The Tomorrow People: Aaron Yoo On Russell’s Backstory & Winning The ‘Shirtless Sweepstakes’

“The Tomorrow People” digs into the backstory of Aaron Yoo’s character, Russell, tonight on The CW.

So far, Russell has been the fun loving member of the group of advanced species humans, serving as ringmaster during last week’s “jaunting” match between Cara (Peyton List) and John (Luke Mitchell), partying it up at an event (secretly organized by Ultra), and developing a friendship with Stephen (Robbie Amell). This week’s episode though will show the emotional side of Russell, who left home at 17, and returns to that very place following the death of his father.

Aaron addressed the emotional turmoil coming for Russell (which will also include some flashback scenes) after asked him about his lighthearted Season 1 goal – getting his ridiculously cute canine companion Merlin on the show. He also explained the “shirtless sweepstakes” that exists among the male cast members, and how exactly he’s beating out Luke and Robbie in that game.

WATCH: Aaron Yoo Talks Having Super Abilities & Working With Robbie Amell On ‘The Tomorrow People’ Will Merlin, your dog, also be taking part in this interview?

Aaron Yoo: (Laughs) Merlin’s curled up in his little igloo and he’s like, ‘Hi!’

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Access: Have you gotten any closer to getting Merlin in ‘The Tomorrow People’?

Aaron: I don’t know. These writers… they have so many ideas up on the board, how and when Merlin will make an appearance. He actually almost wandered into a scene one time when we were shooting, so I’m thinking I’m might almost try to sneak him in the background, like a Hitchcock moment, where you see we’re doing something and in the background you’re like, ‘Is that a dog on the couch?’

Access: Or he could be in Stephen’s high school — someone brings a dog to school?

Aaron: Totally! When we were shooting this episode that airs this week — Russell’s back story — Russell and John wind up travelling across the country for Russell to go home because he finds out his father passes away. We’re shooting this episode and there’s all these really emotional, harrowing scenes. It was actually so much fun to shoot because as an actor… it’s kind of half of why you do it is like, ‘Oh, I get to feel all these terrible emotions without actual real world consequences.’ So we’re doing all this stuff and Nathan Hope, who directed the episode… he was so great with us and guiding us through these scenes… we were in these really quite sad, just heart-wrenching scene between John and Russell and I go up to Nathan and I go, ‘Nathan, Nathan I got it. I figured it out.’ And he goes, ‘What? What?’ I go, ‘So when Russell and John go home tomorrow, Russell’s family has a little black dog.’ (Laughs) He was like, ‘What?’ … ‘And of course John’s like, ‘Well, OK Russell. You can bring the dog home with us back to the lair!’ I was like, ‘See! We’ve got it and it all totally just narratively makes sense.’ Nathan hadn’t been with us for the first five episodes, he had no idea what the hell we were talking about.

WATCH: Stephen Amell & Robbie Amell — What Were They Like Growing Up?

Access: Hilarious – and you revealed a lot about the episode with that answer. Now, will we get Russell flashbacks too?

Aaron: Yes! You are definitely going to get some flashbacks, which is always great because I love the style in which we shoot these flashbacks. … In mine, you see when Russell breaks out and there are things that happen in and around that breakout. And also, just the nature of what his childhood was [like] growing up… he has a lot of things that he’s hidden from everyone in The Tomorrow People — just sort of painful things about his past that he has chosen not to deal with until Tim, that wet rag, tells him his father has passed away. Tim, our supercomputer, is kind of just like constantly the bearer of bad news over the course of our show.

Access: What kind of bad stuff is in Russell’s past?

Aaron: I’ll leave that to you [to see in the episode], but I will say he has issues. He’s had a troubled history with his father and one of the reasons why he feels compelled to have to go home is that he ran away from his father, however many years ago, and he’s never dealt with that. One of the interesting things I was thinking about, about living in the subway… if you were actually stuck down in that subway tunnel, like The Tomorrow People are, you have no sense of time. … There are no seasons, there are no days. … Part of what is so tragic about The Tomorrow People, their story, is that they’re trapped. They’re alive, but they’re not living. Like with Russell… his childhood is completely unresolved, it also is immediate. The things that happened to him feel like they just happened because he doesn’t really have any sense of time passing.

Access: Speaking of passing time, before you have to go (and since it’s a theme), do you have to get shirtless and join Luke Mitchell and Robbie Amell in this little shirtless club?

Aaron: Well, I’ll tell you, in this episode, I don’t and I’m very happily winning the shirtless sweepstakes in terms of how we determine it, which is he who is least shirtless is winning.

Access: Mark Pellegrino is totally winning too, then.

Aaron: Umm… I’m gonna say that may or may not be true! Uh-oh! And things might happen in this episode that might make you realize that Russell is winning over everybody. There’s some crazy things that happen. What’s great about this show is our writers take care of all of us. There might be a focus on one storyline or another for a couple episodes, the overarching storyline is to find Roger Price, but even Jedekiah and especially Jedekiah… man… Jedekiah — starting this week all the way through… Episode 13, the evolution of Mark’s character is so amazing. There are so many things that happen with him. You find out so many more things about him. If he were just like the big bad guy then, I think, at a certain point, we’d fall into an unexciting pattern, but a lot of what’s great about our show is his character develops so much and in such amazing ways and unexpected ways that you’ll be [like] I am right now. I’ve read Episode 113 and I really need to know what happens in 114!

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“The Tomorrow People” airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on The CW.

-- Jolie Lash

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