‘Timeless’ exclusive: Malcolm Barrett talks finale, Rufus’ journey, and possible season 2

Rufus -Tonight on NBC (or Global for those in Canada), the season 1 finale of “Timeless” is here, and with that, the potential for drama is high. The Time Team’s going back to the 1950’s to see a meeting of many Rittenhouse leaders, and there could be twists and turns aplenty in the final minutes. This is the culmination of the journey to date, but there may still be something that remains for a potential second season. We’ll get a chance to find out in a matter of hours!

To preview the finale and discuss the season in general, we turned to Malcolm Barrett, who’s done a fantastic job playing a guy in Rufus who’s been inspirational, funny, and currently in a ton of danger. We cover a lot of ground in this interview, and it also presents a nice full-circle feeling given that we last spoke with Barrett prior to the series premiere.

CarterMatt – What was the mood and the experience like while you were there filming the finale? Was it a sense of excitement making it through this journey, even though there is still that cloud of ambiguity given that you don’t know if you’re coming back?

Malcolm Barrett – It’s a crazy little ride. We’re really excited — the fan base is very rabid, which for sci-fi shows they usually are. We’re sort of waiting in the midst to figure out what’s going on.

I had one of my last days with Claudia Doumit, who plays my love interest [Jiya]. That was kind of an emotional day, not just because of [wrapping it up], but also because of what was happening in the scene. It was a very bittersweet day.

You were on ‘Better Off Ted,’ which was one of my favorite comedies [but also a bubble show]. Did that experience help you to prepare for being on the bubble now, or does being in this situation just come with the territory?

Yeah, it kinda just comes with the territory. I’ve never been on hugely popular shows, I’ve always been on ones that, when they were clicking, had really dedicated fanbases. It’s not that weird to me.

I’ll tell you this: On one of my very first shows, and I was expecting this show to be canceled, they gave me a call over a weekend and said ‘hey, we’re replacing one of the actors on the show.’ I paused for a moment and said ‘okay … do I still have job?’ — they said ‘yeah’ and I said ‘okay, let’s move on’ (laughs). I was always ready for that [moment] to happen, so to actually be on shows where people are big fans of them is still [great] to me.

Rufus was shot at the end of this past episode. How worried should we be entering the finale?

I think you should be very scared for Rufus, but he is one of our heroes, so he’ll hopefully be able to come back. You’ll start to see the ramifications of that last episode, and as a result of that, [movement in his] relationship with Jiya and how that relationship changes. The show does a nice job of wrapping up his arc for the season.

He’s evolved a lot since earlier this season, where he was this guy who, while very skilled, was still very much not the best in the field. Now, you look at everything that he’s done. How much fun has it been for you to play that evolution?

It’s been an amazing evolution. To go from the kid-in-the-corner genius to fighting — he shot a man, he beat a slave master up, he’s ridden a horse, he’s gotten the girl, he’s traveled back and forth in time, he fought the British, he fought the Germans! (Laughs.) To go from a guy who didn’t want to leave the desk to a guy who, every couple of episodes, saves the day has been awesome.

What was interesting about visiting the 1950’s and the era of Joe McCarthy for the finale? It was certainly this really weird time when there was so much paranoia and fear, and not to dive too much into the political rabbit hole, you can probably see some parallels to today.

It’s interesting that the last episode is running into McCarthy, and I think there are very clear parallels between the witch-hunt that McCarthy was on and the Muslim ban and the borders and all of these things that are changing between this past administration and now. It’s very much in people’s minds how far government is going to go to chase after people who are different than them.

Is there a good culmination of the story between Flynn and Rittenhouse with the big meeting that’s coming up?

Yeah, I think it’ll definitely pay off. I think this show does a good job of picking up its loose ends. Like you said, the big meeting is going to happen and there are a lot of revelations that are going to come in terms of who’s at that meeting and how it’s connected to Rittenhouse and how Lucy’s connected and what Flynn’s final endgame may be. I think all of that will be touched on and resolved.

You mentioned Claudia and the Jiya character a little bit earlier. Is there going to be a nice moment or two where we feel confident that they’ll be together and happy in the future?

The writers surprise me all of the time with where they go, but honestly seeing this relationship build has been an awesome thing. I think a lot of people expected the ‘will they or won’t they?’ with Lucy and Wyatt, but to have this other thing, this other love and relationship under that same umbrella, happen was a really cool thing. I didn’t expect it to last as long as it’s lasted or to go as it has, but to have my girlfriend be a potential replacement for me, as there’s a number on my head and I could be killed, is a wonderful thing to play. Claudia stepped up to the bat immensely. I have great respect for her and her ability to stand out on-camera.

Have Shawn [Ryan] and Eric [Kripke] suggested anything to you about what a season 2 could be?

I think there are a couple of things being explored. What’s great is that at the start of the series they gave you the premise, and then in the second half of this season they’ve done a lot of things to subvert that premise. You’ve seen what happens to the Lifeboat in the past, you’ve seen what happens if something happens to a [character], you’re seeing hostility and team members being replaced and jailed and not everyone going on adventures. Just seeing that happen between the first half of the season and the second, I can’t wait to see what they could do with a second season.

I know that one of the questions that you were probably asked a million or so times during interviews this season was ‘where would you go if you can time travel?’ — I want to try and ask that in a different way. Has your perception to that question, and your answer to it, changed now as opposed to where it was at the start of the series?

It’s interesting. My initial answer was kind of the same as Rufus’ was, which was ‘hell no, I don’t wanna go back in time — I wouldn’t want to go back any further than maybe Michael Jackson albums.’ Now, it’s easier to look at a bunch of different time periods. I’d love to explore Alexandre Dumas, and I loved going to Paris and seeing Josephine Baker and Ernest Hemingway. I just thought that was an amazing time. When I think going back in time, I always think of like great art — so I always want to go back and see great music, to see great bands when they’re first coming out and how crazy they were. Seeing the Harlem Renaissance, seeing artists like Andy Warhol. I want to do something like that.

Malcolm was FANTASTIC during this interview, and it was great to get his take on what’s been a really fun experience this year, both in terms of watching the show and also covering it.

Before tonight’s finale, we also suggest that you head over here if you want to read some of our suggestions for the best way to boost the ratings and get the word out! We will have a full review for the finale up after it airs, and also more discussion on a possible second season. (Photo: NBC.)




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