You might know Mark Pellegrino from, oh... just about every genre TV show ever. He was Jacob on Lost. Lucifer on Supernatural. The only fun character on Revolution. Etc. Now he's playing an evil evolutionary biologist who hunts mutants on The Tomorrow People, and he told us why he's over the moon.
Minor spoilers ahead...
Actually, I'm not sure if you can tell from the pilot of The Tomorrow People that Jedikiah, Pellegrino's character is an evolutionary biology professor — there was a scene in the pilot script where he lectures a classroom full of people about why humans won out over the Neanderthals. But the actual final cut of the pilot includes nothing about Jedikiah being a college professor, in addition to the head of a secret organization that hunts down mutants with superpowers.
We asked Pellegrino about it, and he said they filmed that scene and he was really sorry to lose it. "Yeah, we did film it, and I thought it was a really, really good scene. I really liked it. They cut it for whatever reason, but the same ideas are going to be circulating around in the second episode. So I'm going to be saying kind of similar things."
Adds Pellegrino: "I really liked showing that side of Jedikiah as an academic: a guy with a theory that's supporting all these things that he's doing, which would seem scary and off the hook and totally unbridled, until you see that there's something behind it."
But how does Jedikiah have time to teach a full load of college classes and run a secret mutant-hunting organization? "I think it's tough, but Jedikiah manages to do it. He multitasks," says Pellegrino. Plus Jedikiah has tenure. "So yeah, he doesn't have to worry about losing that job," Pellegrino says with a laugh.
It's us or them
If you happen to be talking to Pellegrino about The Tomorrow People, don't suggest that his character is evil. Because Pellegrino will make a strong argument that his character is really the good guy. "I think he's doing a tremendous good," says Pellegrino. "He's looking out for humanity, and is the self-appointed protector and guardian of humanity."
Because if we don't wipe out the mutants, they will eventually wipe us out. "Evolutionary science kind of bears that out: When species are rivals and competing for space and resources, the superior one wins," says Pellegrino. "Nature has no compunction about that, it just is. I think Jedikiah knows that, and he's trying to head that off at the pass."
And actually, says Pellegrino, that's one of the keys to playing a good villain or antagonist: figuring out why this guy thinks he's morally justified in what he's doing. "I have to find a way to get behind my character," says Pellegrino, and represent the character's point of view as legitimate.
In the pilot — as shown in every promo clip for the show ever — we learn that Jedikiah is the uncle of the main character, Stephen. And Pellegrino says he thinks Jedikiah had a really intense relationship with Stephen's father, which we're going to be learning more about as the show progresses. "I don't know, because I haven't seen the advance storylines yet, but it seems like a Cain-and-Abel-esque relationship," he says. And he thinks we're going to get a bunch of flashbacks about Jedikiah's origins.
Also in the pilot, we see Jedikiah randomly shoot one of his own mutant agents in the head, as punishment for failure. Isn't that kind of reckless, and maybe a bit harsh? "I think he's tough," Pellegrino says of Jedikiah. "I think he understands that he can't have inefficiency and that failure is not an option. I spin it all to the positive," he laughs.