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 7, “Limbo,” Stephen not only tries to handle a new and dangerous breakout on his own, finding himself in over his head and needing help from his fellow Tomorrow People, but he also has a moment of clarity when it comes to his father, and is more determined than ever to figure out what happened to him.
During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, actor Robbie Amell talked about how he found out that they got a full season order of episodes for the freshman series (it involves being naked in his kitchen), what fans can expect from the next few episodes, how much fun he has doing the more playful scenes with Aaron Yoo and Madeleine Mantock, how Stephen’s mother will start to play a bigger role, as information about his father starts to come out, having Alexa Vega on the show as a bad-ass Ultra agent, how great it is to have such a loyal fan following, and some of the stand-out fight sequences coming up. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
ROBBIE AMELL: Thank you very much!
How did you find out that you’d be getting the full season?
AMELL: I was standing naked in my kitchen. I had gotten back from the gym and I peeled off my clothes and was about to hop in the shower, and my phone buzzed with a missed call. I saw that it was from Phil Klemmer, our writer/producer/creator. I knew that we were finding out soon, but it was a holiday in Canada and it didn’t feel like it was a day we were going to find out. So, instead of calling him back, I just went to my computer, searched The Tomorrow People and clicked on news and there was nothing there. So, I called him back and he gave me the good news, and then I freaked out a little bit. Then, I finished going about my business and showered and got back to my day. But, it was great. I ended up making the rounds, calling my family and my friends, and let them know the good news ‘cause they’re all really strong supporters of me and the show. Everybody was really, really happy to hear about it.
It sounds like Stephen is going to be getting even further in over his head. What can you say to tease the next episode, “Limbo”?
AMELL: It feels like a different show. Watching Episodes 7 and 8, even feels like a long time ago now. We’re shooting Episode 12, and I’ve read Episodes 13 and 14. Our writers are so great. They really are pushing this universe. The episodes get less and less standalone and much more serialized, for the full linear plotline and the over-arching story, and I really feel like that starts this week, in Episode 7. You start to find out some more things about Stephen’s dad. You see him, for the first time, when it’s not in a flashback. Everything starts to move really fast, starting with the end of Episode 7. I think Episode 8 is the best episode I’ve seen, so far. I think it’s going to absolutely blow people away. And the show really starts to snowball. Stephen is losing. He’s totally losing this fight. He’s trying to save everybody and he’s trying to help everybody, and while doing that, he’s really screwing up everything. I think he’s in way over his head. He can’t balance all these lives. And it only gets worse, moving forward.
There are a couple of issues simmering now, that could cause some problems. One is the fact that the other Tomorrow People don’t know that John (Luke Mitchell) can kill, and the other is what’s going on between Stephen and Cara (Peyton List). How do you see each of those things affecting the others, and Stephen’s relationships with them?
AMELL: The Stephen and Cara thing wraps up even faster than it started. You’ll find out very quickly, in Episode 7, that Cara and John may have a stronger relationship than it seemed like they did in Episode 6. Cara shuts Stephen down, hardcore. With how dangerous and how high the stakes are on the show, you know that John can kill is going to come to light, sooner or later. It’s just a matter of time before he has to kill to save the lives of the other Tomorrow People. There’s just too much at stake and there’s just too much danger surrounding them, at all times.
What’s it been like to do some of the more playful scenes between Stephen and Russell, that you’ve gotten to do with Aaron Yoo?
AMELL: I love my scenes with Aaron and Madeleine [Mantock], who plays Astrid. I feel like it’s the most human that you see Stephen because they seem to be the only two people he lets his guard down with. With Cara, there’s always the sexual tension and the fact that she’s one of the leaders of The Tomorrow People with John. There’s a love triangle problem with Cara. And with John, he is the leader of The Tomorrow People and he has his opinions about Stephen, and they always butt heads. With Jedikiah (Mark Pellegrino), Stephen is always lying to him and just trying to solidify his place at Ultra. Stephen is not being honest with his mom, and it doesn’t feel like she’s being completely honest with him, about his father. With Russell and Astrid, it’s the only two people he can really let his guard down and almost have some fun with. I love those scenes. I always have fun shooting with those two.
A few episodes were needed to give some backstory to each of The Tomorrow People, but now that there’s been an opportunity to do that, will viewers start to see Stephen’s family more, and will they begin to play a bigger role?
AMELL: Absolutely! You don’t see her in Episode 7, but you do find some stuff out about his dad. And then, you find out a lot about his dad in Episodes 8 and 9. We would have had his mom (Sarah Clarke) in some of those episodes, but she was shooting a pilot for AMC. But, she’s back and will be a heavy part of the second half of the season, after the holidays. You find out that she is hiding information from Stephen about his father and what she knows. I read a couple of scripts that really blew me away.
AMELL: Absolutely! Somebody is going to hold her hostage, or something. It’s the classic superhero problem. Not that Stephen is a superhero, but he’s got these powers and he’s trying to balance these lives. When the person closest to him finds out about his powers, you just know that she’s going to be used against him, at some point. I feel like it’s just a ticking time bomb before Astrid becomes a target or a liability, and Stephen is going to have to save her and try not to give himself up at the same time.
What can you say about Alexa Vega’s character and how much of a rival she’ll be?
AMELL: I am so excited for Alexa to be on the show. We knew each other because my girlfriend shot a movie with her, and then we did a TV movie with each other, right before the show started. She got to see the pilot and loved it, and the producers knew who she was and that we were friends. So, when this role came up, they just offered it to her. We were so lucky that she was available. We’re shooting her second episode, and she is a bad-ass Ultra agent. She’s Stephen’s rival at Ultra, and she’s a conniving bitch. She’s only looking out for her own good. I wouldn’t call her a villain, but she’s definitely not a friend, at this point.
What’s it been like to know that, with just a few episodes on the air, you’ve already established this really loyal, dedicated and very vocal fan following for the show?
AMELL: It’s great! It’s something you hope for. When we were at Comic-Con and people showed up for the screening and really responded well to it, it was my first taste of what I hoped would be the fan base and the consensus about the show. Our fans have been fantastic. We’ve been tweeting with them every week, and they’ve been giving us great feedback on Facebook and Twitter. We ask them what they think, what they like and what they don’t like, and the writers and creators all really take their suggestions into account. Some of them I completely agree with, some of them I don’t. It’s a shame ‘cause some things that they point out as plot holes, or why something worked or didn’t work, sometimes it just comes down to editing. We don’t have enough time to include everything we’ve shot. In Episode 6, there was a part that we didn’t show. People were asking why Piper (Aeriél Miranda) and Stephen didn’t just teleport away before Darcy (Meta Golding) got shot, but there was a small cut-away scene that they didn’t show where he was trying to teleport Piper away and she was fighting him. We’re fading in and out, and he’s talking to Cara and saying, “I’m trying to jump, but she won’t let me.” It turns out that, if a Tomorrow Person is with you and doesn’t want to teleport, you can’t teleport. So, she was holding Stephen back, and then Darcy got killed and fell right beside us, and that’s when she gives up and lets us teleport away. It was too bad [that got cut], but it’s all part of the game.
AMELL: Episode 7 has a couple great fights that I’m sure all the John and Cara supporters have been waiting for, since the end of Episode 6 when we hook up. John beats the crap out of Stephen in Episode 7. I feel like Stephen got a couple shots in, but he beats the crap out of him. And then, the villain of Episode 7 is actually a Tomorrow Person rapist. He does some damage, but he eventually gets what’s coming to him.
When I spoke to Phil Klemmer a few weeks ago, he talked about how you originally went in to audition for John, but that it turned out that you were much more suited to play Stephen. Now that you’re a ways into the season, could you imagine what it would have been like, if you’d have ended up getting cast as John, instead of Stephen?
AMELL: I wouldn’t have booked it. Luke [Mitchell] is much better for the role. It’s funny, I actually saw him when I went in for it. I originally felt that I wasn’t right for John. I thought I was much more suited for Stephen, but who am I to argue with Greg Berlanti. So, I went in and read and I saw Luke, and I thought, “That’s the type of person I imagine for John.” I didn’t know Luke at the time. And then, I saw him at the screen test and was like, “This guy is probably gonna get it.” Luckily enough, Peter Roth made the phone call and said that he saw me more as Stephen, and he decided to bring me in for that. I really think that Luke was perfectly cast. I do think I’m a little old for Stephen, but it’s a TV show and it’s on The CW, and it really doesn’t leave in high school. The most high school that you see is in Episode 7, and most of the guys that play opposite me in high school are older than me, anyway. My only concern is that I probably should be a little younger, but the stakes in the show are so high and the character has been through so much that I really don’t think he’s like a high school kid, anyway.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned about your character since you started playing him?
AMELL: You know, I’m still learning about him, as I go along. Every time I read a script, I find out a little bit more. He’s definitely got a bit of a temper. He runs a little hot. He likes to run in, head first, and not ask any questions, which definitely gets him into trouble. But, the thing that I relate to most is just the desire to try to help everybody. He’s very close with his family and they come first, but he can’t turn his back on his friends. And then, he’s got this longing to figure out what happened with his dad and where he is. Nothing he knew about him turns out to be true, so he needs to know what’s going on. I really relate to those things. I have a fantastic relationship with my dad. If I didn’t, or if it turned out to be that the things I knew about him weren’t true and he was gone, I don’t know what I would do. I would be a man on a mission to find out what the truth is.
Does it get easier to shoot the teleportation scenes, or are they always awkward to do?
AMELL: No, they’re way easier. We’ve got it down to a science now. The thing is that when new directors in, we have to explain to them how we teleport.
The Tomorrow People airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.