Phil Klemmer Exclusive; ‘The Tomorrow People’ Dissected

Phil KlemmerTommaso Boddi/WireImage

Ever wondered what it’s like inside the mind of The Tomorrow People? Wonder no more. Executive Producer Phil Klemmer sat down with us to talk about the show, and seriously, this was one of our best interviews to date. His honesty was shocking, and quite hilarious. Sex, evolution, and excitement over the demise of humanity, all wrapped up as a nice little present for you. Enjoy!

Please tell us about your involvement in the show – explain exactly what you do and why this show spoke to you.

Me?  I am the creator and the showrunner.  This means that I wrote the pilot script along with Greg Berlanti and Julie Plec, and that I’m essentially the head writer on the show in series and an executive producer — a fancy title that can mean a lot of things, most of which are pretty boring. 

Greg and Julie were both fans of the original series when they were kids.  Greg introduced me to it when I was at the tender age of 38.  It certainly took me back to the ’70s and reminded me of all the TV my parents forbade me from watching.

I’ve always been interested in evolution, and I mostly hate human beings, so the notion of a new species coming along and replacing us was quite intriguing. Once we settled on this new species being vastly better looking than us, I was sold.

Can you name a few things that you think have contributed to the success of the show?

Mostly pure luck.  When you cast a bunch of actors you are aware of their individual talent, but have no idea about their chemistry and synergy as a group.  We couldn’t have been more fortunate.  Our cast is tighter behind the scenes than they are on the show.  All are consummate professionals and all come prepared — they push each other — and as a result we’ve been able to take their characters very far in a relatively short time.  Working on TV is very, very hard.  If the people you’re working with are no good to be around there’s really no point in doing it.  I was equally as fortunate to have inherited a talented and lively writers’ room.  If we’re not having fun coming up with stories I think it would show on the screen in about half a millisecond.

Do you have any favorite characters on the show? If so, why?

I find Jedikiah is the easiest for me to write.  He’s a deeply messed up guy.  Hmm … Not sure if there’s a connection there or not.

Cara is interesting for me because I’ve always struggled to write female characters.  My first show, Veronica Mars, was created by Rob Thomas, who is somewhat the master at this.  Greg Berlanti and Julie Plec … yeah, they are big time masters at strong, interesting female characters.  After a decade of being around some talents I guess a portion has rubbed off on me.

We sat down with Mark Pellegrino who had some insightful comments on his character. Good and bad aren’t always black and white, and this show captures that human element really well. What are your thoughts on Jedikiah and his views?

As I’ve said before, I don’t know if there’s ever been a series in which the villain’s overarching goal was to, wait for it, save humanity… bum, bum, BUM!  Yeah, Jedikiah is trying to save us humans and yet he does all kinds of despicable stuff to do so.  There are further shades of grey you will see in his character in the back half of the season.  Not sure if we will get to the full fifty shades of grey, but we will try.

Did you ever feel that there would be a challenge remaking the TV show? Are you of the thought – “Stick to the original” or “use it as inspiration”? Would you elaborate a little?

When the original creator Roger Price told me how much he enjoyed the pilot I knew that everything was going to be okay.  I’m a little nervous to hear what the UK had to say.  I’m sure that the series is a sort of sacred cow over there.  In the states (that’s what super cosmopolitan world travelers such as myself call America) the show is a bit of an unknown, so except for the sci-fi purists, most of our audience was coming to TTP for the first time.

Also, this show was from the ’70s. Why do you think a topic from 40 years ago still resonates today?

The world is constantly evolving.  Generations are constantly pushing back against the generations before them.  The struggle to define the world as a generation is something that all young people should be a part of, and if they’re not they should stop complaining.  Our show is a fun sci-fi series, but I feel like a lot of our themes are substantial.  It’s a way of saying something without being dreary about it, which is always nice as a writer.  

Any fun stories you can share about filming?

Umm… I’m not sure if this is fun but Aaron broke his nose, Luke had hugely disfiguring dental surgery and our director got a nasty infection from a piece of wood he tripped on — all in the same week.  Mercury was in retrograde, however, and we survived it.   Took a few years off my life.

Can you give us a sneak peak on where the show is headed?

Stephen is going to learn the truth about his father’s disappearance.  The mysterious Founder is going to make a run at Jedikiah.  There will be sex and shirtlessness.  And I know that I have to say this but in this case it’s honest to God true… The show just keeps getting better and better.