Interview: Malcolm Barrett on ‘Timeless’, His Character and Fan Reaction

Timeless actor Malcolm Barrett was at WonderCon to talk about the new season of the popular NBC show. In the interview, he talks about the growth his character, Rufus, makes this year, improvising dialogue and the fan reaction to the show.

I really like Rufus’s initiative this season. Can you tell us more about Rufus’s character this season?

Malcolm Barrett: Yes, Rufus has grown a little bit, he definitely is that same guy, still an introvert, doesn’t particularly want to go to the past but he knows he has to, so he’s complaining a little bit less about it.

Rufus has changed a lot because I think he’s, you know, he’s still an introvert but he’s still forced to go out there and be something. He’s definitely calling Wyatt on his crap, he’s definitely fighting a little bit more than he used to and really growing. And him and Gia, I think that also is helping to make him grow.

Have you ever improvised the names, the fake names, or is it all written.

Malcolm Barrett: They’re all written. I very rarely improvise the fake names, I usually have something.

I usually just improvise random sort of rifts and callbacks. I’m usually the fan service ad-lib’s. Like the clock locker stuff and like I did something at the end of the Wendell Scott episode where I go, “I don’t know”. So, I do random ad-lib’s like that, which are used a lot more this second season. Rufus and me are the same sense of humor so you’ll see that a lot more this season.

What do you find more satisfying, saving the day from a technical standpoint or from the action standpoint?

Malcolm Barrett: Both man. I really love exploring a hero whose biggest superpower is his genius. But at the same time, I love it when he’s scrapping and surprises himself being able to be physical with these guys and how it doesn’t come easy to him. It doesn’t come easy to him to fight, it doesn’t come easy to him to kill a man, but he knows what has to be done.

When Kripke talks about, what makes a really interesting character is not someone who’s not just willing to fight, but someone who doesn’t want to fight and is forced to do so anyway.

How do you like filming in LA?

Malcolm Barrett: So much better than Vancouver. I like heat, and I enjoy going home.

Were you surprised by the intense fan reaction to get the show back?

Malcolm Barrett: Yes, by a lot. I’ve never had a fan reaction or an interplay like that. The closest … I was on Better Off Ted, and that was 2 seasons, and so I had sort of cult following there, but this definitely took it to a whole new level, because this was huge families, kids, mom’s.

I can tell my demographic, white dudes knew me from Sunny in Philadelphia, black people knew me, because I’m black. But then this was the first time where it would be like some young 17 year old white kid, they be like, “Are you Malcolm Barrett?” I was like yeah, they were like, “My mom loves you.” And so that’s definitely a completely different world that I’m happy to be a part of.

Timeless airs on Sundays at 10pm on NBC

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