John Harlan Kim Talks Returning to ‘The Librarians’ and Honing His Skills
John Harlan Kim still feels like a newcomer to the industry even as “The Librarians” returns to TNT for its fourth season. Kim plays Ezekiel Jones, one of the members of an underground group working beneath the Metropolitan Public Library to protect the world from a hidden magical world. An adventurous celebration of history, libraries and nerdiness, the show has gained a following through its cryptically fun storylines reminiscent of “Indiana Jones,” “Tomb Raider” or “The Da Vinci Code.”
In the new season, the librarians, led by Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle), face off with a new villain, Monsignor Vega (John Noble). Vega is a Vatican bishop leading a dark group called the Heretical Order of the Shadows. Their aim is to destroy the Library and cast the world back into the Dark Ages. It’s the latest apocalyptic threat the librarians have to stop and Kim sat down with us to discuss jumping back into the show full throttle.
“I felt like after three seasons we’re all so in tune with our characters we definitely hit our stride,” said Kim. “That was the cool thing about it, not having to worry so much about building the characters from the ground up. Now we get to see them in these whacky and incredibly wild situations.” Kim described himself as “relatively new to the industry” and feels fortunate to have been able to develop a character for multiple seasons this early in his career. It is a chance few newcomers get. “I’m super excited.”
“The Librarians” has given Kim the opportunity to give multiple genres a shot, considering the show’s diverse storylines involving everything from ghosts to Ancient Rome to the Vatican. “I think we’re usually working in three or four different genres,” he said, “the first three years you could point to an episode and say ‘oh that’s more of a horror episode, that one’s more slapstick, that one’s more romantic.’ That was the feeling I had going into the series, that I wasn’t going to be confined to one genre…you never know what you’re gonna get.”
But while mixing genres, “The Librarians” is driven by its action. “Saving the world requires a lot of running,” laughed Kim, “we’re running from Minotaurs or whatever it may be that particular week. I wouldn’t say I’m going to start taking up marathons anytime soon but you definitely need to be at a good level of fitness to meet the demands of not just our action scenes, but the nature of our shooting.” 15-hour shoot days keep Kim on his toes. “The energy is always up.”
For fans of the show Kim recommends they pay particular attention to the Christmas-themed episode, where Ezekiel meets his family. The episode is notable because it just so happened to be directed by Noah Wyle. “I did everything I could to prepare. It was interesting when your director is also your leading co-star.” Kim truly looks up to Wyle, who is a TV veteran most famous for his role as Dr. John Carter in the 1990s smash hit “ER.” “I make it no secret that I absolutely admire that man, he’s one of my heroes. It’s almost a seamless transition to see him take off his actor’s hat and put on a director’s hat and then put on an executive producer’s hat. With Noah he is good at everything.”
One of the fun aspects of “The Librarians” is how it mixes trivia with its fantastical plotlines. The first episode of the new season kicks off with anecdotes about strange rituals, ancient libraries and Roman history. “It’s incredible the depths the writers go to to get facts and present them in an interesting way…I do certainly read more since being on this show.” It also contributes to one’s social life. “I can pull out random facts when I’m hanging out with my friends. They understand there is absolutely no way I would know any of these things if I wasn’t on a show like ‘The Librarians.’”
A native of Australia, Kim feels grateful for getting his big break with a show that’s garnered a fan base. An outing to a Lakers’ game turned into a small selfie fest when fans recognized him. Hoping to expand into action movies, Kim has also been working on developing his own skills as a screenwriter, taking in lessons from the work he sees done for “The Librarians.” “I feel grateful to be in a situation where I can call a Noah for any kind of advice,” said Kim.
Of course for every success story like Kim, there are a hundred more out there waiting for their big break. Kim’s advice for them is clear and simple. “It’s so cliché but ultimately at the end of the day you just got to work hard. I’m not talking about sitting there and waiting for the opportunity. Act in any capacity you can, whether a short film or play, or even something you take on yourself. Technology is so accessible. Act as much as you can.”
To relax from it all there’s no place like home, and for Kim that’s the land down under. “Coming back to the surroundings where I grew up in, and realizing I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself,” he said. “I definitely have the kind of friends who keep my grounded.”
“The Librarians” Season 4 premieres Dec. 13 with two episodes at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET and airs Wednesdays on TNT.