Last week’s penultimate episode of Shadowhunters made a few startling revelations, but none quite as shocking as that of Hodge Starkweather, the Institute’s humble weapons trainer, being revealed as an agent of Valentine. Those familiar with the book series knew the moment was a possibility, but as the rest of the show continuously reminds us on this journey, not all follows the beaten path, and Jon Cor’s performance as Hodge has managed to turn even those who believed they knew him into those who have no clue what becomes of him next. I had the opportunity to chat to Jon about Hodge’s dark turn and how he ticks behind his fateful decision to betray the Shadowhunters of the New York Institute.
Jon is known for numerous television roles including Dark Matter, Being Human and Beaver Falls, and work in films such as The Boy She Met Online and Saw 3D. He is also a musician, an insane martial artist/acrobat, and a brutally honest, gritty, thought-provoking writer with an upcoming novel, In Heat, due soon for release. Read Jon’s interview below!
You’re a writer, and now that the cat is out of the bag, how would you describe Hodge in 20 words or less?
A disillusioned, opportunistic Circle veteran whose fears often overwhelm his dwindling faith in others.
Are fans going to learn more about what drove Hodge to this point of betrayal?
In his own words, even.
Episode 12 was a game changer for a few characters, especially Hodge. What was your reaction when you first got the script?
Loved it! Playing the archetypal Judas, a character known for his ever-imminent and plot-altering betrayal in the books, meant that we had to lull the fandom into a false sense of security for television all over again. To do this, we thought of Hodge as a survivor instead of a snake; as adaptive instead of conniving; as a man who understands and appreciates his lot in life as deeply as he is ashamed of and most often attempting to transcend and improve it. Themes of transformation, desperation, thwarted perseverance and subterfuge are a lot fun to play.
With the fans now knowing that Hodge is the mole, does the finale begin with the Institute knowing?
Hm. (grins) What do you think? Did anybody know by the end of last week’s episode?
What can you tease about how everyone finds out or what their reactions will be like?
They say losing a loved one is a lot like losing… a piece of yourself.
Last week’s interaction between Hodge and Valentine, I’m assuming, was you talking to empty space. Do you have any physical scenes with Valentine in the finale and if so, what was it like filming with Alan? Was there an anticipation there?
Scenes like that, typically, we’ll shoot two versions, one with and another without the actor in place. Alan and I agreed to read for each other behind the camera to help authenticate our performances, even when speaking to – as you say – empty space. Was there anticipation? Sure! I couldn’t wait to bring Hodge and Valentine’s dynamic to life. For Hodge in particular, there’s a lot of conflict there; a love/hate, idolatry/fear, push/pull magnetic feud.
And Alan, well. He’s great! Enormous presence. Totally Valentine.
Did Hodge kill Lydia?
No. But now that I think of it, like the Forsaken in episode eight, everything he touches does seem to go through a table! (laughs) So. Yeah. Since Hodge is basically a facsimile of Chuck Norris, maybe he did and he doesn’t even know it?
Hodge seems to have this innate BS detecter because he keeps catching the younger Shadowhunters out on their way to their secret side missions – and he willingly turns a blind eye. Do you think that came from a need to have their trust and avoid detection or was it a small way Hodge could live vicariously through them in their rebellion against Clave orders?
In many ways, albeit only occasionally, I feel that Hodge knows them better than they know themselves. What you’ve seen of Hodge in slow, percolating snippets is a reluctant, calculated deception in order to secure his freedom combined with a devoted desire to ensure that Jace, Alec et al remain safe and removed from his side-plot; and therefore inculpable, free of any potential consequence be it Valentine – or Clave – enforced. He loves them without question or compromise. That much in Hodge is steadfast and true, I believe. He would suffer for them willingly! Just, y’know. Not for the Man, not for the Clave.
Hodge is obviously wanting his freedom back, and you said in your previous interview with us that you don’t believe him to be a villain. Is he actually loyal to Valentine or simply using him as a means to his own end?
Valentine has a sort of… drug-like effect on Hodge, I think. Effortlessly commanding Hodge’s fear as well as his awe and subsequent admiration simultaneously. I don’t think Hodge wants to see things the way Valentine does, but I don’t think he can help it a lot of the time, either. A silver tongue carries a form of seduction not unlike any other. Regardless, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, here. (laughs) I don’t have any insider trading to share, even if I was so inclined and eager to render myself unemployable.
Does Hodge believe Valentine is a villain?
He believes Valentine is a Force of Nature. To join or to oppose him is inevitable, for, like climate change or global warming, Valentine just can’t be ignored. Hodge knows that Valentine is capable of the unspeakable. He’s seen it. Felt it. And soon? As far as Hodge is concerned, the rest of you/them will, too.
It’s probably beyond what you can say, but I’ve got to ask! Does Hodge survive the finale?
Ha, ha! Can’t answer that. Sorry. But the episode will.
What was your favorite scene to film in the finale?
Tough to decide! Dominic and I have some wonderful scenes together. I’m not familiar with his movement background, but, regardless, he’s a natural athlete. We got together before and after hours in and of our own volition to rehearse. All I can say at this point is, you’ll know it when you see it. Total labor of love. One of my fondest set memories to date. Props to the stunt department for going above and beyond with us.
What should fans expect from the finale?
Why, nothing short of face-melting catharsis, of course! (winks) Thanks for watching. Can’t wait for y’all to see it.
Catch Jon tonight on the season finale of Shadowhunters at 9pm/8c on Freeform, and tomorrow internationally on Netflix.