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Jake Robinson Talks American Odyssey and Previews “Drop King” [Interview] 

Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC
Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

At the end of last week’s “Oscar Mike,” Bob let Harrison down in a major way. Even though he promised to get Harrison the proof he had that Odelle Ballard is still alive, he didn’t come through. Not only did Bob not hand over that proof, but he permanently deleted it so that (presumably) no other hacker will be able to get to it. So where does that leave Harrison? Is that the end of this occupy movement? Will he have to ask his father for help?

Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

TV Goodness participated in a press call earlier this week with series star Jake Robinson. Not only does he gives us insight into his character, but he also previews this week’s “Drop King,” talks conspiracy theories and tells us what season 2 might look like.

At the end of last week’s episode, we saw that Bob let you down. What are your character’s next steps and what are we going to see from Harrison in the next few weeks?

Jake Robinson: “The occupy movement in the G8 protest gets left behind a little bit. It becomes much more of a personal journey for him where there’s things that are affecting his personal life, affecting his family as he delves deeper into this, and it definitely has a more personal note for him and the things that are happening around him.

Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

That incites him even more to go after it, to uncover what’s going on, to figure out why these people are doing this and where Odelle is and what’s going to happen to her and how [he] can get that out there. That ties in with some familial stuff that you’ll see actually get started in the [this] episode and then continues throughout. I think episode 11, it finally gets resolved for him and then there’s more stuff that happens.”

I’m glad to hear that you character makes it to episode 11 because I’m definitely worried about him in particular getting knocked off.

Jake: “Me too.”

Something big happens in this week’s episode. How does that propel him forward?

Jake: “It plays a huge part in the story coming as to what goes on in his life. It’s a definite driving force, more importantly, he really turns it around for himself and uses it as a way to really go after the truth and what he wants.”

Can you tell us if there’s a possibility of additional seasons of this show with this set of characters or is it set up to mostly be a one and done type series?

Jake: “The end is definitely a cliffhanger and it’s a big cliffhanger. The final episode has a lot of stuff in it that’s left unresolved. Certain major things get resolved, but I think the majority of the story continues and it’s definitely set up to be a multiple season show and hopefully people tune in and the network decides that it’s worth keeping on its schedule. I know I’m certainly incredibly proud of it and I think it tells a very relevant and important story.”

Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Were you privy to the entirety of the first season story before you took the role, or did you have only the first couple scripts with the info and then you learned how it unfolded as shooting progressed?

Jake: “Initially when I took the role I only had the pilot script, which was fantastic. There’s a couple other things that I was being considered for at the time and it was just heads and shoulders by far the best script that I read. What was rare about the show was all the ideas were in place before we started shooting the pilot.

So I did know the beginning and the end, how to form my character before we began treating for the pilot, which was great because knowing where I was going with a clear head and [being] able to do research that was relevant and not really waste my time or waste other people’s time about what was important and what was necessary for the character.”

I asked just because of the Blackwater similarity. There’s the option where it could be that the whole private military thing is indicted or just could be singled out to one bad apple with a little unit and you don’t know how it’s going to shake out. I wondered if you knew ahead of time.

Jake: “As far as the Blackwater connection, it’s one of those things where even now suddenly the idea was thought of three years ago for what the whole nature of what the story would be of what American Odyssey was going to be.

So it’s really interesting how things have played out globally whether it’s the Greek finance problem with the Greek elections washing away, deciding whether just to default on all the debt and clear out of the Euro or Blackwater today.

I think there’s an article talking about it in The New York Times. It was either today or early this week with the Blackwater soldiers, private military contractors that have gotten charged with killing civilians in Afghanistan. And I think it was a seven year turnaround before you saw any sort of justice on what they’d done which was absolutely horrific.

Even now there’s more complications because they’re working for the state department that they might get out of it. So they’re going to appeal. It’s incredible that this was thought of three years beforehand, this stuff had just started happening and now things have really blown up. And I think there’s much more news and awareness of it for the general population.”

There’s so many political dramas out there. What would you say sets American Odyssey apart from all the other political dramas currently on air?

Jake: “I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s a political drama. I think it’s a human drama. It’s about three fairly normal individuals. It’s not about a President. It’s not about a Congressman. It’s not about the White House. It’s about us as citizens in the United States and how when something’s going horribly wrong and we’ve realized it, how can we make a difference? And it’s told from three different perspectives which I think is unique to the show.

It also makes you sit down and have to really pay attention to it because there’s a lot of stuff going on throughout every episode and that’s the main difference. It really is a human story and heartfelt, whether it’s about [Odelle’s] family, and you get introduced to my mother and my father in the next episode and how it’s affecting everyone’s home life, what’s going as well as the bigger picture. [Is] the government bad or are these corporations bad? It’s more about how these people are struggling in their lives to make decisions and go after what they want.

I love the conspiracy aspect of it. I love the thriller aspect and it was incredibly relevant to what was going on as well with the political activist role and being in his 20s and struggling with a lot of things that I felt like I was searching for in my own life at the time.

And so it was a natural fit and it was really exciting. I could tell it was going to be something big in the way it was filmed and it was going to be epic. It really came through on that at the shoot itself. It didn’t really feel like a typical television shoot. It felt more like we were shooting this giant epic movie over four months.”

Were you much of a conspiracy theorist before and has playing Harrison changed your attitude about these types of government conspiracies now?

Jake: “Great question. Absolutely. Initially I was a pretty straight-laced — this is how they’re reporting it and this is how it must be and this is how it is. Definitely after doing the show and doing research and reading various books and delving into things more, I think I’ve definitely gone out and started to question what’s right and what’s true and what’s actually going on and really trying to research myself and find answers for myself which is what Harrison is also doing in American Odyssey.

There’s certain conspiracies that are way further out there than others, some things are closer to home. I see it already on social media and across the board and people are like my gosh, is this actually happening? Is this what’s going on? Is our government doing these things? That’s what’s exciting about being on the show to me.”

Do you think that’s a good thing to be questioning what we’re told?

Jake: “Absolutely. We have to exercise our rights whether you’re a political activist, whether you’re protesting something as simple as the right to vote which so many people don’t. Hopefully this gets people active. I think if we have an active population and a free thinking population, then we have a better country.”

Do you think social media changed the way that everybody looks at news and conspiracies versus how they used to?

Jake: “Yes, great question. It absolutely does. There’s good and a bad side to it. The good side to it is that people are generally more aware of what’s happening on a consistent basis. The bad side to it is it’s not necessary. There’s a lot more sources out there so it’s hard to really know who you’re trusting or who’s putting false information or good information out there.

The other bad thing about it is that social media allows people to hide behind the platform or the Internet, and they really don’t have to have a face to face interaction and there’s something to be said for being somewhere face to face with people and telling them what you believe and think versus writing whatever – a tweet – and saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ and send it out.

So I do think it’s good that it’s getting more news stories and causing discussion among people. I think that we also do have to be very careful though about what the cost is of spreading that information out there without really knowing what’s going on.”

Is there any direction or storyline you’d like to see your character go into in season 2?

Jake: “I know where it ends in this season, so honestly I have no idea as to how he gets out of the hole that he’s in at season’s end. It’s rough. It’s rough where he ends the season.

I can’t answer that because I was so pleased with the way that first season and the way that his story unfolded throughout the first season that if they’re doing anything like what they’re doing in the first season then I’ll be over the moon about it.”

Photo Credit: Keith Bernstein/NBC
Photo Credit: Keith Bernstein/NBC

Episode synopsis, from NBC:

Now captive in Bamako, Odelle must prove her value to an Ansar Dine interrogator. Meanwhile, in New York, Harrison reluctantly turns to his famous journalist father for help when he learns he has a connection to Colonel Glen. Peter finds himself in danger after uncovering new evidence against Societel Mining. Under pressure, he takes a meeting with Sophia Tsaladari, the leading candidate for Greek Prime Minister – which leads to an unexpected breakthrough.

American Odyssey airs Sundays at 10/9c on NBC.


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