Step aside, dystopian societies and post-apocalyptic futures. There’s a new cool trend on television right now called time travel, and it seems to be here to stay. NBC’s addition to the fray, Timeless, offers something for action lovers and history buffs alike.
Timeless follows three unlikely adventurers, played by Abigail Spencer (Suits, Rectify), Matt Lanter (90210) and Malcolm Barrett (Better Off Ted), who follow mysterious villain Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic, ER) through time to stop him from changing the course of American history. The pilot episode, airing Monday night, follows their trip to the Hindenburg disaster in 1937.
The TV Junkies had the chance to speak with the Visnjic about what it’s like to visit a different time period each episode and why viewers should come along for the ride.
The TV Junkies: How did you get involved with the show?
Goran Visnjic: Well, I got a phone call from Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke’s office sending me the script and asking if I’d like to do it. After meeting those two guys I was asking myself, ‘how would that show look like?’ The fact that Ryan and Kripke were working together is pretty much what sold me. If you imagine some crazy cross-breed between The Shield and Supernatural, it’s an interesting show to watch, so I said, ‘I’m in, guys.’
TTVJ: As villains go, Flynn is very mysterious. At this point we don’t truly know or understand what his motives are. How do you approach playing a role like that?
GV: That’s exactly what the pilot is about. It trips you up and promises you will have a good time if you tune in and keep watching, so that’s exactly what you’ve seen about Flynn in the first episode, it’s just the hook. Afterwards we’re going to see plenty of things coming up with him in the respect of why he’s doing what he’s doing and all these things are going to be happening, he’s going to keep surprising us on every turn.
You have to trust the creators when they tell you, ‘this is the plan, this is what we’re going to do.’ I’m not allowed to say [what that is], but trust me. We’re already [filming] episode seven and it’s been a really cool ride.
TTVJ: When playing a villain, do you find that to create your performance you need to empathize with them?
GV: Well, honestly, when you play a character like this, there are some things he does, and you definitely do not agree with his methods or the things that he would do that’s in contrast with something of you. I’m doing some things on the show that I’m so against and wouldn’t do in real life. I have to swallow that and do it because it’s my character doing it and not me. Then again, when you do something really cool and really good you take pride in it. Fortunately it’s only acting. You don’t really need to live through that.
TTVJ: Because of the time travel aspect, every episode you’re visiting new time periods, which means new costumes and new sets. How fun is that to shoot?
GV: It’s really nice to be on a show that is so versatile, in a way. It’s a little bit like doing a different show every episode. It’s fun for actors to be dressed in a different costume, visit different eras. The majority of us thought being actors when you’re a kid, that little spark inside of you starts with putting costumes on yourself and pretending to be someone else. Where better to be than on a time travelling show where you can visit every era and every time period? It’s a brilliant thing, and really fun.
TTVJ: Is there any time period in particular that has been a favorite so far?
GV: We just recently completed the episode about the Alamo. We’re using flint guns and the costumes from the period, I was speaking Spanish with Mexican General Santa Anna. It was pretty wild just to be able to do that on a TV show that’s actually set in the 21st century. You’re suddenly walking inside a tent on the battlefield and there’s Santa Anna in front of you, and you start speaking Spanish to the guy. It’s really kind of insane and intense in a good way.
TTVJ: It seems like there are so many time travel shows competing with each other right now. What would you say makes Timeless stand out from the others?
GV: Without going into any details about the show, we are not restricted into how far in the past we can go. We’ve done only seven episodes and we’ve already visited all the way to the 1700s, and visually it’s going to be a stunning show because we’re visiting all of these time periods. On the other hand, we’re not going to be shy to ask some questions. Our grandfathers did good things here and there in history, but we’re going to be re-examining history, we’re going to be asking questions about social justice, and what would you do if you could go to the past and change something. Would you do it? What if it changed things for the worst?
It’s going to be a fun show to watch, but it’s also going to be very thought-provoking. After every episode you’re going to be asking people in your family, ‘what would you do? Do you think they did a good thing? Would you do something different?’ It’s going be an interesting ride and that’s why I think this one is gonna be really good.
TTVJ: If you had the chance to go back in time, what era would you go to?
GV: There are so many answers. I have so many that I can actually give everyone a different answer. I’m kind of a history buff and I always wanted to be a part of it and see how things work. I’ve always been amazed with the Egyptian pyramids. The big question: how were they built? I don’t think it was aliens or anything like that, but I would love to see how they did it. It would be impressive to spend some time there to see how those guys engineered such a marvel with the technology that they had. It would be an amazing thing to do.
Are you planning in checking out Visnjic’s new villainous role on Timeless? Sound off in the comments below.
Timeless premieres Monday, Oct. 3 at 10 p.m. ET on Global and NBC.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.