FOCUS ON... JOHN HARLAN KIM
Our latest ‘FOCUS ON’ feature interview is with Australian actor John Harlan Kim. Kim has journeyed from the familiar sights of Ramsay Street on Neighbours, to become a valued Librarian on the hit TNT show, The Librarians.
Hi John, how’s your visit home been?
Unreal! Always good to get home for the Summer and see all my mates and the family. Mom was stoked to have me back but now I’m pretty sure she’s getting over it and probably ready for me to head back to the States!
We’ve just seen the season 3 finale of The Librarians. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. Your character Ezekiel has grown over the years, matured, what’s the journey been like over that time?
It’s weird. Here’s a character I never thought would grow. It was apparent that he suffered from some type of Peter Pan syndrome. But over the seasons we’ve seen more and more that it’s just a guard he has set up and I think people can relate to Ezekiel in that way, that having walls up is a normal human thing to do. He has the most to prove yet he acts like he doesn’t care but we’re seeing more and more that he truly does care, especially about his new family.
Can you relate to Ezekiel in any way?
I’ve grown up with the show myself so that’s probably one of the coolest parts, to not only see Ezekiel grow up and mature with each script but also needing to have to do that myself albeit on a less grander scale because obviously I’m not fighting dragons and minotaurs in my personal life. My problems are a little more realistic like trying to score a date or not over-cooking my eggs.
Has there been an episode that stood out as a favourite?
Point of Salvation. Hands down. The cast were so supportive that ep as was Jonathan Frakes and Jeremy Bernstein. They put me in an environment where I felt confident enough to make choices and take creative risks. I think it all came together really well in the end and I couldn’t be prouder.
Tell us about your relationship with the other Librarians.
Lindy [Booth] and Christian [Kane] set great examples for me, they’re always there for me (Lindy & Rebecca have even housed me at one stage) and they’re just good people to be around. And with Noah [Wyle], I couldn’t be more amped to work with. He’s phenomenal at what he does and I have a lot of respect for the way he handles the pressure whether as an actor, producer, director or writer. He’s awesome. I really couldn’t be in a better position with the cast I have.
And the dynamic between the Librarians and their Guardian, as well as Jenkins? It’s a great technique, incorporating different roles to cover a variety of plot lines.
Rebecca Romijn and John Larroquette make it way too easy to play! They’ve both had long and successful careers in the industry and it was easy to see why from the moment I got to Portland. I love working with them. It’s fun because you’re right, when we have such a wide variety of plot lines to cover splitting up the team becomes necessary to keep on top of it all. Every script I get, it’s exciting! One day I’ll be sitting on a magic council with Larroquette, the next I’ll be beating up zombies along with Romijn!
The episodes are always so unique and interesting, when you first read each script how do you feel? I’d imagine much like the audience, fascinated, but excited as your character experiences it.
One of my favorite parts about the whole thing is getting the next episode’s script. The writers on our show are top flight and they do a spectacular job in conveying their vision onto paper and keeping things fresh and interesting! Like I mentioned, you don’t know what you’ll be doing or where your character will get to travel to, all you know for sure is it won’t be boring!
There are some harder themes, for example in season 3 the team deals with the resolution of Cassandra’s tumour. In contrast, what was it like filming those scenes? As a viewer it was tense!
To an extent, it definitely felt like a shock to the system! Showing up that day was such a different type of shooting day for us. I wasn’t used to coming in and filming something so somber but being the incredible talent she is, Lindy absolutely killed it!
Were there any other scenes that presented a challenge in terms of emotional response? Like the finale?
Yeah I mean Flynn’s ultimate sacrifice was rough. And I had already read what was going to happen and I still got anxious watching it! That and Charlene’s goodbye. Jane Curtin’s a star, I loved having her around.
And what about training for the more physical combat roles, what was that like? Did you enjoy it?
Definitely. I got to live out a bit of a youth dream with that vampire ep. And to do it alongside Christian Kane who is well-versed in vampire combat himself. I mean, come on! How lucky am I!? Our stunt guys Tim Eulich and Buster Reeves were a dream to work with and they’re absolute legends as well.
Over the seasons, what’s one of your favourite moments working on the ‘The Librarians’ set?
My first day. Noah Wyle and the jewel theft scene. It still feels like a dream, such a surreal moment. I haven’t lost that feeling yet and I hope I never do. I never want to be jaded.
Do you have an idea as to what The Librarians will go through in the upcoming series? What would you like to see happen next, for all the librarians and specifically Ezekiel?
Zero idea. They’re good at keeping pretty secretive about all of that stuff. I’d love to see Ezekiel continue to evolve into the Librarian he’s going to be someday. He’s far from being fully-realized and has the most growing up to do so to see him take that next step would be awesome.
The Librarians has been renewed for a fourth season, what do you think makes the series so successful?
Our showrunners. John Rogers and now Dean Devlin. They’re the pulse of the show. I don’t really need to say anymore, they’re extraordinary at what they do and they’re two of the best men I’ll ever come across, by every measurement of the word.
Is there any other role you’d like to take on from a book or comic? Or another series you’d also like to be a part of?
Amadeus Cho. I’ve always wanted to be a humungous, green giant.
Did you always want to be an actor?
I decided at 15 I wanted to be an actor so I took a class, auditioned for my first gig and booked it. I then took that pay check from my first acting gig, coupled that with money saved from working at a charcoal chicken store and flew to New York in my school holidays. I knocked on the door to a film school building in Manhattan and told the concierge I wanted to be an actor and he told me to go find my parents. I think he thought I was lost.
On your down time what other things do you enjoy doing?
I love shooting hoops, hitting the water and playing video games. I picked up boxing a few months ago too but my heads so big, it makes it ridiculously hard to dodge punches.
How does working overseas compare to working here at home in Australia?
The biggest difference I’ve found is the pacing. I can’t speak for either industry as a whole but my experience on Neighbours was a much more fast-paced environment than something like The Librarians. It was actually a fantastic way to learn to nail your first few takes and within that, I found preparation was key so I make sure to show up to any set now with my lines absolutely ingrained into my brain so that the real fun can begin once you start shooting.
What advice do you have for actors, especially Australians wanting to make it in the industry and overseas?
Trust your choices. It’s so easy to second guess if you’re on the right path or not but just back yourself and everything else will fall into place.
And finally, what can we expect from you next?
I’m actually in the middle of editing my first project right now so I’m hoping to complete that before we start work on Season 4! Way too excited to see that finished and then to get to go back to work with Dean & the gang is going to be an absolute blast as always!
Thank you so much for your time John. We can’t wait to see you on screen in 2017!