Last week's flashback-heavy episode of The Tomorrow People forever altered my expectations of what the series can achieve and the super-powered show goes from strength-to-strength with tomorrow's all-new episode, which reveals John's pre-pilot past.
Titled Kill or Be Killed, the hour focuses on John's storied history with Jedikiah and reinforces the show's interest in "brothers," be they biological or theoretical. I caught up with star Luke Mitchell to talk about delving into John's past, why it's important for the past to be present on this future-skewing series and to get his take on executive producer Greg Berlanti's comments about this show's frequent -- and unplanned -- shirtless scenes.
ETonline: Peyton List told me that last week's Cara-centric flashback episode was the first time she learned those things about her character's past. Given how amazing her backstory was, did that make you even more excited to find out what John's past was?
Luke Mitchell: Absolutely. As soon as I found out episode 4 was about my character, I was giddy with excitement. For any actor it's an exciting thing to be able to flesh out the character you're playing, especially so early in a series. It gives you so much more to play, but given the way episode 4 unfolds, I was smiling from ear-to-ear reading the script. It started to shine a light on the history between John and Jedikiah, which was alluded to in the pilot, but I didn't know the full depth of it until I got this script. And the episode doesn't give you the full story, but it certainly sets the stage.
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ETonline: What do you enjoy the most about John's backstory?
Mitchell: It sets him apart from the other Tomorrow People. It illuminates the fact that John doesn't have a family apart from The Tomorrow People, so it goes a long way towards explain his drive and his eagerness to keep everyone together and keep them safe. It also explains his passion for fighting against Ultra. It's very interesting to see where John came from and see how he went from A to B to C to D. It's going to open a door for the audience to be really interested and invested in this relationship between John and Jedikiah.
ETonline: Yesterday Tomorrow People executive producers Phil Klemmer and Greg Berlanti did a Q&A where they said a lot of this season is about Stephen and John growing in opposite directions; Stephen's purity is being muddied by his exposure to these worlds while John is coming from the dark and going towards the light. What excites you about that?
Mitchell: It's exciting to see a character evolve because the characters you get invested in are the ones that show the most growth; it's exciting to see a character going from A to Z, and if a character can go all the way through the alphabet, so to speak, it's exciting to watch. Especially for a character like John, who comes from a darker place. To see him go towards the light is nice and something I hope the audience really responds to. I think most people are on a journey of improvement, and I think that's what you’re seeing with John. It's his evolution ... for lack of a better word [laughs]
ETonline: One of the other things Berlanti said in that Q&A was that they're often surprised that the script won't call for a shirtless scene, but somehow you and Robbie Amell end up with your tops off. Thoughts?
Mitchell: [laughs] I heard that he said that! I think it's hilarious. It kind of paints the picture that Robbie and I are walking into super serious scenes, stripping our clothes of and going, "You know what guys, I feel like we should be nude today!" The idea of that is hilarious, but it's not quite the truth. We just get told to take our shirts off and we never know where those directives are coming from in the chain of command. I can't recall a single scene where I decided to take off my shirt when someone has told me to wear a shirt. But in saying that, I've probably done one scene where it hasn't been necessary to have my shirt off. It is what it is.
ETonline: So there's some culprit between the writers' room in LA and the set in Toronto scribbling "takes shirt off" into all the scripts?
Mitchell: Yeah. They're going, "Let's put this in there and see if he'll do it just for fun!" [laughs]
ETonline: Beyond the shirtlessness, what are you excited for fans to see in the coming weeks?
Mitchell: Explicitly, I'm excited for them to go on the journey of John and Jedikiah -- I'm so interested to see everyone’s reactions. Episode 4 is the tip of the iceberg, the next time we delve back in there is episode 8, which is more flashbacks but it's not child John! I get to do the flashbacks, so it's more of a modern history and you see a lot more. The show is rapidly growing and our character relationships are becoming more intense and complicated and it doesn't slow down. I'm excited for people to strap in and enjoy the ride.
The Tomorrow People airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on The CW.