Interview: Jes Macallan on Legends Of Tomorrow, diversity representation and Oz Comic Con Melbourne 2018

Jes Macallan is a classical dancer and occasional model and now taking a leap into acting. Best known for her role as the badass boss of the Time Bureau on Legends Of Tomorrow or as Josslyn Carver on Mistresses, one of a group of female friends caught up in mixture of scandalous activity. Macallan is a multi faceted person both on and offscreen. We had a chat with her in the lead up to her visit to Melbourne for Oz Comic Con.

Generally the first thing off the bat with any foreigners coming for conventions is we like to know if have they been to visit our shores before. From a professional standpoint not so much for Macallan. But her partner, Australian actor Nic Bishop, means she’s often here for personal visits. Obviously there’s no need for me to espouse the magic of tim tams or vegemite then.

“No, so the moment we met, I had Vegemite, Tim Tams, all of it. I actually love Vegemite. I think I’m the only American who really enjoys it. I’ve been turned into an Australian. I learnt the trick to spread it thin. This is the problem, and this is what I always tell all of my friends, that I’m attempting to convert all of America to Vegemite, because it’s so good for you. They say, “Oh, it tastes disgusting,” and I’m like, “You have to treat it almost like an olive tapenade, or something really potent, and only do a little bit.” Personally I like it with avocado and tomato.”

For those unfamiliar with Legends Of Tomorrow, it falls in the DC CW “Arrowverse” comic book adaptation shows helmed by Greg Berlanti and a cavalcade of directors and writers. The show centers around a group of unlikely superheroes travelling through time trying to fix mistakes (anachronisms) in history. So you can expect some unusual things popping up along the way. Macallan describes introducing her family to the show with a particularly hilarious episode titled “Beebo, God Of War”, where a bunch of Vikings end up worshipping a stuffed toy as a God. And let’s not forget that time they had a young Barack Obama make an appearance.

“I went to show my parents, every parent you would hope wants to watch what you do. It’s so funny, because it was the episode with Beebo, the furry toy. Literally, there was just this silence, like just an awkward silence for 45 minutes, and then it ended, and everyone was like, “Okay. What is that?” and I said, “You have to really get into it and get invested in the characters and know that there are no rules on that show.” It’s time travel, it’s absolutely ridiculous, and it just can’t take itself too seriously.
Then they did a little bit with Barack Obama too, on the second to last episode, that I thought was really cool as well. We have the young Barack Obama, and he was running away from Gorilla Grodd, it’s just, it’s kind of very Men in Black, too. We can erase memories, and it’s really fun.”

Surprisingly though, even when the show is being utterly cheesy and ridiculous is when it also has a tendency to hide its symbolism, metaphors and allegory. That particular episode about Beebo is a not so subtle dig at worshipping false gods, and idolatry, and how that ends up having a ripple effect across a long line of Christian based history.

“Well that’s the thing, when you talk to the writers, I always kind of applaud them, because there’s no way in hell that I would be able to keep all the storylines and the history all together. But if you really do think about what they have to come up with, especially the Beebo episode, you’ve got this band of vikings, you go back in time, imagine if time were broken, and throw in this stuffed animal, which is based off a take on the “Tickle Me Elmo” doll, I don’t know if that was big over here, but it was all the rage in the States. If this stuffed animal happened to somehow get in some weird hands and end up in viking time, they would think, “Oh, my god!” There is truth in there, because it talks, and when you touch it, it’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Macallan was added to the cast lineup for Legends Of Tomorrow in Season 3. Taking over from Arthur Darvill’s Rip Hunter as the new boss of the Time Bureau, Ava Sharpe. She was less forgiving than Hunter and came head to head with the captain of the Waverider, Sarah Lance (Caity Lotz). This fiery female character duo soon got to heating the screen up with their not so secretive love affair. Legends in particular has always been a show that champions LGBTIQA diversity representation, so it came as no surprise to bring Sharpe and Lance together for audiences. The show itself has been consistent with attempts at normalising and bringing that representation on screen without making a huge deal out of it for its characters.

“1000%. I mean you just absolutely said it much more eloquently than I actually ever could. I’m a little bit new to this world, I think the second lesbian or sexually fluid character that has ever been on the show. We just did a panel for Warner Brothers for all the employees, with Greg Berlanti, and it was really interesting to talk about these kind of topics. To me, I think it’s the normalising, he’s doing a really good job, especially for the demographic of who watches the show, which is the younger generation. To just not make a show of it, or like a stereotype. Just because he is this way, he’s a gay character, she’s a lesbian character, and however they love, they still have really full storylines and really important jobs. It’s what I loved about Ava Sharpe, she is a really powerful woman, she is the head of the entire Time Bureau. She’s a really strong woman in a man’s world, all that stuff plays out, and that’s a character that I would love playing any day of the week, and then you tack on that she does prefer women to men. It’s fine, but it doesn’t have to be her entire being. It just sort of heightens the world of what there is to play already in that strong female character.”

Of course being the somewhat silly show that it is, we couldn’t help but ask given the choice to have any character from the Arrowverse join the Legends team, who would Macallan pick to have aboard the Waverider.

“I would have to say, and only because I love her as a human being is Juliana Harkavy’s character on **pause** I confuse them all the time, she’s on Arrow right? She’s the new Canary, and she’s kind of Stephen Amell’s like, not sidekick. I hate to give a woman the word sidekick anymore, because that even feels dated. She’s Stephen Amell’s sort of 2IC (2nd In Command) I think, right? They kind of fight together and she’s joined the crew.
It’s funny, because I tested for that role and auditioned like crazy and wanted that role desperately, because it’s super physical and she’s kind of super and badass, she has all the fighting skills. So and I just think that she is a beautiful human being, inside and out. I also love Wentworth Miller. I just think he’s lovely, and he’s such a nice guy. I think he’s gone for good though, and I can’t even I’m sad, was he Iceman or something like that? (Editor note: He was Captain Cold) That was before I came on the show, so I’d never watched it. He’s such a lovely human and has such a wonderful fan base.”

Season 4 of Legends Of Tomorrow will see her character, along with fellow Season 3 ring-in Matt Ryan who played Constantine, both as series regulars. As well as more of Ava Sharpe’s right hand man Gary Green too. So the ever evolving lineup aboard the Waverider continues to grow, as will the number of adventures they have.

“Totally. Luckily, he’s fantastic to work with, there was this one episode where I kind of teamed up with Constantine and Gary, who’s my favorite character on the show. I love Gary, I think Adam Tsekhman who plays him, who’s just absolutely a comedic genius. We teamed up with Constantine, and I got to work with him (Matt Ryan) for three solid days, and he’s brilliant. The amount of dialogue and it’s not easy to pull that off, to pull off the timing and the speed and just make it like he’s speaking Latin sometimes, or he’s speaking Italian. Sometimes we’re sitting there and we’re looking at each other, like, “What are we even talking about?” because it’s so much space jargon. He does it effortlessly, and again he had a season of a show to do it as Constantine, and I know that he really embodies that character. He, onset, is just like a powerhouse beast. So much fun to work with. I agree with you, it’s going to be a really fun season hopefully.”

Pictured (L-R): Matt Ryan as Constantine, Adam Tsekhman as Agent Gary Green and Jes Macallan as Ava Sharpe — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW –© 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jes Macallan will be appearing at Oz Comic Con Melbourne which will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th June.
For more information and to purchase tickets go to the official Oz Comic Con website, and follow their social media channels.