Meet The Neighbors: Tim Jo

The upcoming ABC comedy star shares his Marvel toy collector tips, plus why he relates to Nightcrawler and more!

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By Blake Garris

“The Neighbors” is an upcoming comedy series premiering Wednesday, September 26 on ABC at 9:30/8:30c after “Modern Family" and then moving to its regular timeslot at 8:30/7:30c on October 3 after “The Middle.” We recently spoke with star Tim Jo, who plays the alien character known as Reggie Jackson. Tim shared what you can expect from the show, his love for Marvel animated series and his obsession with collecting action figures.

Marvel.com: To begin, what made “The Neighbors” something you wanted to work on?

Tim Jo: There [are] so many reasons. The obvious reason being the creative team behind it. Beyond that, personally as an actor, it was more of an underdog story. In the sense that our show was so from left field, that it was hard to say that it was a sure thing. I loved the fact that we were a little awkward, that we were a little weird as a show and as a flavor of comedy, and that’s probably what excited me the most; and the hopes to be able to surprise and please people with this different kind of comedy.

Marvel.com: It’s funny that you mention that because right when you are about to get comfortable, a joke comes out of nowhere and it was the craziest, funniest thing.

Nightcrawler

Tim Jo: I’ve had many goals that I set as part of my acting career. One is I always wanted to have a project be something that would be taken to Comic-Con. I’ve been attending Comic-Con for three years, but more as a pure fan. I’m just on the floor being a fan, going up to all the booths and the artists. This year, “The Neighbors” had a booth set up on the floor, and that was beyond anything I could’ve ever hoped for. Then the fact that it’s sci-fi—I’m a true geek.

Marvel.com: Well since you brought that up, do you like any specific Marvel comics or characters?

Tim Jo: I grew up, of course, with the X-Men, and all of Jim Lee’s work impacted the way I read comics. My tastes were really formed from there. Spider-Man was the easy big name for people to give me. But I was always a real quiet kid, so I didn’t connect with Spider-Man emotionally as much as I could physically. I could maybe connect a little more with Nightcrawler. [Laughs] I always feel sort of like an outsider, because I grew up in Texas and I’m an Asian kid. It was either I could connect with Nightcrawler or Jubilee.
Marvel.com: Did you watch the “X-Men” animated series as well?

Tim Jo: I watched all of them. I watched “Wolverine and the X-Men,” I watched “X-Men.” Right now I’m watching “Ultimate Spider-Man.” My friend’s actually a storyboard artist on it. I think that’s probably the coolest thing in the world.

Marvel.com: You were on an episode of “Castle.” We have a graphic novel of that coming out. What was the experience on that show like for you?

Castle: Storm Season

Tim Jo: Every job does open your eyes to a different aspect of something. With “Castle,” it was the fact that everybody from Nathan Fillion to the people that were fitting me with squibs treated me with such a respect and such a colleague mentality. They welcomed me; they treated me very graciously. That was one of the strongest things that I can bring onto my show, was the fact that this was a family, and we’ve got these guests coming, and whenever these guests come you’ve got to treat them [well]. Because who am I? I’m no Nathan Fillion, so if Nathan Fillion can treat me like I’m a Nathan Fillion, then I’m going to treat everyone like they’re a Nathan Fillion as well.
Marvel.com: What was your experience like at Comic-Con as a fan?

Tim Jo: I’m a huge collector of action figures. I’ve got a huge game plan that I do with one of my best friends. Preview Night is about standing in line at the Hasbro booth, or collecting all the Marvel stuff. Days two and three you can relax a little. If we stay until Sunday, we’ll definitely try to go around getting deals on comic books and other action figures. It’s a real game plan. My girlfriend keeps telling me that she wants to come and I’m like “Trust me, you don’t want to come. This is more of a job.” It gets a little crowded, and you walk through about 20 fart clouds a day. It’s not a pretty sight. For people that love it, there’s nothing more [exciting] than being among people that are really like-minded. I’m telling myself every year that I’ve got to dress up, because I’m the type of guy that dressed up to go watch “Marvel’s The Avengers.” I dressed up as Captain America and my girlfriend dressed up as The Hulk. Maybe I’ll send you a picture. [Laughs]

Marvel.com: How did you like the movie?

Tim Jo as Captain America

Tim Jo: I was very satisfied. I thought it couldn’t have been done better. I’m not the type of guy who can complain too much. I just want more and more. [Joss Whedon] satisfied every yearning and every desire that I had for a movie, based on all these powerhouses that are owned by Marvel. I couldn’t have been more satisfied.

Marvel.com: What’s your favorite Marvel movie?

Tim Jo: “Thor.” [Laughs] I will watch every single Marvel movie out there, but in “Thor” I just thought Chris Hemsworth had such a charisma, and he smiled a lot as Thor. I thought the language would possibly catch me off guard, but it sort of modernized his character in a sense. When he was in the real world smiling so much, and playing that outsider, I thought he did a really great portrayal, and the director did everything he could have and more.

Marvel.com: Since you’re an action figure collector, do you have any figures that you hold onto more than others?

Tim Jo: Dude, you have no idea. I do subscribe to Matty Collector, so I have every single Masters of the Universe Classics. My Voltron is almost finished. I do collect Marvel Universe here and there. Mainly, I’m basically team-building with those. I want to get the Jim Lee X-Men team, but they haven’t released everything, so I’m mixing my Astonishing and Jim Lee-era. I recently picked up three Sentinels. [Laughs] Yeah, three Sentinels now. I’m probably going to regret reading this out there. I’m just offering all my nerdisms with you.

Marvel.com: Do you have the Sentinel where you can put actual figures in his hand?

Tim Jo: Yeah, Marvel Masterworks are the huge Marvel Universe toys. I saw three of them, and I had to say “I’ve always wanted a team of Sentinels, and maybe now that I’ve [got] a job I should just get them.”

"The Neighbors" set (photo by ABC/Peter Stone)

Marvel.com: Did you see the Avengers Helicarrier that they were selling at Comic-Con?

Tim Jo: I got it! [Laughs] I had to walk like six miles home with a Helicarrier. The Hasbro booth was stupid this year. They should have been selling those things with wheels.

Marvel.com: I don’t know how you did it. That thing was gigantic.

Tim Jo: There was a lot of giggling. I felt so giddy and happy for having it, but I also laughed a lot because I felt like an idiot for buying something so big.

Marvel.com: Do you take your figures out of the box and display them?

Tim Jo: I judge my toy friends in a certain way. You judge toy friends on: are they action figure collectors, or are they statue collectors? I’m an action figure collector, and points of articulation are very important to me. It’s almost like if I meet a friend and he doesn’t open his toys, we’re not going to get along. [Laughs] You’ve got to open it. I do display them. I just moved recently so I’m most excited about getting these all out and displaying them magnificently.

You wouldn’t happen to know Scott Porter would you?

Marvel.com: We interviewed him a couple times in San Diego. He’s a big fan.

Hercules & Amadeus Cho

Tim Jo: He’s one of my really good buddies. We did a movie together like six years ago, and he was like a Nathan Fillion in the sense that it was my very first movie and he treated me like a king from day one. I realized he was talking about Heroclix or something, and I was like “You play Heroclix?” and he was like “Yeah man, do you play?” I’m like “No, I don’t play, but you don’t seem like someone who would be into that,” and he just went off, and was like “Have you ever read Planet Hulk?” and I said no. He gave me a Planet Hulk book, which was an amazing read, with Greg Pak. Me and Scott haven’t stopped hanging out since. I know you’ve probably talked to Scott, because if you want to talk comics, he’s a master.

[Laughs] I can’t wait to see him in spandex, [if] you know what kind of way I mean. I don’t think anyone else deserves to be a super hero more than Scott Porter.

Marvel.com: He voiced Cyclops in one of our animated shows.

Tim Jo: You know what we should pitch? The headline of Marvel.com should be “Scott Porter: Hercules. Tim Jo: Amadeus Cho.” Wouldn’t that be perfect? If Chris Hemsworth can bulk up like crazy, Scott Porter can bulk up like no other. That would be it. That is the Amadeus Cho/Hercules movie.

Marvel.com: Thanks again for this. It was definitely a pleasure speaking with you.
Tim Jo: [Laughs] Sorry, I spent so much time talking just comics that I didn’t get to talk about the show at all. The show is sci-fi, and I think there’s a responsibility that comes with this kind of great power. Not only are we a comedy show that I think is so unique in its comedy, the writing is just brilliant. It just really is funny. I can’t get through a script without laughing. But, I think there’s a responsibility that comes when you wear that sci-fi jacket. You can’t just say “Hey, we’ve got vampires, or a love story,” you know? You’ve got to have the rules.

Tim Jo (photo by ABC/Peter "Hopper" Stone)

So, I think a great thing about our show is that we do have our rules, we do have aliens, we have our agendas, but there’s stuff that if you continue to watch that there’s going to be nuggets and there’s a through-line that can be followed for the sci-fi people. There [are] even little nuggets that I like to throw in. For example, there’s an episode where I’ve got to sing a song for my dad, and [the script] didn’t tell me exactly what kind of song to sing. They just leave it up to the actor, which is awesome of them. I did all this research on alien songs and stuff, and at the end of the day I sang the song from “Close Encounters,” but I sang it backwards. I had to get my guitar out and play all the notes backwards, and then figure out how to sing it backwards. I thought that would be a nice little, fun nugget for people that are paying attention. When you’re following sci-fi there’s nothing more fun than the little nuggets, so I’m going to try to continue doing that for the rest of the season.

“The Neighbors” premieres Wednesday, September 26 on ABC at 9:30/8:30c after “Modern Family" and then moves to its regular timeslot at 8:30/7:30c on October 3 after “The Middle.” You can follow Tim on Twitter @hellotimjo.

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