Exclusive Interview: Luke Mitchell on ‘The Tomorrow People’ & Seven Minutes
Earlier this week, The CW debuted its new action drama about a group of telekinetically powered young adults, "The Tomorrow People."
At The CW’s Television Critics Association party, I met Luke Mitchell, and we discussed the future of the series. If you have not seen the pilot yet, some spoilers follow. Mitchell plays John Young, a veteran Tomorrow Person who recruits Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell) to join himself and Cara (Peyton List). In a surprise turn, Stephen decides to go work for Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino), whom John has said is the enemy.
Meet Luke Mitchell as we did in this interview, and leave us a comment below if you’re excited about “The Tomorrow People.”
CraveOnline: How competitive was the casting for this part?
Luke Mitchell: I don’t know, to be honest. I just turned up and did my thing and I got lucky I guess. I think I must’ve just been the right person for the job.
Were you going out for lots of pilots this year?
Yeah, it was my first pilot season and I was working pretty hard, getting coaches for each audition and that sort of thing. At the end of a hard two weeks, I had a callback for “Tomorrow People.” The rest is kind of history. I found out that I did well and I went on to the network test, then found out the next night that I got it. It was all pretty crazy.
Were you looking for something in the action/science fiction realm?
To be honest, I was just looking for a foot in the door into this industry because obviously I’m Australian. I’ve never worked on an American show before, so I was just hoping to score something to make sure that I was familiar to American audiences. I was thrilled to get this because this is one of the best scripts I’ve read all pilot season.
It’s a great part too.
It’s a fantastic part and it’s a part that is very different from characters that I’ve played before and it’s very different from myself, so it’s a lot of fun. I get to play a guy with superpowers and a leader and a man, but a flawed man. Someone who’s not perfect and makes mistakes. It’s a lot of fun.
How different is he from the original series?
The show itself is technically based on the ‘70s British show. Same title, same powers and there are other similarities, but we’ve taken the concept and we’ve modernized it. We’ve added to it. We’re not trying to replicate the old show. We’re taking what they did, which I believe was an extremely popular and great show, and had a huge fan base. We’re trying to take that concept and add something to it. Obviously this is an American version but we’re not trying to replicate something that was.
Not only moving to America, just having a modern day version, having teenagers and young adults of today deal with these superpowers must change everything.
Yeah, and it’s a great story because essentially Tomorrow People are outcasts. At one point in time or another, everyone’s an outcast and you have to deal with those sort of issues in society. Especially for teenage kids, I don’t think there’s anyone that’s really been through childhood and not been an outcast in one way or another. So I think it’ll really draw viewers in because it’s a really character driven story.
Has your character has already been a Tomorrow Person for a long time when we meet him in the pilot?
Yes, yes. My character’s history is delved into deeper in coming episodes, so you get to know the person that John Young is. In the pilot, you kind of see this guy and you go okay, he’s interesting. Then in episodes to come, you’ll get to know where he came from and why he is the way he is.
What does he think of Stephen Jameson’s decision at the end of the pilot?
It’s the end of the line, he thinks. He tried his best to bring him on board and to persuade him that this is the best thing for him, but he’s chosen to go to the dark side so to speak. He doesn’t know what that’s like whereas John, my character, it’s alluded to in the pilot that my character worked for Jedikiah and worked for Ultra and knows exactly what it’s like.
Somehow my character was able to escape which is explored down the track, but I know things that Stephen doesn’t. So he basically thinks that it’s the end of the line. Stephen’s made the wrong choice.
That’s the beginning of the show, so we know it doesn’t end there.
Well, I know it doesn’t end there, but what comes out of that is quite interesting. Episode two is kind of a continuation of the pilot so to speak. You see Stephen working for Ultra and see his transition from thinking that it’s the right thing to do to seeing what they’re really like and seeing what sort of man Jedekiah actually is. And then seeing him trying to come back to the Tomorrow People and the Tomorrow People’s reaction to him coming back is not as welcoming as originally.
Will they have to form an uneasy alliance at some point?
Well, I think so. The uneasy alliance comes out of the fact that John and Cara have different opinions of Stephen. So Cara and Stephen have a telepathic link, so she’s sympathetic towards him whereas John’s a bit more cut and dry about it. But, John and Cara are romantically involved so John has to listen to Cara. He’s persuaded by her in some sense.
Is there going to be a love triangle at some point? Will it be Team John and Team Stephen?
I think it will be at some point. I think that’s definitely the way it’s headed and it’s an interesting thing. John’s the older guy and Stephen’s the young boy, but it’s a relationship that already exists versus a deep connection that two people have. So I think audiences will be torn as to who they want to be together.
Have you gotten a feel for being part of the CW family yet?
Absolutely. The CW and Warner Brothers have been so welcoming. It’s been such a fantastic vibe. Everything to do with the show has good vibes about it. The cast, the crew, the writing, the directing, the producing, everyone’s excited and enthusiastic, and of course the network is extremely excited about our show and that breeds enthusiasm amongst the cast. So we rock up to work every day excited to do our thing and excited to bring these awesome scripts to life and we just hope that enthusiasm overflows and the audience picks up on that enthusiasm.
You see the way they’re able to recruit this young talent, how does The CW do it?
I don’t know, to be honest. I was very pleasantly surprised once the cast was assembled, because not only did we get along well but I think everyone’s been perfectly cast. I’m sure they do have a very talented casting department, no doubt but I think sometimes it is a little bit of luck as well when the right ensemble comes together. Fingers crossed, I think we do have the right ensemble.
Do you have any cool action scenes coming up?
In pretty much every episode, my character has some cool action scenes that I have to do stunt training for and fight rehearsals. That’s so much fun because I’m always learning new skills and I’m coming home really bruised and sore, because obviously we’re giving it our all but when we’re not professional stunt people, you make mistakes. The challenge to make the stunt work as realistic as possible is paramount and we all thrive on that.
What’s something that when we see it, we’re going to know you hurt yourself?
I don’t know. There’s a sparring sequence between John and Cara in episode two that’s quite rigorous and a little bit sexy. You’ll watch and be like, “If they did that 20 times,” which we probably did in total, about 20 times, you’ll realize that yes, they would have been a little bit sore afterwards. It’s just very physical.
So your crew keeps training to be ready for battle?
Yeah, we keep sharpening our tools. We’ve got to keep protecting ourselves and surviving because we’ve got a government agency hunting us down and trying to kill us essentially.
Did you just shoot a movie also?
Yeah, Seven Minutes.
What is Seven Minutes about?
Essentially it’s a heist film. It’s really well written by Jay Martin who also directed it. Basically, it revolves around my character who was a promising high school quarterback and then through injury was forced to quit. Then it kind of cuts forward to modern day and things haven’t turned out so well.
So my character’s got an injury and his cheerleader love from high school is pregnant, his older brother’s a drug dealer, his best friend’s getting out of jail. It’s all in a small town and he just doesn’t have very good role models around him. Through a bad series of events, he gets coaxed into dealing drugs which turns bad real quick. He’s forced to make some really tough decisions.
It’s written and shot in the style of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels where it starts off with the main sequence, and after each pivotal bit of information is introduced, it cuts back to explain how we got there. Then the next bit of the main sequence is introduced and then it cuts back. So the audience always thinks they know what’s going on but they never do until the end.
I think it was a really cool movie to work on. I worked with some incredibly talented actors and I felt like I had to step up my game, working with guys like Jason Ritter and Zane Holtz and Kris Kristofferson. We’ve still got a little bit to shoot on that but I’m looking forward to seeing the final result.
You said John is not like you at all. Is your character in Seven Minutes any closer to the real Luke?
Look, I think every character I play definitely has parts of me. I can’t ever play someone that’s completely different to me. I always inject me into every role but I think maybe there’s more of me in my character Sam in the film. I used to be a big sportsman so I can relate to the trying to be a professional sportsman side of things, the dedication, the training and then knowing what it’s like when that is taken away from you. I understand that aspect of it, so I think in that way, there’s more of me in the film.