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 4, “Kill or Be Killed,” actor Jason Dohring is guest starring as Killian McCrane, Ultra’s most wanted man, who has emerged after years of being in hiding, looking for revenge and his former friend John Young (Luke Mitchell). During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, Dohring talked about how his character fits into the world of the show, why he’s become so spiteful since his time at Ultra, how much fun it is to play an unpredictable villain, just how complicated the fight scenes were, how The Tomorrow People shares some of the same creative team as Veronica Mars, and what it’s like to be a part of projects with such loyal fan bases. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
JASON DOHRING: Killian is sort of the dark version of John (Luke Mitchell). John and Killian are both, in a sick way, children of Jedikiah (Mark Pellegrino), who saved us and raised us, and then transformed us. We both deal with the pain and the pathology, in opposite ways. John seeks separation from humans, and Killian basically wants to wipe them off the face of the earth. So, there is that dichotomy, and that plays into the episode. It’s also the first time that it vindicates the agenda of the bad guy because Killian is this dangerous, unhinged paranormal who wants to inflict injury. But, it’s cool because he’s doing it out of revenge for the guy who trained and genetically programmed him to protect humankind.
In “Kill or Be Killed,” viewers will get John Young’s backstory for how he ended up at Ultra. Were you told much about why and how Killian ended up there, and what happened to him, in the past?
DOHRING: Yeah, and some of that comes out in the story, where it talks about their relationship and how maybe Jedikiah was nicer to John than he was to Killian, which gives further impetus for why he would be so spiteful. So, you’ll see a lot of that. And then, it’s called Ultra, so I just looked at that online. I came upon MK-Ultra, which is a government program that experimented on people, and I was wondering if the name was maybe taken from that. I was looking at some of the horrific things, and they kept tabs on everybody to see how they reacted under certain conditions. It’s something that would definitely cause one to have a negative opinion on life.
You’ve played a few characters who walk a pretty fine line with doing some questionable things, but this guy is someone who doesn’t really answer to anyone or for anything. Was it fun to get to play someone who really has no morality compass anymore?
DOHRING: Yeah, for sure. At the same time, you don’t want to play somebody who has unlimited freedom and can do whatever. That’s why it’s cool to have the relationship with John and the backstory. This is maybe his one last chance to reach out and see if he can get ahold of somebody who can understand him, whether that pans out or not. That’s what adds the interest, as an audience member. If he’s all bad, you’re like, “Okay, that guy’s bad.” But, if he’s walking a grey line and there’s something you can have some empathy for, it makes for a more two-dimensional character, instead of just, “Oh, that guy is terrible. He wants to kill everybody. He has no consideration for mankind, at all.”
You have a couple intense fight scenes in this episode. What sort of training and rehearsal did you have for those?
DOHRING: I thought I was really good at fights because I’ve played bad guys. I was like, “This is cool. I’ve got this.” They wanted me to show up a day early, which I thought was just crazy. I was like, “I can just learn it on the day.” It’s like a Britney Spears dance, but fighting. Not only is everything choreographed, but you’re actually doing it with your stunt guy, and then also with the other actor. So, on the day, we were both working with our stunt guys and Luke got hit in the forehead, and he had to go to the hospital and get stitches. And then, they put make-up on him and he shot that day with me. It was crazy!
We have the guys from 300 doing the stunts, which definitely shows in the episode. It’s definitely much more of a Matrix-type fight scene, instead of a huge John Wayne, swinging punches type of thing, which is what I was used to, where you have to just get a punch. But, this had blocks and catches, and then in the middle, they spray you with this air gun for the teleporting, and you stop the scene and walk around to wherever you were going to teleport to, and you resume the scene. Sometimes you do that three or four times in the scene, so you have this broken scene. It was just so interesting, as an actor.
Even though the final product looks totally bad-ass, it must feel a bit awkward and goofy to do the effects that aren’t there?
DOHRING: Oh, you have no idea! You get sprayed in the face with air, and you’re pretending you’re walking through something, so you have to stumble like a drunk, but it will look cool. Everybody is telling you, “Oh, it’s gonna be awesome, dude! It’s gonna look great!” And you’re like, “All right.”
You also have another project that people are very excited about, with the Veronica Mars movie. With all of the talk about that happening, for so many years, did you believe that that was actually ever going to happen, until the moment you got on set, the first day?
DOHRING: No, of course not! There’s something funny with the Veronica Mars family. This show has Phil Klemmer and Guy Bee, who directed several of the Veronica Mars episodes. These guys show up on different shows, and I’ve worked with them quite a bit since then. It’s funny, but I don’t feel like it’s necessarily the end, necessarily, even though the movie has been shot. I just wrote to Phil before this, and he had some very kind words. He’s just been great to work with on this project. They’re just good people that I like to continue to work with.
And both projects have such loyal fan bases.
DOHRING: Oh, yeah! It’s wonderful. And this is a quality show, for real. It’s good to be a part of it. This will be the first other Tomorrow Person that’s revealed. It’s pretty cool.
The Tomorrow People airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.