Now in its fourth season, CBS's hit drama The Mentalist keeps bringing the win as a cocky, brilliant former psychic, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), helps the California Bureau of Investigation solve the toughest crimes with a flair for the dramatic. Jane's team mates sometimes have to play baby-sitter to his extravagant actions, but in the end, they usually get their man.
Tim Kang has appeared in everything from The Office to AT&T commercials before landing a spot as the stoic king of dead-pan snark, Agent Kimball Cho on The Mentalist. We caught up with Tim to talk about his character this season and to see if anything's new in the world of "Cho-business."
Is there anything special happening with Cho coming up?
"Well, he's starting to develop a bit of a relationship with Summer, but we really haven't gotten into the meat of it yet, but we're definitely setting it up this season. It's been a lot of fun. Samaire Armstrong is awesome to work with and we'll definitely be seeing more of her."
Yeah, speaking of Summer, what's that relationship all about? Is it romantic, is it platonic?
[laughs] "I think that's one of the things I really love about playing this character, it's kind of up to you to decide. It's not a completely and totally obvious thing. Like Rigsby's love for Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) – it's really kinda shoved down your throat. But with Cho, he plays his cards a little bit closer to the vest. I think the fans dig that too."
Will the fact that Cho covered for Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) with regard to his job come back to bite Cho in the ass later?
"Well, time is always an issue as far as how much time we can devote to the A story as opposed to the B story. But I believe that we will see the repercussions of that event down the line. It's something that's always in the back pocket of the writers. It's funny that you mention that because I did talk to some of the writers about that particular event and it's still on their radar. We may yet see some consequences of that."
What interested you about Cho when you took this role? What do you look for in a role?
"As far as for me as an actor, if the role is well written. It doesn't have to be dramatic, if a comedic piece is interesting to me I'll do it. I'll do short film; I'll do a student film. If I read a script and I like it, I'll do it. We, as actors, search for material that engages us in some way. This character [Cho] didn't start out the way the he is now, originally. For example, Cho started out as a family man: father of two, kinda of schlepy, bookworm. He still is a bookworm, any free time he has he breaks open a good book. Some of the stuff I kept, and other stuff I tossed wholesale. I wanted to keep the bookwormy, schlepy aspects. That's where Cho's short sleeves came from. I wanted to keep a realism to it and it always rubbed me the wrong way when I see these cop shows and these guys show up in Prada suits. You're on a cop's salary; you can't afford $5,000 suits! When I thought of book worm, I thought of NASA scientists with their short sleeves and pocket protectors and thought, yeah, let's put him in short sleeves like that. But that doesn't mean that Cho can't take care of a situation, physically, though. It's a nice marriage to two worlds with Cho, where normally in network television, we see one or the other."
[As an aside, Cho in a pocket protector would be ten kinds of awesome!]
What would you like to see happen with Cho down the road, development-wise?
"I would love to see family. I'd love to see where [Cho] came from. In the backstory that I developed for him in season one, some of that is precluded by the fact that some of his family members are dead. This is all stuff that I came up with, so obviously, sometimes, they keep what I've come up with and sometimes they don't."
They give you some leeway with scripts when you get them?
"Absolutely. The only genre that is consistently anal about sticking word-for-word to the lines is theater. In TV we sorta thrive and enjoy the riffing and the ad libs. It might take you out of the story, but it’s fun to watch."
About Red John – Is Cho an "ends justify the means" kind of guy and help Jane kill Red John, or would he be more like Lisbon, bringing him to justice alone?
"Is Cho an "ends justify the means" kind of guy? Yeah, when it comes to Red John, I think that's how he'd do it. In the beginning, like in Season 1, it seemed like Cho was this robotic, stick-to-the-rules-no-matter-what kind of guy, but as we come to learn that for Cho it's more about justice. And if we're just going to serve justice just for the sake of following the letter of the law, then Cho doesn't operate like that. He's very much an independent thinker, which goes along with his military background. Green Berets don't just march to the beat of the same drum, which makes them good at being special operators. If he sees something that is completely wrong, but falls in the letter of the law, he disagrees. But yeah, I think if we find anything out about Red John that's a little more direct than what we have, then yeah, I think the "ends justify the means" is a perfect way of thinking of it for him."
Any plans for the hiatus?
"I like to spend hiatus doing the things that I enjoy doing. Especially this hiatus, it's going to be spending time with family, mainly."
Source: Melissa BiJeaux (PopStar.com).