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. In Episode 9, “Death’s Door,” John (Luke Mitchell) finds himself in a dangerous situation with Stephen unable to help without revealing himself to Ultra, while Cara (Peyton List) and Russell (Aaron Yoo) negotiate a trade with Jedikiah (Mark Pellegrino), which ultimately makes Jedikiah take a big risk.
During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, actor Mark Pellegrino talked about why he likes playing characters that live in the complicated grey territory, how many big shocking moments will be in the mid-season finale, what sort of relationship Jedikiah has with The Founder (Simon Merrells), working with Luke Mitchell, the very complicated family dynamic, and how he might personally react, if he found himself living with people who have powers when he doesn’t. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: Having played some great bad guys, and some great characters who live in the grey area, what was it about Jedikiah that ultimately made you sign on to play him? Did you have any idea that there would be so many unexpected twists and turns?
MARK PELLEGRINO: No, I did not. I was hoping that would be the case. But when I first signed on, I just had the pilot to go by and that showed me a very interesting dimensional character that came off, at first, as a very cold and efficient and, possibly, heartless guy who had one philosophy that he followed ruthlessly. But then, as you peeled back the layers and got below the bureaucratic persona, you saw something that was a lot deeper, a lot more complicated and a lot more personal. I like characters like that. I like characters that do big things boldly and are driven by intensely personal feelings. I like that complicated grey territory that Jedikiah seems to stop around in.
What can you say to tease this upcoming episode, “Death’s Door”? With it being the mid-season finale, are there some shocking moments?
PELLEGRINO: Oh, my god, there are! There’s one in particular that I can think of, that I wish I could tell you, but I can’t. John (Luke Mitchell) has been captured and is in the clutches of Ultra, and out of Jedikiah’s hands, really. The Founder (Simon Merrells) has taken over the interrogation, and that’s pretty formidable ‘cause you can’t pull the wool over that guy’s eyes, really. So, he is going to psychically rape John, and the Tomorrow People know it and have to try to save him. And what they have working in their favor is Morgan (Carly Pope). The question will be, “Does Jedikiah care enough about Morgan, if they try to use her to actually save John?” That is the question.
Will there be a cliffhanger ending to the episode?
PELLEGRINO: I think so. There’s going to be a confirmation of something, and also a cliffhanger. They always leave you hanging! I think people are going to be really excited to get back to the show.
Were you surprised that it’s turned out that Jedikiah isn’t the only one in charge of Ultra?
PELLEGRINO: No, I wasn’t too surprised. I was hoping for that, in a way. The Founder is a really bad guy. It’s logical that somebody of that stature would be over him, and perhaps taking things in directions that Jedikiah doesn’t agree with, or feels regretful about.
PELLEGRINO: You’re going to see it in Episode 9. There are going to be a couple things that will be introduced. They’re going to introduce some new elements in the show that I think you’ll find fascinating, and that will also possibly make you doubt everything Jedikiah says and does because of something I can’t tell you. But, The Founder and Jedikiah have a strange relationship. I think it’s the kind of relationship where it’s as if you start a club with somebody and the club takes on a life of its own, and does things that you didn’t really intend it to do. It might be what one of the founders of the club wanted to do, but it’s not what you wanted to do. You’re just caught in it, nonetheless. And I think that’s what happening between The Founder and Jedikiah. Jedikiah might be biding his time.
What’s it been like to work with Simon Merrells, and what do you think he’s brought to the show with that character?
PELLEGRINO: It’s great working with him. When we first had a cast dinner and he came, he and I just naturally sat down across from each other and started talking, and we talked the entire night and became friends, ironically, because I get the sense that we’re rivals, at the least, and enemies, at the most, and that comes across on the screen. It’s great working with him because he brings a great deal of almost Shakespearian stature to the part. It’s great to have that Vader-esque level of size.
One of the real highlights of the first half of the season has really been in getting to see the flashbacks to the history between Jedikiah and John. What do you enjoy about playing that relationship out, and how has Luke Mitchell been to play those scenes off of?
PELLEGRINO: He’s really sweet. It’s fun to work with him, and we’ve gotten to work together some more and delve more into the past between John and Jedikiah, in some of the episodes that are upcoming. It’s great to fill in that little piece of history and to see, “Oh, okay, there’s a reason why John couldn’t kill Jedikiah, when push came to shove.” You’ll be able to see, as the episodes progress, why that is. It’s not just saying, “He’s like a father to me.” There are things that Jedikiah did that weren’t just introducing John to the brutal side of life, but that are also really loving, as well.
There’s such an interesting family dynamic between Jedikiah and Stephen (Robbie Amell) because there’s no way for them to ever not be suspicious or distrustful of each other. How long can they mutually use each other, especially now that Jedikiah knows that Cara (Peyton List) still has powers?
PELLEGRINO: I think they can mutually use each other for 10 seasons. No. I think there’s more going on underneath the surface than Jedikiah is willing to admit. There’s not only just a loving familial connection, but one of the faculties that Jedikiah has, that makes him formidable, in my opinion, is his ability to act for something bigger than his own emotional life and bigger than his own feelings. And Stephen represents something much larger, in his connection with his brother and in something else that’s much larger. Jedikiah is willing to take the little hits, here and there, and be suspicious, and understand that the kid is growing and finding his way and his going to make mistakes and do things that hurt him, from his own loyalty, provided that we can help one another for this thing, down the line. You can’t say everything that you’d like to say when you’re at Ultra, and you can’t think everything that you’d like to think when you’re at Ultra ‘cause telepaths can get into your brain, feel your emotions, and sense what you’re thinking. You have to almost be a method actor, all the time.
Do you think Jedikiah sees Stephen and his friends as a threat now?
PELLEGRINO: Yeah, I think he does see them as a threat. In spite of his own personal experiences with good Tomorrow People, I think he’s seeing things in a big picture way. He sees that, in the bigger picture, irrespective of John and Stephen, there is so much potential for great harm to humanity that a group of them together and hidden, getting stronger and stronger, is a great liability that he has to take care of.
If you were in Jedikiah’s position, as the guy with no powers who knows that there are these people secretly living with powers, do you think that you would embrace them yourself, or would you want to defend your own race?
PELLEGRINO: I think those powers could be a tremendous benefit to humanity. Any power, of course, depends upon the values of the person exercising the power. It’s very hard to operate on a general philosophy of power. They say that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, but I don’t agree with that. I think you have to be corrupted to be corrupted by power. You are already corrupted and broken. And the stories show that broken people misuse their power while people who have values don’t use their powers in a way that harms. So, I think I’d be a little bit more circumspect. But, when you’re up against the clock and break-outs are happening, all the time, and it’s literally rushing in on you, you do what you have to do.
The Tomorrow People airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.