An ex-TV psychic, a straight arrow, an arson specialist and a tech geek make up the crime-solving police unit in The Mentalist, a sleeper hit series, which premieres its third season tonight.
There’s no such thing as dilly-dallying for agent Kimball Cho of the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the dry-witted investigator — played by Korean-American actor Tim Kang — whose deadpan humour and by-the-book demeanor have become an endearing character on the show.
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“He’s focused, driven and single-minded. He is basically about whatever bottom line there is in a case which is a resolution,” Kang says. “There’s a reason why he’s the way he is now. We’ve just started to scratch the surface of various things in his past.”
Cho’s elusive past is revealed piece by piece in the series, which includes a stay at juvie, a military career and a history of gang involvement before he became a police officer.
Kang says he would love to see his character get out of his normal comfort zone this season, to get a reaction out of him.
“He always seems pretty put together so it would be nice to see him in a situation where he’s kind of a little bit uncomfortable.”
A bachelor living in L.A., Kang says he loves riding motorcycles and spends his free time at motor sports events, hanging out with friends and reading classic and American literature.
He got into acting later in life, signing up for a beginner’s night course that he saw advertised on a sandwich board while living in San Francisco.
Kang says that as an actor, there are aspects of every character he plays that exist in his own personality, but unlike Cho, he says he doesn’t live in such a stoic and focused part of his life all of the time.
He admits he smiles way too much to be like Cho. “I think Cho has smiled zero times this season thus far. Maybe he smiled twice.”