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, one such friend, actor Colin Donnell — who plays Oliver’s friend-turned-business-partner Tommy Merlyn — shared insights into his characters increasingly complex relationships, a few teasers about what’s upcoming on ARROW, and what TV Shows he’s addicted to on DVD.
Tommy and Laurel, this is the romance we totally didn’t expect to happen this quickly, this fast. How exciting has that been for you to be kind of the romantic lead suddenly on this hot show?
COLIN: I love it. And I think one of the best parts is being able to work so closely with Katie. And I think it’s a really interesting relationship to set up. Because I think everybody was expecting the Oliver?Laurel thing to jump off to a quick start. I’m loving being able to be a foil for whatever ideas that they have coming up later on.
How do you identify with your character and what’s the biggest challenge for you?
COLIN: Um, I’m not wealthy, so there’s that. (Laughs) No, I think that there’s a great deal of humanity to Tommy and some, you know, lovely sarcasm and wit that they’ve written into him. I joke with Andrew that Tommy is able to say everything that Andrew wished he would have been able to say when he was 20 years old. And it’s great. I love trying to balance the sort of not?so?great things about Tommy’s character with the things that I see as really redeeming qualities about him, the way he cares about his friends and the way that, you know, he cares about his friend’s family. And all those interactions with him are very near and dear to him, mixed with drugs and alcohol and sex.
Are you ready to be probably in the next season in costume, a super villain costume?
COLIN: What do you mean by ready? No, I mean, whatever comes along and whenever that happens, I think the thing that I’m most excited to find out along with everybody else is how it eventually happens, you know, and when it will happen. And I think it’s going to be super exciting to see, you know, how they sort of bring it all together and put us at odds with each other.
Did you do research on Merlyn from the comics?
COLIN: Yeah. I’ve gone back and read a bunch of the stuff. And Geoff Johns actually sent out this great package of comic books and sort of tabbed all the places where Merlyn was appearing. And I’m sure I’ve missed a ton, but it’s been really cool to see, because I feel like even in the comic books Merlyn still maintains this kind of cool distance within the world of the assassins. He plays an interesting role not only in Green Arrow’s life, but within the world of the assassins. It’s going to be fun to see how that all plays out and how to balance all that.
Who are your comic book heroes in general?
COLIN: Superman. Grew up, loved being Superman. When I was, I think, 20, my parents bought me “The Death and Life of superman,” the novel. I loved it. And I have read it about ten times since then.
Do you watch TV shows on DVD, what you think of the idea that people can now when your shows comes out on DVD, watch all the behind?the?scenes stuff but also just catch up on shows. Do you do that? What do you think of that technology?
COLIN: You know, I find most of the time I end up watching shows on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime here in the States and DVD. I mean, it’s the way that seems to be going. And I love interacting with the audience on Twitter live when people are watching it live, because I’m seeing they’re reactions to it for the first time and I love it. It’s great that people still watch it live. But then I love that four days later, somebody’s saying that they just got home from work and they finally put their kids to bed and they were able to catch up with the show. That to me is awesome. The more people we reach, then the more people that are able to escape for an hour and enjoy what we’re doing.
What are some of the shows that you’ve watched that way?
COLIN: I recently watched SHERLOCK, BBC’s SHERLOCK. Which those guys, holy shit, they’re good. And what else have I watched? I watch MAD MEN. I devour that. BREAKING BAD. And I feel like those shows especially sort of lend themselves when you can sit down for three days or maybe one night.
Can we talk women for a second? I was just wondering about your fan base. Do you get lots of proposals? Do you find that women are throwing themselves at you in bars, things like that?
COLIN: (Laughs) I’ve got Stephen as a great barrier. We have some wonderful fans, and I’ve got some lovely people on Team Tommy, which has been great. And people are loving the Laurel?Tommy relationship, which I think is great as well. I would love for people to root for that as much as they would root for Oliver and Laurel to be together.
When you read the project for the first time, what did you think was special about it?
COLIN: I loved how much of a human approach they had taken with a very extraordinary situation. I liked the wit of the character specifically. I loved the action, and I loved the risks that they were taking, especially for a network like CW. I thought that they were really trying to push the envelope with the show and try to make something really, really extraordinary. And I could tell that on the page, and then we got into it and it really took off from there.
ARROW airs Wednesdays 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).