Luke Mitchell portrays Danny Cooper on The CW’s The Republic of Sarah. New episodes of the series air on Mondays at 9:00PM ET. At this year’s virtual SeriesFest: Season 7, which is an international television festival, there was a special screening of the first three episodes of the show as well as a Q&A with the cast.
The bucolic tranquility of Greylock, New Hampshire is upended when a massive vein of coltan — an incredibly valuable mineral used in tech — is discovered under the town. State-backed mining company Lydon Industries swoops in with plans to extract the mineral… plans that include wiping Greylock off the map. With her friends and family in danger of losing their homes, rebellious high school teacher Sarah Cooper (Stella Baker) vows to stop Lydon’s bulldozers and declare independence from the United States for Greylock.
I spoke with the actor about what attracted him to the project, what he’s most excited for fans to see from the rest of the season, his most challenging roles, participating in SeriesFest: Season 7, and much more! Keep reading to find out his answers.
What is it like for you as an actor to introduce your audience and fans to a whole new show rather than joining an established one?
Luke Mitchell: Yeah, it’s really cool. It’s a completely different vibe and I think especially a show like The Republic of Sarah where it feels like it’s something different to what’s on offer in the TV landscape at the moment. So, I mean I’m incredibly proud of the show. I’m incredibly proud of the cast. Yeah, I don’t know, it’s rad.
Is there something that specifically attracted you to not only the project, but this role as well?
There’s a couple of things. I think first and foremost, it was the character, Danny. I mean, I connected with him immediately and knew that I could bring something interesting to him. I think he’s such a fascinating character. He’s really well written. He’s ambiguous; certainly when first meeting him, you don’t really know what you’re going to get with him. But there are just so many layers there and so many colors to play with, which is really fun for me. I think the world is unique, but it’s also comforting. It’s this really picturesque, cozy little town that becomes its own nation, filled with wonderfully unique, diverse, quirky, and flawed characters. So, that’s funny in and of itself. The other thing was meeting with Jeff King, getting a feel for who he is as a person and as a storyteller, and what his energy was like. I knew after meeting with him that I wanted to do this cause he just really set the right tone from the top down.
Danny is Sarah’s brother; what is it like getting to work off of that dynamic, and creating it as well?
Love Stella Baker. She’s a wonderful actress and a fantastic person. It’s really been a special experience bringing this dynamic to life. It’s juicy, complicated, and there’s so much going on there. I think they really need each other, but there are so many obstacles. I think, ultimately, Danny needs Sarah a lot more than he realizes, and I think it comes down to just a severe lack of love. And I mean, the sort of love that you would ordinarily get from your parents, and he hasn’t got that. So, I think he’s in a love deficit and that kind of love he can only get from Sarah, whether he knows it yet or not. I really hope that the audience is rooting for them to be on really great terms, but yeah it’s fun to play out because of the business hurdles; they have opposing views and opinions on things, but also Danny works for Lydon, which is kind of the bad guy.
What has been your favorite plot or moment that fans have seen so far, and then what can you tease about what’s to come?
Good one, good question. Favorite thing that the audience has already seen is the ramifications and effects that his mother has on him. When Ellen comes to see Danny, you see him be able to hold it together and put her in a place. Then the door shuts, she’s still there and getting at him in the privacy of his safe zone, which becomes triggering for him, and he has a panic attack; getting to see a little glimpse of that was extremely challenging for me, but I’m really glad that we’re going there with this story because it’s really important if you’re gonna set up a story like that and a character that you deal with it. And yeah, we go there, which is important. So I’d say I would lean towards that for something that the audience has already seen.
In terms of what’s coming up, I think episode six and seven are my favorite episodes or certainly two of my favorite episodes and they are directed by Megan Follows, who plays Ellen, my mother. They just come together really well, but there is a particular scene at the end of episode seven that is extremely powerful. You get to understand Danny a little bit more in terms of why he left originally. So, I’m excited and nervous for people to see that play out.
If you could create your own tagline for either the show or your character, what would you pick and why?
I mean, it’s kind of morbid, but it’s the first thing that came to mind, so I should just say it: evolve or die. I think it’s kind of appropriate for the town, but it’s also appropriate for Danny, very much. He needs to deal with his stuff, and I don’t mean that if he doesn’t, he will die, but you know it’s pretty tough stuff.
Then you recently participated in SeriesFest: Season 7, which is a virtual TV convention. What was that experience like?
So much fun. I think that might be my first time doing SeriesFest, but everyone was great. I love getting to do a panel with our cast, because people get to see the dynamics that we have with each other and it’s a really special dynamic. I think on screen you get to see the chemistry that the cast has with each other and sometimes when you watch shows you wonder whether that is real or fake, and when you get to see us all together hanging out, you’re like, “Oh wow, they’re just the real deal like in terms of getting along, clicking, and having fun.” Yeah, I love our cast.
How excited are you to get to attend in person conventions again now that they’re slowly coming back?
That would be wonderful because it’s been a hot second. I can’t even remember the last convention I went to, but conventions are great fun, filled with great people, and it’s just a lot of love and good energy. So yeah, I would be very excited to get back in there.
Is there any sort of message or takeaway that you’re hoping fans get from watching the show?
Don’t start your own country on a whim, it’s a lot harder than you think. No — I don’t know, maybe it’s about your chosen family, choosing the people you want in your life and being careful of who you choose. Yeah, just making sure you have the right people in your life to support, help you through, or help you to unlock the next step of evolution for you.
What would be a dream storyline for Danny in season 2, if you could create it?
Oh, man. Well, I’ve talked to Jeff King about season two, and he’s already pitched some ideas that I’ve kind of fallen in love with, so it’s hard for me to think outside of that right now. But, without spoiling too much it, basically it would be a storyline that is very close to my heart and revolves around men talking and opening up to each other; not just in general, not just to a therapist, which would be big, but guys chatting and talking through their shit, because that’s something that doesn’t happen enough. I don’t think it happens enough on screen. So, I think I’d be really enthusiastic to bring that story to the screen.
You have played some great roles, which has been the most challenging for you and why?
This is up there in terms of trying to portray PTSD as truthfully as possible without actually suffering it myself. It’s a very challenging subject matter and understanding triggers in the way that trauma can be stored, physically in the body, and just completely override the conscious mind. So, this role is definitely up there. The other one that that comes to mind would be playing Roman in Blindspot. I mean he’s so different to me as a person, which is what made in so much fun, you know, essentially, playing a mass murdering homegrown terrorist with a heart of gold. The content that Martin Gero threw at me during Blindspot was extremely challenging constantly. I think there was a scene where I had to play against myself because my character was hallucinating. I hallucinated a version of myself that was South African, whilst also pretending to be an Australian character who I killed, and then switching to my standard American. So, I was using three different accents in the one scene, and having to remember the blocking of each character because sometimes we do takes where it was just me, sometimes we do takes with me and a stand in just saying the lines opposite me. Doesn’t get much harder than that.
Portraying those serious topics in entertainment is so crucial and important. So, I imagine the fan response to the show as a whole has been amazing, but have you gotten any comments about your character’s storyline, because I know there’s so many people that probably relate to that material?
Yeah, I have had some really lovely comments actually, just people who are drawn into the storyline and can appreciate the storyline, but it’s a bittersweet thing to watch because it’s hard for them, but they feel for my character. So yeah, it has been lovely and there have been some very thoughtful responses.
Lastly, I’m going to ask you if you have any dream roles or projects on your bucket list that you hope to do in the future?
Look, I just feel really grateful to be working and I don’t know that I have any grand plans. I mean, I suppose it would be amazing to get to play a superhero on the big screen or something like that would be bucket list sort of stuff, I guess. But ultimately, you just never know and I’m grateful to be working and to be working with passionate, creative people. Yeah, I’m very lucky to be where I am.