Mark Pellegrino has played a lot of unconventional villains on television shows. From Rita's abusive, addict ex-husband on Dexter, to Lucifer incarnated on Supernatural, to Monroe's once-right hand man on Revolution, Pellegrino has perfectly portrayed men who will stop at nothing to follow out a plan they feel is necessary-- even if they are misguided. Once again, his role on The CW's The Tomorrow People fits nicely into that pocket of complex individuals driven by a very specific mission and sense of morality. And once again, Pellegrino isn't looking at the role as a villainous type but instead hoping to layer enough motivation and meaning into him that the audience will understand his stance and perhaps even root for him.
"I think his ambitions are of a scope of a Lucifer except the opposite: instead of trying to destroy humanity in an apocalyptic way, he's trying to protect humanity," Pellegrino said of Jedikiah, the "doctor...politician, leader, and man of power" he plays on The Tomorrow People.
"I think he's trying to do it because he has first hand experience with the Tomorrow People that is negative, and he's got this wealth of knowledge of evolutionary biology, so that he knows how an inferior species fares against a superior species when they're in competition with one another. And he knows that nature is cruel and uncompromising and that the human race has a very real potential to be wiped out. So good warrior that he is, he's decided to preempt it and get the jump on them while they still have the little glitch in their genome that does not allow them to kill people."
Pellegrino pointed out that Jedikiah, who heads a super secret company called Ultra whose main goal is to find the Tomorrow People and bring them in for sinister-seeming experiments and tests, is not out to hunt down scared kids. Instead, Jedikiah always first offers them the chance to come into the company voluntarily-- just as he does with his nephew Stephen (Robbie Amell), who is the latest "break-out" of this homo superior species that calls themselves the Tomorrow People. It's only when they resist-- or when they turn their back on the work being done at Ultra, as we'll learn at least a few key characters have-- that things get a little more physical.
"Just by the name itself you are claiming a status over humanity, and that says something. That's a confession of sorts to me, and that is the breeding ground of evil-- that's the breeding ground, I think, of our demise," Pellegrino said of Jedikiah's view of the Tomorrow People.
"I think the birth of reason made human beings...a sophisticated hunter and killer and jealous of our territory and having super human powers in the hands of the wrong people [is dangerous]."
Jedikiah may be coming of a place of justice and morality-- at least as how he sees it, per Pellegrino-- but his methods may seem anything but at times. Pellegrino said that this is a simple act of Jedikiah considering "all of the angles" and understanding that "you have to look past the individual in order to serve the larger purpose. And you have to be ruthless enough to say 'Will I win if I do this? I will? Then I must.'"
"I think people are interested in personalities that are this driven. I am! Driven to the point where they're a bit fanatical about their belief. You want to get underneath that and see what's animating that," Pellegrino said.
"The more complicated they make it the better. I do think [Jedikiah]'s got some very personal issues with his brother that need to be flushed out and worked out, and there needs to be some kind of closure there... They probably could make him confront his prejudices and the real internal goings on... And I like characters that are dark like Jedikiah but also have that other dimension. There's something in there that's soft. There's an Achilles heel and a soul in there to Jedikiah."
Clearly it's not a personality without flaws or pitfalls, and family may be one of them. Though Jedikiah makes it clear to Stephen and the audience by extension just how far his reach goes and how much he knows about the people he can use to get to Stephen, he understands that "the art of war is deception" and "even though Stephen's young, it would be unwise...to think that age is wisdom and youth is ignorance because he's a shrewd kid." In many ways, Jedikiah is keeping the Tomorrow People close because of how unpredictable they are. It's not a case of adapting or dying; it's a case of keeping enemies closest.
"They are that one random mutation away from being utterly dangerous, and that is the thing: how are they going to be harnessed?" Pellegrino said.
The Tomorrow People can't kill now, but if the genes that make them homo superiors are just one mutuation in evolution from homo sapiens, no one should underestimate a brilliant mind getting in there and figuring out how to tweak the DNA again, perhaps to weaponize their special abilities. Jedikiah seems ripe for that kind of genius, but if he's truly interested in saving the human race, he won't be so quick to create something that makes the human race even more obsolete.
"It's a complicated world that Jedikiah stomps around in and does a crazy balancing act...having convinced some of them to come over to [his] side and in essence become soldiers for [him] killing their own kind," Pellegrino said.
"When you have a bigger agenda-- when you're thinking in terms of 'I'm trying to save the human race, does an individual matter? And will I do whatever I have to do to achieve my end? Yeah'-- that's where I think Jedikiah's hardness comes in. It's like in Apocalypse Now...when General Kurtz was talking about his revelation when he was in the jungle and they had gone through a village and inoculated all of the kids, and then they came back the next day and all of the arms of the children that had been inoculated were chopped off, and he had a revelation, an epiphany, of the kind of man it took to wage the war that the Viet Cong were waging. And it had to do with a kind of sacrifice of self in a way. Men who were able to commit that atrocity were moral but driven by a righteousness to do savage things because it was necessary to win. That's a very peculiar personality. It's Machiavellian."
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