it. I was prepared. I was told and warned about how stressful and hectic pilot season can be, especially for your first time. So mentally, I think I was prepared. I was ready to work hard for a long period of time, before I got any sort of break, or anything like that. So, to get a job about two or three weeks in was just crazy. I worked hard during that time, but pilot season goes for two or three months and not everyone gets a job. It was crazy. It just happened so quickly. It was a lot of fun. The funny thing was that my original audition for The Tomorrow People was terrible. It was one of the worst auditions I’ve ever done. I was so thankful that, for whatever reason, they saw something in me that made them decide to bring me back, and I was so determined to prove my worth to them, in that callback. The moment I had that callback, I walked out of that room and called my manager and said, “Look, whatever happens, whether I get it or not, I just hit that out of the park. I don’t think that audition could have gone any better, and for that, I’m happy and I’m going to go have a beer.” It’s stressful to keep doing audition after audition after audition. You finish one and go to the next one, and you have to learn lines. For me, I have to work on my accent, so I was getting accent coaching and acting coaching. I wanted to make good impressions. So, when I was told that they liked me for this role, I was just blown away.
That’s great that they took the time to give you another chance and make sure they really found the right actor for each role.
MITCHELL: I agree. I think we all fit our roles pretty well and I couldn’t be more excited about playing John Young. It’s the most exciting role that I’ve ever played. It’s stretching me more than I’ve ever been stretched, in a good way. There’s just so much to do, so much to play with, and so much complexity. It’s not a straightforward, simple character. It’s great. I get to do a rainbow of scenes and emotions. It really is an actor’s dream.
The concept for this show is taken from a 1970s British series, but it feels more like a modern take on the idea than a remake. What’s it like to know that this show has the support of the original creator, Roger Damon Price, and that one of the original actors wanted to be a part of it?
MITCHELL: It’s a really special feeling to have their approval. Without their show, we wouldn’t have a show because it’s based on the same premise. Yes, we’ve modernized it and we’ve updated it, and we’re not trying to make an exact replica, but it’s great to have a nod from them. Nicholas Young is with us, at the moment, filming for Episode 9. He was at our premiere party, watching our first episode, and he said he’s seen it three or four times now and just loves it. It’s a nice feeling.
Since your character is a little more mysterious and there’s clearly some history there that we haven’t gotten to learn about yet, what can you say about what’s to come for John Young?
MITCHELL: It’s a very rocky ride. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the audience reacts. There’s a lot of explosive stuff that comes out. John is a good guy. Before I knew about the history, I played him as a good guy, and now that I know some of that history, I still play him as a good guy, even though there’s darkness there. It’s a complicated backstory. You’ll find out more about who he is and why he is the way he is.
MITCHELL: If Stephen and Cara (Peyton List) didn’t have a telepathic link to each other, it would be a much more straightforward math equation, seeing that Stephen is a Tomorrow Person and John wants to help all Tomorrow People, since they’re the same species. But, it becomes more complicated because Stephen is his father’s son, which you’ll find out a lot more about, in the coming episodes. It’s complicated when Stephen and Cara do have their telepathic link to each other because it’s hard to keep a cool head. You can’t help but feel jealous when your partner has this extra thing going on with someone else.
How cool is it to get to do these big action sequences in every episode? Is it just fun, or does it feel awkward when you throw in effects that aren’t actually there?
MITCHELL: Both. It’s amazing and it’s fun, and I get to be a kid again. I used to have a Superman costume, and I would jump off the top of the couch and pretend I could fly. It’s like reliving my childhood, which is awesome. I get to do so many fight scenes and so many different stunts myself, which is a great challenge and I’m learning heaps, all the time. There are times I have to do something when special effects are involved, and on the day, you do something and they tell you, “We’ll make that look good.” You feel bad-ass, and then you duck out of the frame of the camera and you feel childish again. It’s a weird, fun thing. We’re thrilled with the people behind the special effects. They’re fantastic at what they do.
The Tomorrow People airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.