Heroes are carefully crafted from the brutal sands of time, and in the CW series ARROW, Oliver Queen was forged by five harsh years trying to survive on an island hunted and tormented by oppressors at every turn. It steeled his resolve to return home and eradicate the evil festering in his home city so that those he loved would be free of such fear and domination. Fortunately for Oliver, he has a few key friends and family watching his back along the way. At last month’s WB Mondo International Press Tour, star David Ramsey shared insights into his heroic character, a few teasers about what’s upcoming on ARROW, and what the shows they love watching on DVD.
Do you think John Diggle’s fully embraced Oliver’s chosen path, or is it just too dark for him, he’s kind of wary of it?
DAVID: Yes and no. I think that John Diggle is probably the only person that sees that he’s suffering, Oliver’s suffering from Post?Traumatic Stress Syndrome. And so there’s a sense of wanting to help. I think there’s a relationship here that he has with Oliver that’s similar to maybe that he had with his deceased brother Andy. I think there’s that. But Diggle has a very high moral code, right? I think when he first joined the crusade he told them that he was here to help Oliver stay on a path that was not about arbitrary killing. I think they both agree on the bigger problem that Starling City is worth saving and the person that deserves justice doesn’t always get it, and a sense of purpose. Diggle has lost his sense of purpose after leaving the military, I think. So there’s something that he needs from this with Oliver. I don’t think he always agrees that justice is best served by honoring his father’s dying wish by killing people in a book. I don’t think he sees it that way. And there’s some episodes that even reflected that by him going after some small?time drug dealers and some other stuff that Diggle thought was important in terms of how it helped the community. So the larger picture, they agree on. On how to get there, they don’t.
Were you familiar when you took this job on? And is your character part of that mythology? Can you tell us what you learned?
DAVID: Yes, I was familiar and I knew that I was not part of it. John Diggle is a made?up person. John is kind of connection to the Little John of the Robin Hood lore, right? He is Little John. Diggle is homage to Andy Diggle who was the creator of “Green Arrow: Year One,” the comic book. So together, they make John Diggle. And he’s kind of the voice of reason, the moral base for Oliver. But, no, he did not exist in the DC or “Green Arrow” universe.
So that gave you a bit more freedom, then, didn’t it?
DAVID: They did. When I walked in the room, met Andrew Kreisberg and David Nutter, they’re like, “You don’t exist. You are a figment of our imagination, so we can do anything with you.” And that gave them some creative license, even more so — I mean, there are some restrictions, obviously, to the “Green Arrow” universe, but I’m out of that universe.
What surprised you about your character that you didn’t expect?
DAVID: That’s a good question. I didn’t expect him to stand up to Oliver as much as he does. I really expected him to kind of fall in line a little more and he doesn’t. I mean, he challenges Oliver every week. Every week he challenges Oliver, which, I think, really helps the growth of the hero, and I’m glad to be part of that. And I’m glad that it is not a challenge that you look at Diggle, you hear Diggle and you go, oh, God, here it comes again. But it really does make sense, the stuff that he’s saying to Oliver. Listen, if every day, every week when you turn on ARROW if this is about killing part of the 1 percent every week, then it gets old, it gets old in about two episodes. So it has to be about him reining in his own peers, but it also has to be a bigger and larger story. And I think Diggle is the catalyst of pushing Oliver around to broadening his horizons.
If you would have to pick one key scene that explains his personality during all those that you’ve shot so far, which one would you choose?
DAVID: That’s another good question. Well, I would probably pick the scene where he decided to join the crusade and he tells Oliver that Oliver is not a soldier. Because Oliver, I think, first saw himself as in a war and himself as a soldier. And I think Diggle kind of took some offense to that because he is truly a soldier. And there’s a great scene where Diggle explains to Oliver that arbitrary killing is something that takes a piece of you as a member of humanity, and it continues. The more you do it, the more it scrapes a part of you off more and more and more. And I think that humanity was something that Oliver is struggling with on the island, because the island did such horrible things to him. And Diggle immediately saw that depth of emptiness from trauma that was done to Oliver. He identified with it. He saw it. And I think that speech that he gave to Oliver about what war really does to the soul, what killing really does to a human, I think, was probably one of the most important, poignant things of the whole series so far.
Do you watch any other shows on television?
DAVID: Yeah, I’m a big fan of television. I was a part of it, and I mention it all the time. Maybe I shouldn’t mention it as much, but I still love DEXTER. I was a big part of it for a couple seasons. I think the season with John Lithgow is probably the best season. But this season is just right up there. I mean, how are they doing it season after season? I mean, just the writing. And Again, I think our show, ARROW, I think, like DEXTER it starts in that writing room. And every single week when we get a script on ARROW the same way we felt on DEXTER ?? where you’re like, “Oh, what’s going to happen next?” It is the same way I feel on ARROW. I really don’t know what’s going to happen next. And when you see it, it’s like, “How do these guys come up with this?” So we can’t sing the praises enough of the writers.
A lot of people are watching their TV now and seasons on home video, on DVD. Is that a way that you catch up with things? What do you think about people who will be able to buy a season of this show or other shows? What about the special features and the extras; do you like that?
DAVID: I do like that. I mean, because BREAKING BAD is like what it is on DVD, hello. I really didn’t watch the series. And I’m watching it on DVD, and I’m like how did I miss it? And another series, I didn’t watch “24.” And I started watching it on DVD, and I’m like how did I miss this? But, no, I love it, and I really would love (knocking on table), it would be great one day we could be having this interview and we’re talking about the behind the scenes of the box set of ARROW. I would love that.
Since this is called ARROW, how to the point are you? Do you tend to focus in and “arrow in” on things, or are you more diffuse?
DAVID: I think that I probably kind of get real focused. I kind of can get a little obsessive?compulsive thing. But I think I’m probably more Diggle in that I don’t think I’m not as obsessive as Oliver. You know, Oliver is Hamlet, right? He got this thing from his father, and it’s the burden of the task that he must fulfill his father’s dying wish. I mean, this is right out of Shakespeare, in my mind. I mean, don’t write “David Ramsey compared ARROW to Shakespeare.” But there is that thing that, I mean, he sees his father in a vision. He has a book from his father. His father puts this pressure on him, “Fulfill my dying wish.” I mean, this was written 500 years ago, so there’s that. Diggle doesn’t have that. He doesn’t have that trauma. He doesn’t have that pressure on him. I’m probably more a person that can obsess, but, like Diggle, I will kind of begin to look at all the options and then kind of go middle of the road. Diggle’s really a middle?of?the?road guy. That’s why I identify with him personally.
Diggle was hired as like a bodyguard, but it also seems like he’s kind of the protecter now of Oliver, both of the secret and of Oliver Queen, the billionaire. Yet, one of the things that seemed obvious that they haven’t done yet is they haven’t vetted anybody in Oliver’s life. Why not? That’s like the first thing you suspect when there’s like a threat of any kind or somebody who needs to be protected, is you vet each of their personal connections.
DAVID: Well, you’ll see that. There will be some vetting of some key figures, very key figures in his life. Some very close people will be placed under a very, very bright light and this is going to cause, yet again, some tension between Diggle and Oliver about how you proceed with the truth of who these people are, of what the light is showing about these people, i.e. the Queen family. Can we just get it out? I mean, they are the 1 percent and it’s no secret that there’s been some really, really shady going?ons in that family, and it’s going to come. It’s going to come before Oliver in a way that he can’t ignore, and neither can Diggle. And how to proceed and how to go forward is going to be yet another line of contention between those two guys.
Do you have any feedback to the director or for storyline? If you have an idea, are they open to exploring, or is it pretty much there’s a bible that you have to follow?
DAVID: No. That’s a good question. Yeah, probably both. They do have an outline, but they are very open to suggestions. I spoke to them many times about the fight scenes, about love interests. And they will say, well, “This is kind of where we’re going and this is what we’re thinking about.” And I’m like, “Well, do you think it should be this?” And they’re like, “Well, maybe, yeah, well, yeah, maybe.” So right now, season one, they’re very receptive.
Do they use the bow and ARROW on set much around you?
And is it a real one or a fake one?
DAVID: Both. There’s an arrow wrangler. Because they have to use the real arrows because the real arrow tips catch the light in a way that the fake ones don’t. And then, if they’re pointing it at you, you can’t be within 6 feet or 8 feet and they have to point it away. I mean, there’s these whole safety regulations and everything else. But yes, and it’s a real formidable instrument.
How close do you want to be when they’re using those real arrows?
DAVID: You don’t want to be close. I mean, they have things. These have these sponges covering them and they uncover them. It’s a whole presentation with these arrows, I mean. But yeah, it’s a whole thing, and they’re sharp. They’re razor?sharp.
Is Stephen good at use the bow and arrow now?
DAVID: Stephen, yes, yes, he is. Stephen’s form is like ?? I mean, people write about it. His form is fantastic.
John Diggle already has fans all over the world.
DAVID: That’s what I heard. That’s what I heard. I got some fans all over the world. I mean, right now I’m just enjoying the ride. So ask me in season three when I’m like, “Yeah, I got fans, brother, I got fans.” Right now I’m just taking it all in stride. It’s great. Like I said, it’s great to go to work and love something that you’re doing, to be a part of a show that, wow, it’s a really good show.
So you haven’t been struck by fame?
DAVID: No. No. It’s always so fleeting. Every week I get a script and I’m looking at it thinking, “Oh, wow, they came up with this.” But every week I get a script, I’m looking to see if there’s a sniper on the roof about to kill Diggle.
You’ve been wearing that bulletproof vest just in case, haven’t you?
DAVID: Yeah. Because you never know, you never know. And as an actor, you’re always thinking, “Oh, God, please don’t die.
You’ve been watching “24” too much.
DAVID: I know, exactly, or DEXTER.
So what’s your thing? Oliver Queen’s is the bow and arrow. What is the thing that you have in Diggle’s arsenal?
DAVID: I train a lot. I’m doing stuff in Vancouver. I have a fantastic school in Vancouver, a fantastic school in Los Angeles. So I’m training a whole lot just because I love it. Working with weights, but a lot of JKD, a lot of mixed martial arts. I just love the culture of it.
And you’re looking forward to Diggle getting a love interest?
DAVID: Yeah. I think everyone on the show has one now except for Thea doesn’t quite have a love interest yet. Maybe Thea and Diggle. (Laughs) But, no. But, yes, Diggle will find some love.
With those teasers in mind, and with the promise of more high-stakes, more high-octane adventures and more villains to fight, ARROW returns with all new episodes on Wednesday, January 16th at 8PM on the CW (7PM on CTV in Canada)
Tiffany Vogt is the Senior West Coast Editor, contributing as a columnist and entertainment reporter to TheTVaddict.com. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).