Based on the very popular Noah Wyle Librarian movies, TNT is launching a new series called (what else?) The Librarians. At New York Comic Con (NYCC), I had a chance to talk with showrunner/writer John Rogers (Leverage) and stars Rebecca Romijn (X-Men), Christian Kane (Leverage, Angel), Lindy Booth (Dawn of the Dead) and John Kim (The Pacific, Neighbors) about this fun, adventure romp.
The series is furthering the story which began in 2004’s The Librarian: The Quest for the Spear when Noah Wyle’s bookish Flynn Carsen started work at the Metropolitan Public Library. The Library hides an ancient organization whose mission is to protect the world. Flynn was drawn into a world where his knowledge helped recover ancient artifacts which saved the world from evil.
When the new series begins, magic is coming back in a big way with the Serpent Brotherhood led by the immortal Dulaque (Matt Frewer). Gulp! Flynn needs help so he assembles a team of experts with unique traits. Flynn will be off doing his own thing (killing skitters?) and will check back from time to time. The four-member team includes:
Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn) – protector and former counter terrorism agent
Rebecca explains Eve’s mindset: “I’m in the military and I come from counter terrorism. I’m an investigator and I like to play by the books. I believe in the law and justice.” With that pragmatic background, she’s not one to easily believe in the supernatural and is “the voice of the audience. I’m like ‘What? There’s no Santa! Santa doesn’t exist.’”
“Rebecca is the ass-kicker on the show,” says Christian, the man who usually plays the muscle. To train for her role, Rebecca took up MMA-style training so she’s not kidding around.
Jacob Stone (Christian Kane) – Genius with an encyclopedic knowledge of art history
Jake Stone, played by Christian Kane, is a departure from the man who played Lindsey McDonald in Angel and Eliot Spencer in Leverage. “When Dean Devlin hired me, he said ‘okay, we’re going to cut your hair.’ And I said: ‘Alright. If that’s going to get me the role,’” recounts Christian as he runs his fingers through his newly shorn hair. “I feel like Sampson…I was ready for a change anyway since I had long hair for 10 years.”
But that wasn’t the big change for him! Jake Stone isn’t a trained fighter. “Dean said ‘you have to unlearn everything you know about fighting,’” explains Christian. “I have to fight a little bit awkward. I found a joy of doing it…To not win every fight is great. I love it. It really is a different dance for me.”
But not everything is wildly different for Christian! Jake Stone is an Oklahoma oil worker because there is no way to take the cowboy out of Christian. No word yet on if he’ll be singing.
Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth) – Gifted with synesthesia (using auditory and sensory hallucinations for memory retrieval)
“[Cassandra’s] got this weird thing and she thinks it’s a curse,” explains Lindy whose character has the most unusual gift. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon which is largely unstudied. In Cassandra’s case, she uses the senses, numbers and colors to help unlock memories.
“I had never heard of it before. Synesthesia. This number and color thing… it’s been amazing and it’s fascinating,” enthuses Lindy. “I love playing someone so much stronger than I am. I learned so much about everything. It affords me an opportunity to be weird and do my own thing and not feel any judgment because people don’t know what to expect from her. That means they don’t know what to expect from me and that’s the greatest place for an actor to live in.”
“I did joke a lot with Christian about playing people who are smarter than you. I would go home at the end of every day and not only have to learn my lines, but I’d have to look up ‘What is 4th dimensional geometry?’ Is that a real thing? And then things come up and I’d go ‘Oh God! I don’t understand this!’” she laughs.
Ezekiel Jones (John Kim) – Thief and technology expert
Young Aussie John Kim describes his character, Ezekiel Jones, as “a trouble maker. He’s the rascally little scamp; a little brother to the group. Up until The Librarians, he was a lone wolf. His curiosity was too good for his own good. Ezekiel is kind of the anti-hero. He’s the badass side of things. Sometimes you need that. It’s a bit of fun.”
From straight-laced Eve’s point of view, Rebecca’s states that Ezekiel is “everything I despise in people.”
Don’t be fooled! These actors have clearly bonded together and have great respect for each other.
Rebecca and Christian previously played brother and sister in another show, King and Maxwell. Rebecca says that bond is still there: “Even in this show, we still have this very brother/sister dynamic, the best and the worst ways. We would bicker and laugh. He’s great. We had a blast.”
She also spills the beans that “the one who got hazed was John Kim…He made most fun of himself.” For example, John’s need for a new stage name (due to equity rules) generated a lot of discussion on set. However, John wasn’t particularly anxious about it. Rebecca recounts the story:
“He’s like [in thick Aussie accent]: ‘I don’t know. I haven’t thought of it.’ As an actor, from a very young age, I would’ve spent my entire life thinking what that name ought to be, and he hadn’t even thought about it! He’s like “I have to give them paperwork in 2 days and I haven’t thought of what my name’s going to be.” So we had so much fun trying to name him because he kept saying he wanted something really Australian. We were like…uh, Crocodile Jackman? Koala Newton-John? We had so many of them…And then he finally goes ‘I’m thinking of going with a one-name name.’ Like Cher?”
John laughs at this story and says “Koala Newton-John was pretty close and Kangaroo Jack. I’m still deciding.”
“I wouldn’t say we pranked anybody, but we took the piss out of John Kim,” Rebecca concludes. “A lot.”
Lindy bubbles with: “We had so much fun. We all genuinely like each other. We all totally get along and we are all very much like our characters in that we’re all totally different and none of us have anything in common with each other on the surface. We still like each other. It’s awesome. We have a great time. The best.”
The laughter and fun is actually an important part of The Librarians. While the premise of taking on supernatural forces to save the earth sounds quite serious, the show itself is not
Christian, who knows a thing or two about fighting supernatural forces of evil from Angel believes The Librarians is different since “They’re very similar worlds, but it’s not quite as dark as Angel. Then something extraordinary happened. I saw Noah Wyle put his shoes back on. And so much comedy came out of that.”
“Noah Wyle describes Flynn Carsen as Indiana Jones, if Indiana Jones is played by Don Knotts,” sums up Rebecca. “I had not seen [The Librarian movies] beforehand. I was really surprised at the tone of them. I didn’t realize how fun they would be.”
Noah Wyle is busy starring in Falling Skies, but still makes frequent appearances in The Librarians. Showrunner John Rogers mentions that Noah “killed himself to be on this show. He flew back at midnight to make early morning calls. He loves the show.”
Is there any chance that Noah may join the series full-time next season after Falling Skies ends its run? “I’m super-contractually not allowed to talk about that. A TNT lawyer will show up and punch me,” answers John Rogers. “[Noah] would love to do as many as he can. And he, I will assume, if the show comes back, that we will have as much Noah as we can possibly have.”
In the meantime, this 10 episode season will feature a lot of fun stories. Rebecca and Lindy are excited for audiences to see the fairy tales episode. John Rogers describes the original idea for that episode as “a very serious thing about a magical book and the immortals who could never escape from it. And it turned into being trapped in a town that was becoming fairy tales and they start to fall into the troupes and they start to fall into the characters.”
My guess is that episode won’t end the way you think it will since John Rogers promises a twist in every episode: “A genre audience has watched a lot of these shows. You are not going to fool them in the first 5 minutes; they’re probably ahead of you. So we focused on giving you the version of the show you think you’re getting and in the middle we’ll flip it. Hopefully we’ve gotten you, because you’re so used to this version of the show.”
Speaking of twists, The Librarians is set for the most unique Christmas episode which is the one John Rogers is most excited about:
“I love the Christmas episode because Bruce [Campbell] is just fantastic and because it came together in such a crazy way. We had all the myths up on the wall and we were trying to figure out the next thing the Serpent Brotherhood did as part of the arc. Well, are they finding artifacts and destroying them? And then I said ‘I’m not emotionally invested in the artifacts like a person.’ ‘Well, like Santa?’ I said ‘Are we doing the episode where they are going to kill Santa?’ We wrote that in four days. What’s the story you don’t expect? Well, Santa’s magical in a small way. So we’ll make it a road movie. Well, what’s the best road movie you’ve ever seen? Well Midnight Run. So it’s Santa’s Midnight Run. It’s Eve Baird and evil Bruce Campbell stuck in a car trying to get away from the Serpent Brotherhood while they deal with all the other magical stuff that’s going on.”
As wacky as that might sound, John and the writers have clear rules on how magic is going to interact with the world: “If magic is coming into our world, people are going to use it. If magic has been around for 2000 years, a lot of times, that version of the story is ‘here is the hidden cult.’ Why are they in robes? Why are they underground? If you were a giant, world-spanning powerful cult would you live in a shit hole? You’d be lords of the domain. So the fun of it was, let’s take famous supernatural stories and see how they would update and adapt if they had to evolve along with society”
According to John, there are plenty of ideas stewing in the writer’s room for season 2 (“I am a little heartbroken that we never got to the selfie of Dorian Gray”) so let’s see what unfolds in season 1!
In addition to Bruce Campbell, the first season includes guest appearances by Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain who are reprising their roles from the movies.
Sounds like fun, right? I missed The Librarian movies, but I definitely want to tune into The Librarians series which starts up December 7th on TNT. Here’s the first teaser!
Comment below or email me at Erica@MikeTheFanboy.com
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