6:00pm PT by Amber Dowling
'Blindspot's' Luke Mitchell Discusses His "Ruthless" Character and Why He Almost Turned Down the Role
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's episode of Blindspot, "Hero Fears Imminent Rot."]
Fans waiting for answers after the inaugural season of Blindspot were quickly rewarded when Jane (Jaimie Alexander) made the realization in the season two premiere that Roman (Luke Mitchell) and Shepherd (Michelle Hurd) were her respective brother and mother. Thanks to an arc setting up the new terrorist organization Sandstorm and the twist in which it was revealed there’s a mole in the FBI, it was immediately obvious that the two new characters would play a major role going forward.
It was also obvious that these weren’t the good guys, and that their previous relationship with Jane meant nothing if it meant her loyalties had turned.
In Wednesday's episode, Jane’s loyalty was indeed put to the test when Shepherd ordered her to shoot an innocent man who was in love with her. Unable to pull the trigger, Roman stepped in to do it instead, effectively covering for his sister… for now. But even that move didn’t come without a threat by episode’s end, calling into question just how deep the bond between these two characters actually goes.
THR caught up with Mitchell on the heels of Roman’s deadly “rabbit” monologue to find out just how ruthless this character is and how far his loyalties go. Here, he chats about almost turning down the role, crafting the character’s look and what comes next.
How did you come to this role?
I had basically just finished S.H.I.E.L.D. and I was asked to audition. I turned it down at first because I didn't want to waste time on my holiday. I had read the character and didn’t think I was right for this role, which is pretty funny now. Once I came back to L.A. from my holiday, they reached out again. I still wasn't sure it was for me, but I compromised and said I would put myself on tape. So I did that and a couple of days later they called saying [creator] Martin Gero wanted to Skype with me and do a callback with some tweaks. Long story short, I got the role, and I burst out laughing. I still had my holiday beard, as I call it. Every time I go on holidays, I just grow my facial hair out as a relaxation thing. When I have a job, I have to shave or trim down the beard to the same length, which is annoying. So I didn't think I was right for the role and I went in with the way I looked and that spirit. Gero just so happened to love the look I had which was ironic and brilliant. Before I knew it, I was flying to New York to meet the cast. It all happened very fast.
When did you realize you were right for the role?
The initial character description was just very simply worded. I realized halfway through the audition process why I was in the running for it. I think a lot of people were playing this guy as a bad guy but I didn't think he was a bad guy. He’s a good guy, he has to believe in the things he’s fighting for and he is looking out for his sister. All of a sudden it changed in my head, and I thought, 'Okay, I can play this guy.'
Do you still think he’s a good guy after he shot an innocent man in the head?
Look, there are things that this guy does that are pretty extreme, but there are reasons for why he does what he does. So long as there are reasons, I can wrap my head around it.
Characters keep referencing how “ruthless” Roman is – how ruthless does he get?
He is ruthless. Absolutely. Look at the situation where he was killing those cops. Or his own people in his organization were trying to stop him from doing something and he almost killed them with his bare hands. He is ruthless and he's brutal. He will do anything for his sister, absolutely anything. He went through an incredibly traumatic childhood and she is his saving grace. His sister is the human representation of the love he's lost. He lost his parents at a young age, he grew up in this orphanage and he had awful treatment. He was the weaker of the two siblings and Jane was his protector.
How would you describe his relationship with Shepherd?
Shepherd came in and rescued them and brought them into the fold and the organization. Technically, she is their mother, and she did raise them and nurture them, but she is not the most mothering person. They don't call her “Mom,” they call her “Shepherd” which is interesting. It kind of explains that inherent nature of their relationship. So he is a guy that has a lot of pain. He has a lot of scar tissue, not just on the outside but on the inside. Born out of that is a need to prove himself and show that he is ready. It makes him do some pretty extreme things for what he believes to be in the best interest of their cause.
Can you explain the line Shepherd gives Roman about how he can’t do what his sister does?
In my head it is to say, “You're not as good as your sister and you never will be.” Shepherd had two choices to send to the FBI and she chose Jane. So that is just a reminder that he's not enough and she makes him feel like he never will be, which is the constant struggle where he's trying to prove himself as well as his need to be loved.
How far will he go in order to cover up for Jane?
Roman is scared of what Shepherd might do if she were to find out that Jane can't find a way to be herself again. Showing signs of weakness means she isn't the person they knew, which means they can't trust her. Roman knows what kind of person Shepherd is and therefore he is doing everything he can sheep to protect his sister. At the end of the episode, the story about the rabbit is him threatening her, but essentially, it is a form of tough love. He is trying to tell her to figure it out; whatever she's playing at she needs to find her way back to being herself or shit is going to hit the fan. Like this is really, really, really serious. Also a part of that is him stepping up and saying, “Hey, while you've been gone I've been working my ass off to be better, to get better and survive.” As hard as that is to do to the one person in the world he loves, he has to do that to protect her.
Could the rabbit story be a metaphor for anyone in Jane’s life?
In terms of the threat he makes towards Jane, it could represent anyone. Certainly people or a person close to her, for sure. But in Roman’s head it represents weakness. That is what it represents for him personally; he was too weak and he was not able to kill the rabbit. His sister was strong. She was able to do it and he reminds her of that story saying that he is not a strong one but now he is not afraid to do whatever it takes.
How far ahead do you know what's coming up for your character?
Before we started shooting, Martin and I had a great chat where he pretty much gave me my season arc. It was amazing because I have never had that before on any project. It was great to be handed so much information on a platter. Where he takes this story and these characters really brings this relationship to life. In terms of scripts that I've read I have read up to episode nine, which is the midseason finale. Obviously things can change, but things are moving incredibly quick from the season premiere. It is mental. The midseason finale could be our finale… like that much shit goes down. It's crazy.
Blindspot airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.
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