The Dark Archer will pay Starling City a visit on this week's Arrow, and considering John Barrowman's "well-dressed man" was revealed to be Malcolm Merlyn, the father of Tommy (Colin Donnell), it seems only likely that the DC Comics' famed dark archer — aka Merlyn — is one and the same as the new villain plaguing Oliver (Stephen Amell). So is Malcolm the famed Merlyn or is it his son? TVGuide.com turned to Barrowman to get the scoop:
I'm sure you knew this role was something more than just the "well-dressed man," but what was it exactly that attracted you to coming on Arrow?
John Barrowman: I was in my house in Palm Springs and my partner and I were having a little bit of a break, and I received a telephone call via my agency in the States and they said they wanted to set me up with a call with the producers of this new show they're doing called Arrow on The CW. So I had a conversation with Andrew Kreisberg and a few other people, and they basically said, "We loved you on Torchwood. We loved what you've done on Doctor Who. We think you'd be great on this show." They explained the role to me, and the last thing they said was, "It's not a very big part at the moment, but we'd like to build it. We wonder if you'd be involved." I said to them right off the bat, "Guys, you've just spoken to me for 30 minutes. The passion you have in your voices about the show — and it's the same feeling I got when I did Torchwood and Doctor Who — and I firmly believe because of that that you're going to produce a great show, so you can count me on board.
I was flattered to be asked. How many times do we, as actors, get producers and people calling us to help create a role and a character on a major TV show? I was bowled over that I was asked, so of course I would jump at it. I'm glad I did because I'm loving doing it and I'm having a really great time. The cast is incredible, and Stephen is wonderful. It's funny because he says he looks up to me like the bigger brother in a sense that I've done all this sci-fi hero genre before. He asks me questions and I feel really privileged that he's turning to me for certain words of advice on fans and the whole comic book world because I've been a fanboy myself for a very long time. I'm having a ball.
We'll see the Dark Archer on this week's episode. Considering Merlyn knows a thing or two about shooting an arrow, how will he be involved?
Barrowman: Well, you're assuming that all from the stuff that you've read from the comics, obviously. I can't confirm or deny any of that, but what I will say is that one thing with Malcolm that you will be learning in the future is that he will always reveal something that will surprise you. There's never going to be a dull moment with him in that aspect. I'm just really pleased at how the story line itself is going. There was a story first being built with Moira (Susanna Thompson) in a very small way, and then all of a sudden when you find out he's Tommy's father, it was a big reveal! So I'm looking forward to all that kind of stuff that is yet to come. That's the diplomatic answer. [Laughs]
He wants to protect the Tempest group, so he is out for blood when it comes to this vigilante.
Barrowman: He is, but this is the way I look at it: When I play a villain — and this is the second or third time I've played a villain — I don't see him as being a villain really. I see him as also having a cause. It's funny because he goes about the cause in a way that's completely different than everybody else, but in his eyes, it seems right because he's protecting his interests. He's also trying to protect a greater good. In a way, the interests of Arrow, where he's trying to clean the city up, well, in Malcolm's eyes, he's trying to do the same thing, but in a way to protect himself at the same time.
What is his goal in going up against Arrow?
Barrowman: If I told you what the goal was, I'd give you the spoiler for probably the rest of the season! To put it this way, Oliver has an objective and Oliver has a vendetta, yet, in Malcolm's eye, it's like he's using this vendetta to say he's cleaning up the city of the bad and wrong people on this list. Malcolm sees that these people are colleagues and co-workers, and not that all of them have been taken by Oliver, but some may have fallen by the wayside by Malcolm and Moira, which we know has happened to a couple and we've taken care of things. In a weird way, we're both going for the same thing.
Will Malcolm go face-to-face with Oliver and/or Arrow?
Barrowman: Personally, I would love to see him go head-to-head with both Oliver and Arrow and also go head-to-head with Moira. As the story line with Moira is building, you can see that she's not becoming so frightened of Malcolm. She's standing up. You've got these very powerful people in very different ways. She's in a power position with her family and the stuff that her husband has left her, but Malcolm is in a powerful way with business and his colleagues and also with all the manipulation tactics that he has. I would love to see a real standoff between Oliver and Malcolm.
The big question now is: Who is really the famed Merlyn between Tommy and Malcolm? Did Malcolm cut Tommy off to teach him a lesson so he'll eventually come back into the fold? Is Tommy destined to follow in his father's footsteps?
Barrowman: Seriously, you're asking such great stuff that I want to blurb out — and I know you want me to! What I can say is that Malcolm feels that Tommy is slightly a waste at the moment. Perhaps Malcolm is seeing something in Oliver that he would actually like to see in his own son. When Malcolm cuts off Tommy's trust fund and slaps him in the face, it's basically, in blunt terms, saying to him, "You are a f----up and you need to get your a-- in gear. I'm going to cut you off until you do; until you realize responsibility because you're just a waste of space." That's what he really would've loved to have said to him. [Laughs]
Considering Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is in between Oliver and Tommy, might Malcolm use her in his quest?
Barrowman: If you go back to all that has happened from the beginning, you're right, Malcolm sees her as something standing in the way of things. He knows if a woman is in the way, that's a problem. The women are very powerful in the way that they do things and manipulate. Malcolm does meet her and he tries to be civil and nice, but it just doesn't turn out the way it's supposed to. Yes, Malcolm thinks she's in the way. But whether or not he has a confrontation with her or uses her against Oliver or Tommy, that hasn't come up into play yet.
Despite Oliver being cleared in public court, do you think Malcolm still suspects that Oliver has something to do with the vigilante or is actually the vigilante?
Barrowman: Malcolm suspects, but again, cannot confirm. If Malcolm is suspecting things about anybody, he will always be very, very cautious of them.
Do you think Malcolm is the Dark Archer? Hit the comments!
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.