Now that the secret about the town is out, the sophomore season of the summer hit will explore how to keep the resident’s of Wayward Pines alive, amidst rebellion, rations and the dreaded abbies. Enter Patric and Hounsou, who play Dr. Theo Yedlin and original resident CJ Mitchum, both characters vital to the survival of the community.
Both new stars spoke to Variety about what to expect in Season 2. (Patric and Hounsou spoke to Variety during different interviews.)
You’re both playing new characters. What can you tell us?
Patric: Theo is a surgeon and he’s someone who’s really successful, but in a solitary way. All of a sudden he’s forced into a situation where he has to deal with everybody and ultimately, he’s going to have to become a leader. When put in an extraordinary situation like this, he doesn’t believe what’s happening, but ultimately has to accept it. [He] questions the past, certainly the present and has no idea what the future is — and has to decide. So certainly those aspects of who you want to be as a man, who you have to be and what humanity needs, all those things are coursing through his mind and his veins.
Hounsou: My character, CJ Mitchum, he’s in agriculture. On top of that, he’s defined as the “duster” of Wayward Pines. He’s the one who has the best intellectual memory of Wayward Pines’ structure. In an essence, the “duster” wakes up every 20 years to care for the seeds of humanity. He’s the generator of the town after the generator — without him, the town would be doomed.
Jason, why didn’t you watch Season 1 or read Blake Crouch’s book?
Patric: Theo gets dropped in the middle of this world out of nowhere so I thought it was better for me to do that, too, so I wouldn’t have any associations and I think I could play him as best as I could. There are people who were in it last year, so I heard certain things and have seen little clips so I know that although it has the aspects of the first show and some of the characters, really it’s like a completely different show.
How is season this season different than the first?
Patric: I think the first season was able to get away with a certain obscurity and opaqueness because you’re wondering what’s happening. I think the first season’s star was Wayward Pines and I think people helped complement the sort of mood that was going on and then the secret happens and you understand — and all hell breaks loose. But that cat’s out of the bag so this year really has to be about the people living in this situation and the pressure of that and what’s going to happen. I think it’s very different in that sense. It’s really about the characters, the writing and what happens when paradise is lost.
Hounsou: I can’t speak in general, but for my character, Season 2 is like a rollercoaster on which I get on and at each corner there’s a new twist, but I can never get off that rollercoaster. You don’t want to be trapped somewhere without being able to get out but in this case it’s an exciting feeling for a story that you’re looking forward to seeing. This is what’s crazy about the show — they seem to kill crucial members of the show and then they bring them back.
Djimon, how does your character feel about the “first generation,” which we last saw have hold of the town of Wayward Pines?
Hounsou: CJ feels that humans have doomed themselves. They’ve been disrespectful and mistreating the planet. Consequently there is a new breed that can thrive better than humanity. CJ is somewhat understanding and more importantly, he becomes an “extinctionist,” feeling that humanity has passed its time. It’s the time of the“abbies now.
The setting of Wayward Pines can feel at times a little claustrophobic, even with the trees and the outdoor spaces. What was it like on set?
Patric: I’ve never done television or extended something like that but what was interesting was that the production value and cinematography, it’s indistinguishable from any of the movies that I’ve done. You really feel that you’re in the middle of this weird place. The town and the street is actually built so when you get dropped in there you feel like you’re in another world. The creepy hospital and all the sets, you really get that feeling. So I guess it is a little claustrophobic. But as far as network television goes, this show is pushing the boundaries more than anything you’re going to see on network television.
Hounsou: With the story that I shot, which defines the setting in which we find ourselves in and how we’re coping with that, it certainly felt extremely lonely in that the whole week I was shooting by myself. The whole scenes were me waking up every 20 years to care for the seeds of humanity. And then 2000-and-something years later, we wake up most of the people we have preserved. But shooting that episode, it felt very lonely and depressive. I mean, I don’t want the world to ever have to come to this because it’s really sad to be left alone. You might as well be dead.
What attracted you to the role?
Patric: I had never done an extended arc like this. For 30 years, I’ve been on stage and in films — a two-hour arc of a character, so this was a different challenge. With that amount of time I can pretty much do what I want and find new aspects that I can exercise as an actor but also as a character. Most of my movies have been somewhat dark so to be able to have something extended like that and to have to act moment to moment because you don’t know what’s going to happen has been great. I certainly haven’t had a conventional career — I mean, most people say I have no career. Years have gone by where I haven’t worked. Wherever I was in my life, I picked a role that I’d want to see and be able to express something with. I picked different things at 23 than at 33 than at 40.
Hounsou: I loved the notion of having to tend for humanity. Ultimately, we are all here indirectly to tend for one another. You certainly don’t mean much if you haven’t contributed to the social enhancement of whatever the social condition is. There’s a phrase I keep coming back to and it’s very powerful to me — it goes something like, “You should be ashamed and all of us should be ashamed if we die and haven’t made a contribution to humanity.” That’s a phrase that haunts me on a daily basis. And the show is within that scope. My journey as CJ is to cater to humanity. The gift of humanity is priceless. Automatically I loved that world and the setting of the world was perfect for me. What better to strive for than to save humanity?
“Wayward Pines” Season 2 premieres May 25 on Fox at 9 p.m.