For a post-apocalyptic thriller set thousands of years in the future, “Wayward Pines” may still be a little too close to today’s reality for Djimon Hounsou. The actor, who joins the cast of “Pines” starting with tonight’s episode, says viewers might want to take heed of the show’s message.
Hounsou plays CJ Mitchum, a man tasked with protecting human life through several millennia. On most of the planet, human beings have evolved into monster aberrations, or “abbies.” But as it becomes tougher to provide for human survivors within the walls of Wayward Pines, Mitchum begins to wonder if nature should simply take its course.
It’s Hounsou’s first on-screen TV role in over ten years (since “Alias”). Mid-way through shooting Season 2 of “Wayward Pines” in Vancouver, Hounsou returned to Los Angeles for 24 hours for a quick press tour. The Oscar-nominated actor spoke with IndieWire about how “Wayward Pines” might be relevant to modern society, his character’s motivations and why he didn’t need much prep for the role. Warning: Some Season 2 spoilers ahead.
How do you like working in TV again?
I’m feeling great. You spend a great deal of time getting acquainted with your character [in TV], which is unusual when you’re used to doing feature films.
Do you have any idea where the Season 2 storyline is going?
We’re kept slightly in the dark. I only find out on a weekly basis where we’re headed.
As an actor who needs to prepare, does that frustrate you?
No, I like that. I don’t want to know. I’m just doing my job. It will clutter your brain and impede your performance. I like the surprise, finding out.
And this is a show with a lot of surprises.
Yes, and obviously the thing that runs through this story is a great mystery. It’s a roller coaster type of show, where each corner has a tremendous twist to the story.
As frightening as the ‘abbies’ are outside of the wall, the humans inside Wayward Pines are just as scary.
That’s true. CJ Mitchum, the character I play, suddenly feels like humanity has doomed itself and it’s time to end it. He’s an extinctionist. He was the caretaker of the human seeds. But at the same time, he has a tremendous need for humanity not to go against nature. If nature is dictating the change, then let it be.
There are some similarities on the show to how humans are dealing with issues like climate change right now.
There are a lot of parallels. That’s why to some degree there’s no need for research (in this role). You’re living the life. You’re researching the life as you live it.
What do you make of people who don’t believe humans are contributing to global climate change?
We’re truly are causing something. We are obviously instrumental to this planet’s well-being. We certainly created a lot of things that are impacting the environment.
Does CJ have a point?
I’m very sympathetic to CJ. I do think he has a point. He may be extreme in how he shows his point.
What did you make of the show’s overall twist, revealed last season?
I liked it. We’re heading in that direction, you know.
Would you want to be put in a state of suspended animation, in order to wake up in a different world thousands of years from now?
I don’t know. That’s the dilemma. You want to survive, but [for CJ] to have to be the caretaker of the seeds of humanity, that in itself is frightening. To stay alive or be dead. At one point he says, there’s no difference. It’s almost the same. The need to have to witness that devastation, the end of the world, that’s a lot. The last episode I did was so lonely, as the makeup of that story, it’s a lonely world to be the only one left to care for humanity’s seed. The last story we shot was how CJ Mitchum wakes up every 20 years to take care of humanity.
Is this a one-season project for you?
There’s an opportunity to return for another season. It’s been quite nice doing TV. You get acquainted with the arc of your character better than in features.
Does that mean you know this character better than most others you have played?
Yeah and it certainly resonates quite nicely. It’s nice to do more than the one-sentence delivery in feature film. I’m liking him more and more.
The Wayward Pines population struggles as a society when food supplies grow low. That’s true in communities today all over the world.
It’s the desperate need to supply food for that generation in Wayward Pines. The issue of fresh water, the increase of heat around the world. Those things resonate in our story. The world we live in today is very similar.
What’s your one question about this future world? I’m wondering where they get all that beer, wine and soda.
You know in the Bible, the first thing they did was build a winery. You’ve got to have a drink to forget your setting!