July 6, 2011

‘Torchwood’ returns to save the day

Posted in Between Us column, Diversity, Entertainment, Television at 7:33 pm by dinaheng

Captain Jack Harkness is one of the smartest, sexiest, and most charming heroes in television sci-fi. That’s because John Barrowman is one of the smartest, sexiest and most charming men… anywhere.

All right, I’ll stop drooling now.

“Torchwood: Miracle Day” premieres Friday, July 8 at 10 p.m. Eastern on Starz, continuing the adventures of the immortal Captain Jack, who once ran the Torchwood Institute, a secret British organization that investigated the strange and bizarre.

Now, when a new danger faces the planet, Captain Jack and his former colleague Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) team up with American C.I.A. agents Rex Matheson (Mekhl Phifer) and Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) to unravel the mystery behind a global phenomenon that threatens Mankind’s existence as we know it.

For suddenly, nobody dies. People continue to age, they can get injured and become sick, but they don’t die. Captain Jack, a time traveler from the 51st Century who knows the pros and cons of immortality all too well, finds himself in the middle of it all, trying to help others cope with what he’s lived with… well, forever.

“Some people will rise to the occasion and deal with it,” says Barrowman, sitting on the set in Burbank during a break in filming. “Others won’t. We have population issues, food issues. If you were decapitated, you’d still be in pain and alive, but couldn’t have your head reattached. It’s not a good thing to be immortal. There’s a lot of hurt and pain and sorrow that comes with it. Jack  knows this because he’s immortal.”

In the third season finale of “Torchwood: Children of Earth,” which ran on the BBC, Captain Jack sacrificed his grandchild to save the human race, and decided that Torchwood should stay underground because of all the destruction it’s caused. Barrowman says if Starz had not brought “Torchwood” to the United States for a 10-episode run, the show would likely have continued on the BBC as a five-episode mini-series.

“Loyal fans were afraid it’d change if it came to the States, but we’ve kept the heart and soul of the show,” Barrowman says. “He’s the same Captain Jack — he’ s dark with a lot of secrets, but he sticks to his guns and his word. He’ll do anything to save the planet and the human race, and if that means sacrificing something, he’ll do it.”

Captain Jack is also a bisexual action hero, something that Barrowman says will be  new to American audiences.

“In the UK, sexual orientation doesn’t matter on television,” says Barrowman, who is openly gay. “Characters are not looked at as being gay or straight. We have pre-watershed hours, before 9 p.m., where sex on screen is limited, but I love it that young men and women come up to me in the supermarket and say that Captain Jack is their hero.”

Barrowman, who holds dual U.S.-British citizenship, was born in Glasgow, Scotland and immigrated to the United States with his family at age 8, when his father was put in charge of the Caterpillar Tractor factory in Aurora, Ill. A love of music led to roles in musical productions on London’s West End and Broadway before he moved into television.

Also an accomplished recording artist, author, and TV host, Barrowman says he had the best of a European upbringing while learning the American work ethic of working hard and striving to achieve your dreams.

“My dad never handed things to us on a silver platter,” Barrowman says. “I was involved in sports, musicals, hung out with girlfriends who were cheerleaders, and was well traveled.

“I came out in my early 20s because I figured it was time I was honest with everybody. It was no surprise to my family. There was an adjustment period, but you have to allow your parents to have that adjustment period.”

Barrowman says he realized as he became a public figure in the UK that he could become a voice for those who don’t have one. He began to speak up, and not just about gay issues.

“I want to help integrate change in the world,” Barrowman says. “I have a platform, and I’m not afraid to express my opinions. I support cancer charities, rescuing homeless dogs, and support a children’s hospice near my home in South Wales.

“I’m very involved with the government in the UK, and have been invited to discuss sexual orientation issues at 10 Downing Street. It’s about live and let live. I’m not going to shove anything down your throat. I’m just fighting for my rights as a human being and an individual.”

Along the way, Barrowman will be fighting the villains on “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” no doubt winning over American fans with his… um, obvious charm.

“Captain Jack is omnisexual — known for his relationships with women and men,” Barrowman says, with a rakish smile. “This season, ‘Torchwood’ will be more edgy than before. There’s more darkness and trauma in store for Captain Jack, but as these new events happen, he also comes back a happier guy. It’s going to be great.”



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