Exclusive Interview with Beyond’s Jonathan Whitesell

Photo Credit: Brandon Hart Photography
Photo Credit: Brandon Hart Photography

Canadian actor Jonathan Whitesell participated in theater during middle school and high school. When he moved to Vancouver, he enrolled in The Acting for Stage and Screen Program at Capilano University. After graduating, he booked his first role in The Unspoken and he hasn’t stopped working since. He’s best known for his work on Once Upon a Time, The X-Files, iZombie, Ties That Bind, Proof and The 100. We got the chance to talk with Jonathan about his new show Beyond, set to air January 2, 2017, on Freeform.

Tell us about your audition process for Beyond/Luke?

Oddly enough I originally auditioned for the role of Holden. It was a bit of a whirlwind experience that started with a taping, three auditions and a test over the span of a couple of months. It was a couple of weeks after my test I found out I didn’t get the part… It was tough to digest the news, but I was thrilled about the whole experience nonetheless. It wasn’t until about three weeks later that I got the call saying that they were going to offer me the role of Luke instead! The whole process took about three months, and I was very emotionally invested, so when I got the news it was mind blowing.

Luke immediately embraces his brother which is important. A lot of times we see jealousy in these situations where the parents are giving more attention to one sibling, do you think that will happen here?

Setting the show aside, as a parent, to have a child in a coma for twelve years would be an enormous emotional strain. I don’t think there would be a moment where that child isn’t on your mind. That being said, you’ll just have to watch what unfolds! I will say that Holden’s coma is definitely a catalyst for many adverse effects within the family, but Luke’s bond with his brother as a kid was very strong. Holden was a guiding light for him. Although Luke may not remember everything during that time, Holden is still his older brother, and he wants to try and pick up where they left off.  

Clearly Luke is very accomplished because we saw his graduation picture and we hear how he’s doing at college, do you believe that we’ll get to see his brother walking down the same path?

(laughs) Looks can be deceiving! I think you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. As for Holden, he has a lot on his plate. Twelve years has changed the world in many ways, and he’s going to be jumping over many hurdles as he is reintroduced to his new life.

Luke and his brother were working on projects together, and we see Holden finishing up that solar system mobile. What kind of projects could you see yourself working on? Would they be scientific as well? 

I’ve never been a very crafty person, but I’ve always wanted to try cosplaying. I’ve just never had the time!  

If you were to one day find yourself in the same position that we find Holden in, how would you react? What would you do? 

(laughs) I would find out if Oprah is still alive and make sure robots haven’t taken over the earth. Probably followed by terror and disillusion.

We immediately get a taste of what powers Luke’s brother has in the pilot. What kind of super power would you want to have?

I would love to be able to fly. It would save me some serious money on airfare. (laughs)

Can you tell us if you think the family dynamic will change at all now that Luke’s brother is back in the picture?

Absolutely. They have many adjustments to make to accommodate Holden’s return. Physically, mentally and emotionally the Matthews family will be entering an entirely new phase in their lives.

Did you have a favorite moment when filming on the Beyond set?

Tough to say without giving anything away! SO many good moments on set. The pilot in general with Lee Krieger directing was amazing. I can safely say we have a very dynamic ensemble of actors and a great crew, so every day was something special. Especially later in the season there are some badass moments that had me awestruck.

We know that you’ve previously worked on a few other Sci-Fi shows with The 100 and X-Files, is there anything that pulls you to do more shows in that genre?

I’ve always loved sci-fi, it’s what I grew up with. So being able to play these characters is a dream come true. In terms of my gravitation towards the genre, I’d say it varies. If it’s something I can put my heart into, then I’m all for it, no matter what the genre or style.

How does it feel playing an LGBT character and repping that community? 

It’s an honor. Fans of The 100 are very passionate, and it’s been a great experience being a part of that.

What was it like jumping into Season 3 of The 100 with a cast that already is tight knit? 

Chelsey Reist and I actually went to the same University, so I had one familiar face on set when I first arrived. To be transparent, I honestly felt intrusive at first. It’s an odd process as a guest to come into a show that’s so established. I’m sure many actors can relate. However, the cast on the show was extremely welcoming, and I learned a lot being around that atmosphere. I’ve made some really great friends on the show.

Do you think Miller and everyone else has forgiven or will forgive Bryan for his involvement with Pike? 

For Bryan, Pike was a leader. A man who kept him alive when the Ice Nation struck and allowed them to find a safe haven in Arkadia. I don’t think it’s about forgiveness at this point, it’s about survival. When Bryan was given an ultimatum, he chose Miller over Pike, which was a catalyst to save lives and allow them to escape. The conflict in views hasn’t gone away… The groups trust in Bryan lies with Miller, and now that Pike is gone he has a lot to digest.

What do you hope is in store for Bryan, and for Bryan and Miller as a couple?

I hope they can find happiness. There is so much horror and trepidation in the bleak world they live in, but they have each other. That’s all that matters at this point. They have both made a lot of sacrifices to be where they are, and they will strive to make it work.

Finally, what books, movies, television shows, etc. bring out the nerd in you?

Oh jeez… I could sit here all day and list things. (laughs) I’d say Dungeons and Dragons is probably up there on the list. My character in my last campaign was a Catfolk Monk named Tiger Jonathan. Dumb as a doorknob, but he was an absolute powerhouse. Great game. I’d also say Game of Thrones, Overwatch… I have WAY too many hours logged, Halo was my life growing up, Star Wars and computer hardware. I built my own PC. She’s real purdy.



Featured Image Photo Credit: Rusty Young

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