Harry Shum Jr. was never considered for the role of Valentine on Shadowhunters, but Monday’s episode (Freeform, 8/7c) does make for a pretty solid audition tape.
Following last week‘s 11th-hour switcheroo, Magnus and Valentine are now inhabiting each other’s bodies, creating a multi-layer challenge for the characters — as well as the actors.
“He’s a hard one to crack,” Shum tells TVLine of Valentine’s portrayer Alan Van Sprang. “He has a lot of nuances, all these little movements and smiles. I just tried to capture that without being too blatant or hokey about it, since [Valentine] is trying to hide those characteristics, trying to fool people as much as he can.”
Of course, there’s one thing Azazel didn’t consider when putting Valentine in Magnus’ body: “Valentine doesn’t really know Magnus that well, other than him being a ‘filthy warlock,’ as he says,” explains Shum. “He knows he’s a little flamboyant, but he doesn’t know much about his personal life,” including that Alec is his boyfriend. As Shum points out, it’s much harder to fool “someone he’s been intimate with.”
Despite being kept apart for most of the hour — “Valentine” remains in Shadowhunter custody, while “Magnus” roams freely about the city — the two do share a scene together, which Shum calls “really fun” for a number of reasons.
“I’ve never really gotten to act with [Van Sprang] before, so to do it this way for the first time — playing each other — made it even more interesting,” Shum says. “He’s such a great actor, and it was so cool to see what he did with it, seeing how he lifted those little hand movements and other things I’ve contributed to the character.”
And although it’ll probably end up on the cutting room floor, Shum is really hoping that his ad-libbed line at least makes it to the Season 2 blooper reel: “We looked at each other in this very serious moment, and I told him, ‘Magnus, you’ve never looked better.’”