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Exclusive: Dominic Sherwood Talks Shadowhunters and Teases the Arrival of Sebastian

Dominic SherwoodTonight Freeform airs an all-new episode of Shadowhunters, "Love is a Devil." The show, based on the book series The Mortal Instruments, by Cassandra Clare, follows half-angel/half human hunters as they try to protect our world from demons. Last week, Dominic Sherwood, who stars as Jace, talked to SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about his work on the show, working with Will Tudor as Sebastian, and whats to come for Jace this season.




SCIFI VISION: Did you read the books before you started working on the show?

Dominic SherwoodDOMINIC SHERWOOD: I read the first one, and I’d done a young adult adaptation once before, and it was kind of the same thing. When I read the first book, it gave me a decent sense of the world and the characters, where they come from and who they are, what their relationships are with each other and what their past is, what the dangers are, and the positives about being these characters. Past that, it ends up being overly convoluted for me to have so many different things, stimuli, in front of me. Also, you have to remember there is the movie as well, which obviously we’ve seen, most of us, and then the books, and then, on top of that, the scripts, which do differ in places.

So for me, it was important I understood the world and understood Cassie Clare’s vision - her original vision, but from then on out, there’s the script, so I’m playing that version of Jace. I’m not playing necessarily the version of Jace that’s been covered in media before; I’m playing the version of Jace that’s been covered in the scripts.

So I can pull pieces from his past, you know, different kinds of intricacies of the character. For example, it’s written in the books that Jace has an odd character trait that he plays with his stele, and Cassie wrote that Clary notices that it’s strange that someone so confident would have kind of a nervous tick. So throughout season one and what we’ve done so far with season two, that’s the character trait I threw in from the books.

So those kind of things are very important, but anything apart from that, if I knew where he went, where his journey kind of ended up, and where it took him in the future, that would be a little much for me, personally, to separate.

Other than the script or the book, is there anything or anyone else that you took inspiration from that informed the way you play the character?

Very much with his fighting style, which Matt Daddario, the stunt team, and I have all spoken about quite heavily. We even looked back into kind of the origins of the word "parabatai," where they come from, and this, that, and the other. And we ended up going back as far as the Greeks, and [them] moving and fighting alongside other soldiers in such an intimate sense, was very heavy through Greek mythology, folklore, and Greek history. So we looked quite heavily into that and developed our own modern take on that.

And then there is obviously the more, I suppose, direct factors of things, like changing Jace’s accent, whereabouts in New York he’s from, and talking to Matt Daddario, because, obviously, they have to speak similarly, because they’ve been together since they were, you know, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen years old. So things like that were pretty heavy.

Dominic SherwoodWhat I tend to do, is I write a journal for new characters that I’m playing. I write a journal from their point of view, kind of covering their experiences, and then I’ll get the script and write the journal based on whatever I’m doing in those scripts. And I’ll add to the journal, go through it, and then use that as a reference, go back, and look at, you know, 'Oh, Jace is feeling this this day, and that led into this, and he’s now feeling this, because of this, and he has this aim, because he felt this before, or this is his goal, because this was happening previously.'

At the point we’re at right now, Jace is kind of, I guess you could call it benched. Aldertree (Nick Sagar)’s keeping him away from everything, so he’s going to live with Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.). Can you talk about how that’s affecting him? Has he given up at all? And how is it going to affect his relationships with the other Shadowhunters, since he’s kind of pulling away?

Absolutely. I mean, we’ve just seen that this is forcing a divide between Jace and Alec (Daddario). Especially because Jace has quit. He’s kind of hung up his sword, and he’s like, 'That’s fine if you don’t want me to be a part of this; I’ve been through so much to try and help,' and in all the ways that he thought he was going to help. And then he comes back to the Institute after having been tortured, beaten, and broken by Valentine (Alan Van Sprang), and finds out all of these atrocities about himself and his past, and he's going through all of this devastation.

And then, to come back to the Institute and not be welcomed back with open arms - and in my opinion, the kind of hero that he is, because he has sacrificed so much of himself for the greater good, for the things that he believed in, for Clary (Katherine McNamara), for Alec, to save their lives, and to try to stop Valentine. He sacrifices everything for that, to the point of him willing to die for it. So he is [a hero], and he wasn’t welcomed back as a hero; he was welcomed back as a villain.

So, right now we find Jace in a place of - he’s done. He’s quit; he’s past it; he’s over it. And it came to fruition in this [last] episode. There’s a threat - a danger - that Jace simply couldn't ignore, and it drew him back into the fold.

Simply put, if Clary’s ever in danger, regardless of their situation, Jace’s love for her will have him do anything.

So at the end of the episode, Jace is off doing his thing. We see him in the Hunter's Moon, completely having quit. He’s drinking, he’s with girls, and he doesn’t care about anything else. He’s really gone into a kind of self-loathing place, and Luke (Isaiah Mustafa) approaches him and says, “Hey, we need you.” And Jace says, “Not interested. I don’t care. Whatever it is, I don’t care. If they don’t want me as part of this, I’m not going to be a part of it.” And Luke says, “Clary’s in trouble,” and no other words are needed; Jace just gets up and goes, and that’s that. When he is needed, for Clary, he’s going to be there.

Dominic SherwoodSpeaking of Clary, at this point in the story, she and Jace are struggling with the fact that they've been told they're siblings. Can you talk about how he’s struggling with this and kind of tease about what’s coming for the two of them as the season progresses?

Clary actually deals with it infinitely better than Jace does. And Clary finds herself - because we are following the books, to a certain extent, but there are, of course differences as well, but without giving too much away, the relationship between the two of them Jace really struggles with. We found out in the last couple of episodes, that superfluous of the fact that they’re brother and sister, Jace does still have feelings for her, and he doesn’t understand them, and he knows that they’re incorrect. He knows that they’re wrong to the point of that embarrassment and that shock of it coming to light with Aldertree in the City of Bones. He was ready to kill himself. He was ready to finish it there, because he knows those feelings aren’t correct, and he thinks something’s wrong with him. So that’s kind of a tough place that he’s found himself in, and all I can says is that it gets worse before it gets better.

I know you've started filming the back half of the season, and I know you probably can't reveal much, but can you talk a little bit about Jace’s relationship, coming up, with Sebastian, or maybe just, at least, about working with Will Tudor?

We actually haven’t covered a whole bunch of it yet anyway, just kind of the first meeting, and we’re learning little bits about Sebastian and the character.

So I actually don’t know where that relationship is going to go in the future. We’ve got an idea based on the books and the story that happens through there, but we don’t know what’s going to go on.

Fortunately, working with Will, Will and I have known each other for - wow, almost five years. Not only do we have the same manager, we're with the same agents in the UK, we worked together in a clothing store in the UK way back when, and we’ve done movies together since then. So we’ve known each other for quite a while.

So when I found out that Sebastian was being written into the show, I spoke to my manager and said that Will would be good for this.

And he auditioned, and I got sent the tapes, and I sent them to the producers to say, “Look, this is a buddy of mine; I think he’s great for the job.” And they had already noticed him, and they said, “Yeah. He’s probably our guy. We already know.” I was like, "Oh, okay, so I didn’t need to say anything."

Could you talk a bit about some of the stunts you do? I know you recently said that there was a big stunt coming up at some point soon?

Dominic SherwoodYeah, I’m going to try to post it, with the approval of the powers-that-be, but there’s something that we're going to do thats called a box jump. And we have to make sure that I can do it safely, and I was training for it [last week], but it’s basically a twenty-foot jump into cardboard boxes, which is a safer version than mats or an airbag. So twenty feet off of - I don’t know if I can even say what, but a twenty-foot jump into cardboard boxes. And we practiced it, and we’re going to take it a little higher, and a little higher, and a little higher until we reach the height we need to be at. And that’s something that I essentially have coming up.

You know, we try to do as much as we can, but there are times when the stunt team, the producers, and the rest of the cast and crew simply say you know, it just isn't safe for us to do this, because we haven’t been doing it long enough to adequately exercise those abilities. So if we can get to a place where we know we can do it safely, and we know we can do it to the best of our abilities, then we will. If we can’t, then we won’t. It’s as simple as that. But, hopefully I'll be able to show everyone what we were at least practicing. It’s a lot of fun.

The other thing I saw you had mentioned recently, is that there’s kind of an emotional scene coming up with Alec and Jace at some point in the future. Is there anything at all you can tease about that?

All I can really say, is that the bond between Alec and Jace is something so strong, that really the only time we see Jace fully vulnerable, fully let all of his walls and his emotional armor down, is with Alec.

And we reach a point early on in the second half of the season, where Jace has simply been through so much, that he just can’t contain it. He can’t keep those emotions in check anymore. And he kind of relies on Alec for that. As for why or what happens, I unfortunately can’t say.

Is there something you can tease specifically about the next episode?

I can tease that we you’re going to see a subversive version of all of our characters, kind of in the vein of, but not the same as, episode ten of last year, where we all went to our a different dimension. The characters have kind of pitted their emotions against themselves and against one another, and it causes some real conflicts for everyone, for every single one of our characters. We also get to see Max (Jack Fulton) again, which we’re all looking forward to, cute little bugger that he is. He’s coming back, and we get to see him. Maryse (Nicola Correia-Damude) is coming back as well; we get to see Maryse again, which everyone is looking forward to. So yeah, it’s a fun episode; it’s a good episode; it's a good episode for everyone.

Dominic SherwoodIf you could give Jace advice, what would it be and why?

[Laughs] Just probably to ignore Clary. That first time he meets her, that's where all these problems came from. Just ignore her. Walk right past her.

Can you describe Jace in three words?

That is so interesting, because it completely changes. [laughs] We met Jace at the beginning of season one, and he was one character who’s sure of himself and confident, and arrogant even, I’d go that far. So, those would be the three words that I would use at the beginning: self-assured, confident, and arrogant.

And now, it would probably be self-conscious - the opposite. Self-conscious, lost, and faithful - loving. Either of those two, because that’s really the key of Jace that drives him, is his love for the people around him.

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