Fans have seen his face in many of their favorite franchises over the years, from Jacob, the spiritual embodiment of the island on Lost, to the king of all evil, Lucifer, on Supernatural. Mark Pellegrino is an instantly recognizable actor with an impressively long resume.
His current project, The CW’s The Tomorrow People, sees him once again taking on an antagonistic role as the cold-hearted head of Ultra, the organization tasked with tracking and hunting down people with telekinetic, telepathic and teleportation powers dubbed The Tomorrow People.
Warner Bros. TV was gracious enough to grant me some time with him to talk about this Monday’s episode along with what’s in store for Jedikiah for the rest of the season after his game-changing episode last week.
[spoilers ahead for last week’s episode, Endgame]
Big episode last week with Endgame, and it seems like things with Jedikiah are even less black and white than originally anticipated. Have you been approaching the character with this duality in mind since the beginning?
I’ve always approached the character that he is good and that he is doing the right thing. It just so happens that he’s a lot more complicated than we’ve seen since the very beginning and I like that. I think everybody has that duality anyway, and I think it’s appropriate that Jedikiah should as well.
It’s interesting because he has a very similar drive as Bishop. Bishop’s problem was one of a prodigal son problem in trying to bring his alienated son back into the fold. He was so accepting and loving and we saw later on that was probably because of his massive guilt he had for turning Aidan. I think there’s a similar problem with Jedikiah and John. He took a boy and as much as he cared about him, he used him for a larger purpose and that purpose nearly destroyed the kid and he’s got some major redemption he needs for that.
What I like about adversarial characters like Jedikiah is what’s at the heart of their adversarial-ness, I guess, are virtues and the desire to be redeemed and love, and I think that’s what makes him a complicated character. He’s in a very complex situation and really trying to struggle against powers that are physically and mentally and emotionally overwhelming.
You’re surrounded on the show by a cast of young and up-and-coming actors. What’s the relationships like on the set? Do they come to you for advice and do you guys all hang out?
We all get along very well and we hung out quite a bit at the beginning. But you know my family is here, my wife and my step-daughter, I live here in Vancouver so when they get together to have dinner, we are less often there then we were in the past, because I’m kind of a generation ahead of everybody. [laughs] But they’re good kids, you know. Humble. Really working hard at their craft. Even though we don’t socialize as much as we used to, I really enjoy working with them.
Something that is near and dear to me, superhero stories, have seen an incredible boom in recent years. The show takes influence from many of them, I think X-Men being the one that people most associate with show. But what do you think sets The Tomorrow People apart from all of these other properties that have flooded the market?
I think in the end it’s not about super-powers, it’s not about the bells-and-whistles or the fight scenes and all the stuff that make it seem like a comic book, it’s about the human relationships. What I think sets this show apart is that in the end, it’s about family and loyalty and the things that any other person in the world can very much relate to: betrayal and love. These are at the heart of everything and the rest just kind of revolves around it.
I think that’s what makes shows like Supernatural so good. It’s about the brothers in the end, even though there is all this crazy stuff going on around them. They have to do these heroic things because of all this stuff. But it’s about two brothers that love each other. Our story is about two brothers as well and we’re getting into the mystery of what their relationship has been, because it appeared it had been one way but now we’re discovering it was something else.
After the events of Endgame, Jedikiah has solidified an extremely powerful new enemy that has a strong vendetta against him in The Founder. Can you tell us anything about what this new rivalry has in store for the rest of the season?
Well, it seems like The Founder is convincing The Tomorrow People that the war was really manufactured by Jedikiah and that Jedikiah is actually taking The Founder off his intended purpose, which seems to be integrating The Tomorrow People into the world and bringing them from the subway lair into the real world to live a normal life.
So it’s going to be up to Jedikiah, without resources, now completely on his own outside of the circle of Ultra, to try to convince people, especially with Jedikiah’s track record, that that’s not in fact so, and The Founder has a deeper, more insidious plan in store for all of us. That they need to be with [Jedikiah], the one who seemingly terrorized them and ruled Ultra with an iron fist, but I think there’s a reason for that and hopefully that becomes clearer as the episodes progress, but there’s a reason Jedikiah did everything.
Jedikiah’s alleged motivation of wanting to steal Roger’s powers is something most fans can relate to, at least on some level, because who doesn’t want super-powers? If you personally could have any power, not just the ones in the show, but in any realm, what do you think you’d choose?
You know my heart says super-strength because I would love to…I just think there’s a few people out there that would need an ass-whuppin. With super-strength you could do it. Imagine with super-strength what you could do with a jag-off like Putin.
But then I think what would really be the saving grace of humanity, because I think that is what I would like to use my powers for – obviously I wouldn’t be trying to jump on Putin’s head if I didn’t want to use the powers for some kind of good – but I think I would want super-intelligence.
Wow, very interesting choice.
I’d rather have the biggest brain in the universe.
I’ve asked that question to a few other people and that’s the first time I’ve gotten that answer. But it makes sense because it would trump super-strength in almost any situation.
It does! If you get stranded on a desert island it’s not the super-strength that’s going to save you, it’s your rational mind. It teaches you to build a shelter and make a fire, eat, harvest from sands, you know, the things you need. Get water. That’s our tool of survival, so I want to have a really really big one.
Are you at all jealous that on a show full of people with super-powers that Jedikiah, so far to this date, doesn’t get to do any of the throwing stuff around with his mind or teleporting? Is that something you hope he gets to do down the road?
[lowers voice] I do hope he gets to do that down the road…[laughs]
You say that maniacally like you know something…
[laughs] I might know something.
It looks like Monday’s episode, Smoke and Mirrors, has Stephen and Jedikiah’s conflict reaching a fever pitch and Stephen’s family might be in the crosshairs. What can you tell me about the episode?
Yes, Jedikiah is out of the loop and on the lam and The Founder is the new boss in town, and he’s instituting some new rules and the new rules are pretty much the opposite of what Jedikiah had in place. It’s an open door policy. It’s one of compassion and open arms to all Tomorrow People and there may even be a peace negotiation between the two.
He seems interested in integrating The Tomorrow People into a normal life on this planet, something that Jedikiah didn’t seem prone to do, and now Stephen has the spectacle of The Founder’s words which are very profound and very benevolent, and Jedikiah’s actions which have been very questionable.
It’s going to be a very, very tough road, even if Jedikiah can win Stephen over, because Stephen is a major element to his overall plan.
Have you started filming the finale yet? Are you still in production?
Yeah, we start that on [March 30th].
Have you gotten the script yet?
Yes, I haaaave.
Is it going to be epic? Can you tell me anything?
[laughs] It’s going to be epic. It is going…to be…epic. I’ll just say it like this: The entire universe will change.
The Tomorrow People airs Monday nights at 9pm, exclusively on The CW.