After last week’s episode of The Neighbors, “50 Shades of Green,” it’s safe to assume that fans are now wondering what’s going to happen to Reggie Jackson now that he’s inadvertently consummated his love for Amber (Clara Mamet). Tim Jo, who plays Reggie, was able to talk with TV Equals about his role on the show and what fans can expect going forward with his character and his relationship with Amber. The Neighbors airs Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.
What is it like to play an alien?
Tim Jo: It’s interesting. You could easily exchange the word ‘alien’ for ‘what’s it like to be a teenager in high school,’ or ‘what’s it like to be an Asian-American in a small Texas town.’ It’s funny that out of all the characters I’ve played, this is the one I feel the most connection to.
Why is that, do you think?
Tim Jo: I’ve always been a fish out of water, I guess. I’ve always been the new kid in town, or the one that stuck out. I was born and raised in Mesquite, Texas. I was one of very few Asians in my little town, and my best friends …and it’s funny that the Weavers are exactly like [Jo's best friends]. They’re the first ones that taught me how to eat macaroni and cheese while we taught them how to eat rice and kimchee. So that was the first 12 years of my life, us exchanging cultures, learning things, what to do, what not to do, things like that.
What do you think about the fact that the majority of the aliens are played by minority characters?
Tim Jo: It’s actually–we addressed this issue in the episode we just shot last week. It was briefly mentioned in the pilot that all we are trying to do is fit in. We can look like the Children of the Corn, or we can observe and see that this country is made up of all sorts of shapes and sizes and colors and the best way to fit in is to represent all of that physically, so no one will say ‘Hey, these people are a little strange.’ But maybe we went overboard with that–the Zabvronians sometimes get it a little wrong, and that might be what we did (laughs).
What’s it like to work with the cast?
For a lot of us, this is our first time at bat. It feels like we’ve gone from…the pee wee league to the major league. Other than Jamie Gertz, this is our first successful show, I suppose. We’ve all been there and back…but this is one in which we got a full season and we get to play, and I’ll say the sense of excitement and nerves and fearlessness that happens when you get a group of people like this, it just makes the comedy that much more exciting and fun to do. And then when you have people like Jamie Gertz, who’s so seasoned, but there’s hardly anyone else who could be as gracious and patient and as kind as her.
And that’s the coolest thing, when you find people who have been working in this business that have been working for a long time that still seem like they have the excitement and passion for the job just like you. We’re surrounded by such great [talent]. Even the people that started out in the background, they’re getting lines here and there, getting featured, and they’re so hilarious. I can’t wait for everyone to see our neighbors in our neighborhood.
During the last episode, your character’s relationship with Amber has taken an abrupt turn, so to speak. What’s going to happen with you and Amber coming up?
Tim Jo: (laughs) You know, I guess, the way I see it…I get these scripts, and so many times, I’ll be laughing. Sometimes, I’ll even get teared up, but Amber and Reggie–they’re such a beautiful couple (laughs) and even when I read it objectively, I go, ‘Oh man,’ and sometimes my heart feels like it’s getting pulled out…You know, Amber and Reggie are two extremely different people who have both been forced into a situation where they’re both outcasts. And both of us want to fit in, and that, at the core, is what we have similar to one another, you know what I mean?
Tim Jo: Otherwise, we couldn’t be more different as people. But the fact that we are both seeking comfort and acceptance by somebody, something else, that’s what me and Amber have in common. So some more great stuff unfolds for the two of them.
This coming episode is about Thanksgiving. What can you tell me about this upcoming episode?
Tim Jo: Well, my mother, who is Jackie Joyner-Kersee [Toks Olagundoye], she gets sad this time every year, mainly because she misses her family as well, and Debbie Weaver says, ‘We have a celebration. We celebrate a time every year when we get to be with our family. Why don’t you come?’ and then it’s revealed that my mother’s sisters are actually in the neighborhood. But they’ve been exiled. They’re locked away at the end of the street by Greg Louganis [Billy Malone] and Brian Boitano, who are manning the security gates…So to make our mom happy, we go and bring her sisters to Thanksgiving. Of course, the sisters are ridiculous and hilarious. They’re played by Carla Renata and [Leslie Jordan]. These are Jackie’s sisters, but one of them is a he (laughs).
If you could guest star on any other television show, which one would it be?
Tim Jo: …Just off the top of my head, I know Joss Whedon–now that I’m part of the Disney family, and Disney also has Marvel as part of their family, how awesome would it be to be a part of their S.H.I.E.L.D. show that they’re going to start making? That would be ridiculous. That would be a dream come true, wouldn’t it?
Yeah, that’d be awesome!
Tim Jo: And I’d love to do a voice on a cartoon. Then, I wouldn’t be picky. I’d just do anything. (laughs)