Mitchell Kummen – Legends of Tomorrow
By: Ruth Hill
A couple of years ago, I noticed a young man on one of my favorite shows, “When Calls the Heart,” and I was quite impressed with his portrayal of one of the schoolchildren of Hope Valley, Gabe. As I watched his career progress, I became intrigued with this immensely talented but highly personal actor, Mitchell Kummen. In anticipation of his role on “Legends of Tomorrow,” Mitchell graciously took a few moments to chat with me about that guest spot as well as a few other items of interest.
Q) What inspired you to become an actor?
A) Actually, that’s a funny story. When I was a kid, I watched every single Jackie Chan movie. So one day, when I was 8, I went into the kitchen where my mother was peeling potatoes for dinner. I went up to her and said, “Hey, I want to meet Jackie Chan. How do I do that?” And she said facetiously, while still peeling potatoes, “I don’t know. Become an actor.” It just so happened there was an open casting call for a TV show in Winnipeg, where I was born, and I went there, and they got really excited over me and gave me the part! And then the rest is history.
Q) How did you get involved with “Legends of Tomorrow”?
A) Well, they were auditioning for the role, and they just couldn’t seem to find anyone. So I auditioned. Then they told me to come in for a wardrobe fitting, so I did, and the very next day, they told me to come on set. And that’s pretty much the whole process. They couldn’t find anyone. So I auditioned, and they liked me, I guess, and they booked me. I had to postpone my holiday, but I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a postponed holiday than on set.
Q) What do you want viewers to know about your character?
A) This is where he (Mick Rory) first becomes interested in fire to a point that it is dangerous to people around him. And I think this is where you finally get to understand what actually made Heatwave who he is in the show. You get to see my character first start playing with fire and start scarring himself. I feel like this is where you get to learn something about Heatwave’s story. And you also get to learn that Heatwave is “frickin’ awesome!”
Q) Is this the only time we will see your character?
A) That I know of, yes, this will be the only time you see him.
Q) Are there any filming stories you can share from the set?
A) When you’re on set for that short amount of time, there are a lot of stories that happen to the main cast that they told me, but there is only one story that stands out to me. The director, (bless her heart) Rachel (Talalay), came up to me and said, “You need to be more unlikable, which is difficult for you.” I thanked her for the compliment, and I think I gave her what she wanted.
Q) What is the atmosphere like on set?
A) They were phenomenal. The thing I liked about them is that they made me feel like I was one of them. You know, I didn’t feel like I was a one episode, younger version, but I felt like I was part of the main cast and that I had been there through the entire season even though I hadn’t. And they were all so nice and very helpful.
Q) What was it like working with Dominic Purcell?
A) He was great, and the thing I liked about him is he thought about everyone else before he thought of himself. When his brother came to set, instead of having alone time with his brother and talking to him, he got his brother involved in social activities. He said, “Hey, everybody, this is my brother.” He talked about his brother and introduced his brother to us, and he still was sociable and able to do the work while his brother was with everyone else. Most people, when they bring their siblings or guests, they sit in the trailer and just talk to them, which is fine. People are allowed to have their alone time, I think. But I like how he made his brother feel like he was a part of the gang, too, right off the bat.
Q) Many of my readers remember you from “When Calls the Heart.” What can you tell us about your experience with that show?
A) I was on the first season of the show, and I played the character, Gabe. And I was also in the first episode for a little bit of season 2. The thing with me is that I’m a very vintage guy. You know, I like people like Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan–I listen to their music. Doing a period piece–I always said if I had a time period to be born it would be around 1910, or the 1960’s–somewhere around there–so doing a period piece for me was really humbling because I got to see what it was like living in that world. I won’t get to experience the past. I’ll get to experience the future. Doing a period piece for me was really, really interesting. And working with people like Michael Landon, Jr., Brian Bird, Daniel Lissing, and all those guys was awesome. They were very welcoming, very helpful, and were always giving advice and stuff like that, and they made the experience so much better.
Q) Do you have any other upcoming works you can mention?
A) My episode of “Motive” will be coming up soon–May 3rd.
Q) I read that you are very passionate about anti-bullying. Why is this such a hot topic for you? What is it that has made it something that is so close to your heart?
A) Not just anti-bullying, but also mental health and mental illnesses in general. I’ve had a lot of friends who suffered from mental illness. I’ve also lost a couple friends to mental illness like depression. So doing stuff like “Light Up Purple” with Carol Todd, who lost her daughter, Amanda Todd, to suicide, I feel really passionate about helping. It’s not about all these charities that try and donate money for a cure. The thing with depression is there isn’t really a cure. The only cure is having a support system, which is what people are lacking these days. You tell people you have depression, and they say, “That’s something you’re not supposed to tell people.” So what I’m hoping to do is get the word out there that yes, this is a serious problem. And if someone comes to you and tells you they need help, you need to listen. Because it’s not about how everyone says, “Oh we need to talk about it.” Talking about it isn’t the issue. People say they have suicidal thoughts or say they’re depressed. The problem is listening. We just blow it off and we become bystanders. And if you’re not a part of the problem, you’re not a part of the solution either. Even if someone says I have depression and you ignore it, you’re also being a part of the problem. It’s the listening factor–I’m trying to get people to listen.
Q) In this business, many young people lose their focus and get involved with things they shouldn’t. How do you keep yourself grounded?
A) It’s the entire team—Holly (Mitchell’s publicist), my parents, my friends, my agent, my manager–I could not have asked for a better support system. In fact, if I had any other support system, I’d probably be doing all those things I shouldn’t be doing. You know, my parents are so humble. Holly’s been great. Everyone around me has been so supportive. And they’ve said they’d help me through everything. I feel like in order to live a successful, healthy life, you need a support system. It doesn’t matter if you’re an actor, singer, if you work in a cubicle, it doesn’t matter where you work or what you do in life. You need that support system.
After this brilliant chat with this phenomenal young man, I was even more dazzled than I had been previously. As he spoke about his sincere devotion to mental health issues, his pragmatic approach to life, and his wonderful experiences on set, I couldn’t get over how well-spoken and easily relatable he was. I most definitely agree with his “Legends of Tomorrow” director when she said that it is difficult for him to be unlikable because after all, who couldn’t absolutely adore Mitchell? It is young men like him who make me realize that our future is in safe and capable hands, and I greatly anticipate seeing what the future holds for this delightful young thespian. Don’t forget to check out all the links below to make sure you don’t miss a moment of the career of this swiftly rising star!
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