Earlier this year it was announced that Shadowhunters alum Jon Cor would join the CW’s superhero series “The Flash” in a recurring guest star role for season 7 as scientist Mark Stevens, a.k.a. DC Comics villain Chillblaine.
According to the official character description, “Mark Stevens is a charismatic bad boy obsessed with cryogenic technology. But when he’s not breaking into corporate safes, he’s busy breaking hearts with his irresistible charm and roguish style. Armed with his own cold weapons, he’ll become a new thorn in the side of Team Flash as the DC Comics villain Chillblaine.”
Cor is best known for playing Hodge Starkweather for two seasons of Freeform’s supernatural teen drama Shadowhunters. His other TV credits include Supernatural, Lost in Space, Life With Derek, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Suits, Being Erica, and Being Human, among others. He’s also appeared in several theatrical and made-for-TV movies.
We had the opportunity to chat with Jon about all things Chillblaine, preparing for his role, and what fans can expect this season.
Kat: You play supervillain cryogeneticist Mark Stevens, aka Chillblaine, in The CW’s The Flash. What kind of research did you do for the role?
Jon: Oh, man. [laughs] I grew up watching the original TV series starring John Wesley Shipp, and reading all kinds of DC and Marvel comics. [points at the Batman pajama pants he’s wearing] As such, I already had a pretty good idea of what I was being trusted with, but, y’know. This is a dream role! I watched each and every episode of the current show, collected and studied as much Chillblaine-related source material as possible, haunted message boards and forums and comments sections… I did anything and everything that I could think of, really, as a means to inform my performance—even though I was told that our Chillblaine would be enormously our own. If I got a script? I had my lines memorized and started to play with them in moments. I’m at my best when I’m compelled by the material itself, rather than my bills, or any other extraneous motivator.
Kat: In the comics, there were a series of guys who had the role of Chillblaine, each with their own powers and unique identity. How much freedom did you have to play with the character? Was there anything specifically that you had to say or do, or anything that you couldn’t do?
Jon: Multiverse, baby! [laughs and then quotes the Assassin’s Creed franchise] “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” I’m blown away by the level of freedom and respect that I’ve been given. Not only are our directors just, like, the coolest and most wonderful people, but in particular, executive producer, writer, and showrunner, Eric Wallace, is an absolute dream to work for and with. We engage in frequent creative discussion, and he encourages and allows me to put my own stamp on the character. i.e. Hanging behind the bar to drink that beer while Frost defends herself in 7×07? Ad-lib. Chillblaine knows that Frost can handle herself, he wants to see and to study her further in action, annnd he finds her particular brand of strength and independence attractive whether he knows it yet or not. They let me call her Snowflake instead of Frosty, which I felt was necessarily personal, the sort of thing that might be embarrassing in public yet meaningful and sweet in private.
The way Chillblaine moves? He tricks, because I’m studying it. It’s not the other way around. He also needs to be, like, a total specimen, to be able to contend with the likes of a meta, right? And who doesn’t enjoy at least a liiittle Johnny Cage-esque douchebaggery? [grins] Chillblaine’s most often portrayed as an over-muscled goon in the graphic novels, but there’s one incarnation in which he’s actually Jonathan Fox, The Flash from the future! Suffice to say, it’s been a collaborative and fulfilling experience, and I look forward to seeing where it all goes.
Kat: You’ve actively been tumbling, tricking, and doing martial arts and gymnastics for years. What kind of physical training was required for your role, and will we be seeing any cool fight scenes?
Jon: Oh, yes! Where there’s Chillblaine, there’s trouble. I think of him as a ninja-pirate. He’s a sophisticated thinker and a highly-disciplined martial artist, but he’s also got this boozy, broody, mercenary-gambler thing going on that I only clocked after working on the first episode. He’s fun, and funny. Unpredictable and multifaceted. At the end of the day, I’m an employee, and I’m not in charge the writing, directing, editing, choreography, and all kinds of stuff like that, of course; but the stunt team, who are just, like, some of the best in the business, have been using me and my skill sets more and more, for which I am eternally grateful, and from which I am learning a lot. Fast.
That said, I intensified and ramped my training up to a full-time obligation as soon as I booked the part. Tricking. Weightlifting. Calisthenics. Yoga. Tae Kwon Do. Boxing and Muay Thai. Dehydrating a little with friend and personal trainer Nuno Desalles. Weapons study. You name it! Taking care of myself to this extent for such a significant period of time has been really, really good for my spondylolisthesis, and it’s a character acting-y challenge I couldn’t be happier to take on. My friends and I will often choreograph and execute our own fights as an exercise late at night, and a lot of us are dipping into wirework and breakfalls and that sort of thing, too.
Kat: Can you share any insight on what fans might be able to expect from Chillblaine’s presence this season?
Jon: Hm… I hope that the audience will love to hate him, and sort of hate to love him. I’m not sure that this answers yours question, but, y’know. Words. [laughs]
Kat: How (if any) has portraying Chillblaine been different from past roles, and did you learn anything either about the character or yourself while tackling him?
Jon: Well, I admit, I feel that I’m a part of something special, and I feel as though I’m actually starting to develop a career. Does that make sense? I mean this with wholehearted humility and optimism. I was born to a sixteen-year-old-mother and an absent, alcoholic father. Not a lot of money. Not a lot of opportunity. I have this saying, that knowing and knowing are two different things. [points at his head, and then at his body] My head knew that I could work in film & TV if I wanted to and put the work in. You have to earn your level ups. You have to learn to self-parent, and to identify and adjust your own bullsh*t. You have to grind, and grind, and grind. My body, however, often wrestled with things like doubt, fear, depression, a general aversion to celebrity-worship and financially-controlled gatekeeping, etc. Now? What once was choice or bravery, is turning into “effortless” confidence.
Kat: Did you find any similarities between yourself and your character, were there any that surprised you?
Jon: Some rather deep-seated abandonment issues, perhaps? [laughs] Like Chillblaine, I remember falling through a frozen lake in the woods surrounding Porcupine, Ontario, when I was a child. I had mistaken a dog’s footprints for a moose’s, thus misjudging the thickness of the ice. I spun around as the ice broke, and somehow my grandfather, Stan Cor, who was not even close to right next to me when I saw him last, suddenly appeared just in time to catch my wrist as I fully submerged. It still feels like a bit of an inexplicable miracle. My life, or lack thereof, would be a lot different had I been swept under. We walked back home shivering, and laughing. We made hot chocolate, and finished a crossword together.
My grandfather is an extraordinary individual, and one of my heroes. He taught me that strength is gentle, and that the ideal of the Renaissance Man is very much alive and well.
Kat: What were your favorite scenes to shoot, and why?
Jon: Honestly? All of them. I couldn’t take this job for granted if I tried. I’m deeply grateful to get to play in this world, and I find all of the physical training that I get to force myself to do, the bonds I’m forming as an active participant on set and in my local community, and the self-discovery and growth that I’m experiencing along the way not only as an actor, but as a person, is a total Godspeed. …Godsend, I mean! [winks]
Connect with Jon Cor on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jon_cor