‘The Tomorrow People’s’ Mark Pellegrino on the Art of Playing the Bad Guy
Few actors craft a villain like Mark Pellegrino does: As Jacob, he tormented Jack and the other survivors over four seasons of Lost; as Lucifer, Pellegrino made the Winchesters’ lives a living hell on Supernatural; and on Being Human, his dead Bishop continues to haunt poor Aidan. That’s not even mentioning his devilish roles on Dexter and Revolution.
But these days, viewers can catch Pellegrino hunting down and killing super-powered adolescents as Jedikiah Price on The CW drama The Tomorrow People.
The ruthless head of a secret organization called Ultra, Jedikiah wants nothing more than to annihilate the next step in evolution, these Tomorrow People, before they rise up and wipe out the inferior human race. However, those goals have become increasingly complicated: His nephew Stephen (Robbie Amell) is one of the Tomorrow People, and so is Jedikiah’s lover Morgan (Carly Pope). Plus, Ultra’s enigmatic top dog, known only as the Founder (Simon Merrells), has his own agenda and a method of operating that may not be sitting well with Jedikiah.
Spinoff Online recently spoke with Pellegrino about The Tomorrow People, Jedikiah’s complicated relationships and how there’s far more to the character than meets the eye.
Spinoff Online: Early on, you wanted Jedikiah to be clever and resourceful when engaging the opposition. Do you feel he’s made the best decisions?
Mark Pellegrino: I don’t necessarily think he has. He threw in with the Founder thinking that a certain end was going to be achieved and then in fact it wasn’t. What I like about the show is even the liars base their lies on truth. The Founder does pin Jedikiah for his personal animus towards the Tomorrow People and for his envy for not having what they have. That does underlie some of his motivations and blinds him to some of the more far-reaching effects of the Founder’s personality and his actions. Jedikiah has gotten in too deep and now he’s improvising and struggling to find a way out. We’ll see if he can do it.
Jedikiah is an intelligent man. Does he suspect his nephew Stephen is a double agent? If so, is it a matter of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer?
You never know on the surface where Jedikiah is coming from. He’s definitely got ulterior motives and he knows a lot more than he lets on. The thing that goes on between Jedikiah and Stephen is a chess game governed by the art of war. Jedikiah would probably buy into that premise that the art of war is the art of deception. He doesn’t reveal everything he knows and you’re going to find out, as things progress, exactly what Jedikiah does and doesn’t know.
How does he view the Founder, because the big boss has certainly made accomplishing Jedikiah’s goals a lot harder lately?
Indeed he has. Jedikiah’s views on the Founder evolved over time. I think he now sees the Founder as a very dangerous person who is potentially threatening the world. Jedikiah thinks the Founder has dictatorial aspirations. Unfortunately, Jedikiah threw in with him early on and at some point, you’re going to see how that started. Like anybody else who commits themselves to something before they see the writing on the wall, Jedikiah is finding a way to survive and navigate this crazy world.
Jedikiah could have been this focused villain, bent solely on destroying the Tomorrow People. Things aren’t as black and white as they used to be. Have you enjoyed playing those gray areas?
I have. I really like that. Most bad people, unless they are aware they are bad, act according to a value set that is giving the best to society. They think they are acting for the general good, or at least they justify their actions by promoting the general welfare of their people or all of humanity. That’s such an interesting territory to explore, that somebody can do bad things, but be motivated by what they think is a noble cause.
Did Jedikiah finally cross the line when he ordered Stephen’s best friend Astrid (Madeleine Mantock) assassinated?
It was a really bad thing to do. It was one of those things where Jedikiah really was stuck between a rock and a hard place. He was called out publicly by this agent. He really had no choice in the matter. If there wasn’t already distrust there from Stephen, it’s going to be double now. It just means more obstacles for Jedikiah to overcome to try and connect with him.
Some of the juicier beats revolve around Jedikiah and John (Luke Mitchell). Where do they presently stand?
They have an estranged father/son relationship. Jedikiah is always reaching for John in a personal way and in a larger way. John is an instrument in this vast plan that Jedikiah has, but he also has a very personal relationship with him. It’s probably the closest thing Jedikiah has ever experienced to a son, and probably the most heartbreaking thing Jedikiah has ever experienced as well. I personally think he feels very responsible for this kid and where he’s ended up, the way a father would be if the kid grows up with a totally legitimate beef against the parents. Jedikiah, like with Stephen, is trying to connect, but is in a position where it is increasingly impossible.
Considering Jedikiah’s stance on the Tomorrow People, how did you justify his romance with the super-powered Morgan?
You know, you can’t help who you fall in love with. There’s something very seductive about a person who knows who you are, and accepts you for who and what you are. As Jedikiah says to Morgan, “You touched me and instantaneously knew who I was, and yet you weren’t repulsed. You weren’t freaked out. You actually accepted me. That’s a very beautiful thing. That got the better of me.” That said, Jedikiah is a very conflicted, mixed-up person. He can scientifically justify his animosity towards The Tomorrow People by a long list of superior species that wiped out inferior species and feels that is kind of the human destiny. By the same token, he has such a personal connection to his brother and such a mixed feeling about The Tomorrow People. That makes the relationship understandable, but a terrible mistake in so many ways, because it makes him vulnerable.
You box, do jujutsu and have a black belt in taekwondo. Were you thrilled to prove Jedikiah was more than just a thinker when he took Russell (Aaron Yoo) on in combat?
Yeah, I do want to see more of that action, even though I don’t know that my body in real life can take it. There’s some stuff coming up. The intellectual stuff is good, but if you’re an agent, you’re a man of action and I’d like to see a little bit more of that.
Supernatural alum Ty Olsson guest-starred on the episode “The Citadel.” How was it shooting him in the head?
My wife was really upset by it. And when I looked at the episode, I was upset by it. I had to because he was about to do something to me with his mind, and so it had to be done. Something about that episode I found interesting was it felt like a bit of a throwback to the pilot and the very dark differences between us all. I thought we had been evolving into this interesting no man’s land where good guys are bad guys and bad guys are good guys. It was hard to distinguish who’s who. In that episode, Jedikiah was almost a defensive action against what had come before. He’s been vulnerable and you’d seen him as a guy who has been having troubles compartmentalizing his life the way he has to in order to get by every day. Then all of a sudden you see him back as this vicious, business-like killer. He’s even objectifying people like Charlotte. “Send the kid over here.” I think you are going to see another evolution of Jedikiah.
Lastly, can you tease a little bit about what viewers can expect in the remaining episodes?
It’s building towards a potential explosion and a potential realignment of elements. As to where Jedikiah fits in, who knows if the war is going to end or be ramped up to a different degree. But the universe is definitely going to be a different one.
The Tomorrow People airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.