Rick Bentley

Hollywood Notebook: Harry Shum Jr. finds magic in ‘Shadowhunters’

Freeform’s “Shadowhunters” stars Harry Shum Jr. as Magnus Bane.
Freeform’s “Shadowhunters” stars Harry Shum Jr. as Magnus Bane. Freeform

The demands of playing the mystical Magnus Bane on the Freeform series “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instrument” are far less for Harry Shum Jr. than his days on “Glee.” Instead of having to worry about all of the singing and dancing that went along with playing high school student Mike Chang, now he just deals with the special effects needed for him to play the High Warlock of Brooklyn.

The long work schedules of “Glee” didn’t bother Shum too much because of his dance background.

“I saw a lot of my co-stars go into the show thinking it was a crazy work schedule. I had done it before as a dancer because they are always worked to the bone and are considered only one step above an extra,” Shum says.

Unlike “Glee,” Shum had some background to help him put together how he was going to play the character in “Shadowhunters.” The series is based on a series of books by Cassandra Clare. Before starting work on the series, Shum read other parts of the book series.

He wasn’t worried that the books would affect his performance.

“When you read a book you can only retain so much,” Shum says. “For me, reading the books as preparation, was just a way of really getting an understanding of who this guy was. For me it was pulling in the essence of the character.

“From there, then you go into what is written in the script.”

His character of Magnus Band is an 800-year-old warlock who doesn’t look his age. He becomes an ally to the Shadowhunters and the central heroine, Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara).

At times, Shum plays the character as a man who has seen centuries of life. At other times, he portrays him as much younger than he really is.

“There is a time and place for both. He’s a very wise character. He’s met individuals that we have only read about in history books. At the same time, I think there is a sense of boredom that comes with everyday life,” Shum says. “For him it is a matter of trying to manipulate the situations to give him some kind of refreshing outlook on life.

“We look at being immortal as something that everyone wants. But, there is a burden to that. You live as long as this guy has, you become a little cynical.”

Movement is very important to Shum as he was a dancer long before becoming an actor. By the time he was showing off his dance skills on “Glee,” Shum had been a dancer with Béyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson and Mariah Carey.

Shum uses his background in dance to give the way his character moves a real purpose. He says he wants every step that Magnus takes to be like he’s walking on a red carpet and there’s a purpose to why he’s moving.

You can see how his choices have worked out as “Shadowhunters” airs 9 p.m. Tuesdays on Freeform (the cable channel previously known as ABC Family).

Silicon Valley Comic Con gaining steam

The new Silicon Valley Comic Con, Steve Wozniak’s pop culture and technology expo, looks to be an event that will at least equal Wonder Con.

It was just announced that the cast of “Back to the Future” – Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly), Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) and Lea Thompson (Lorraine Baines) – will reunite for the event.

They will join William Shatner, who will also be a special guest at the convention.

If you want to see them, the Silicon Valley Comic Con will be held the weekend of March 18-20 at the San Jose Convention Center.

DC Comics heroes Flash, Supergirl unite

The Flash is headed to National City. Grant Gustin, in his role of Barry Allen/The Flash on the CW Network, will cross over to “Supergirl” in an episode to be broadcast at 8 p.m. March 28 on CBS.

Both comic book-inspired shows air on different networks but they are part of the DC Comics universe and produced by Warner Bros. Television.

Details of the episode will be announced at a later date.

Tom Ellis relishes role on ‘Lucifer’

Tom Ellis is enjoying the devilish role he’s getting to play on the new FOX series “Lucifer.” It seems that the devil has gotten tired of ruling the underworld and decides to take a break.

In keeping with the hottest trend in TV these days, the series is based on a comic book – in this case, one created by Neil Gaiman of the same name.

Ellis didn’t feel any need to do some sinful research to play the role. He found everything he needed in the script.

“This was a script that when I picked it up, I was like, ‘This is what I want to do.’ This is really fun. And it didn’t bother me that it was about the devil. In fact, it didn’t land on me what that meant in terms of taking on as a role,” Ellis says. “I didn’t see it like that. I just saw it as a really fun character and a fun script that had loads of potential to carry on, basically.

“And true personal experiences of doing shows that have worked and haven’t worked and stuff, you sort of hone in your senses about what your choice has become, and this, for me, was just a very obvious choice. I really wanted to do it.”

Ellis, who was born in Bangor, Wales, has loads of experience with television shows including roles on “EastEnders,” “Doctor Who,” “Harley Street,” “Merlin” and “Rush.”

Coming up with the way to play Lucifer came down to one line in the script.

“Lucifer himself says, ‘Am I the devil because I’m intrinsically evil, or am I the devil because Dear Old Dad decided I was?’ and that’s kind of the crux of where we find him in the show,” Ellis says.

The actor did come to the role with some previous knowledge of the afterlife as his father, uncle and sister are all pastors. He grew up in a household where the message was peace and love and understanding for everyone.

His family was excited when they heard Ellis was the devil. One reason they are OK with his acting choice is that the series isn’t designed to be a theological debate.

“Everyone feels like they have a certain perception of the devil, and we’re using that character and using it to tell a new story, basically, in a fun way,” Ellis says. “If there’s anything at the heart of it at all, in any way a kind of message, it’s we should take a look at ourselves and responsibility for our own actions as opposed to trying to put it into some mythical ether and blaming it on someone else.”

In other words, Ellis isn’t going to ever say that the devil made him do this role.

“Lucifer” airs 9 p.m. Mondays on Fox.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

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