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DC Legends of Tomorrow's Brandon Routh Says Filming Ray's Goodbye Was 'Really Rough'

The actor also weighs in on whether he'll return

Keisha Hatchett

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for Tuesday's episode of DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Read at your own risk.]

DC's Legends of Tomorrow said goodbye to fan favorites Ray (Brandon Routh) and Nora (Courtney Ford) in a delightfully weird hour that also packed a huge emotional punch. Tuesday's episode, titled "Romeo V. Juliet: Dawn of Justness," saw Ray Plamer embark on his final mission as a Legend, while Nora rang in her final days on the Waverider with an epic bachelorette bash.

A lead on the Loom of Fate prompted Ray, Nate (Nick Zano), Constantine (Matt Ryan), and Charlie (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) to travel to Elizabethan England where they came face to face with William Shakespeare. Their mission quickly evolved into a pseudo bachelor party for Ray, with everyone drinking and having a good time. Little did they know, Shakespeare had been taking note of their wild tales and transformed his seminal romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet into a bawdy superhero story.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow's Brandon Routh Opens Up About Ray and Nora's 'Forced' Exits

Meanwhile, Sara (Caity Lotz), Ava (Jes Macallan), Nora, and Mona (Ramona Young) invited Zari (Tala Ashe) to join them for book club, which turned into a fun-filled bachelorette celebration for Nora with scooters, a stripper, and even a pony. It was both magical and spontaneous -- the perfect going-away party for Nora.

Once the Legends realized Constantine and Nate's drunken rambling changed history, the gang was forced to return to the 1500s to clean up their mess. Things were even more complicated with Ray struggling to tell Nate that he was leaving, only gaining the courage to do so after a touching conversation with Shakespeare. However, Nate overheard their heart-to-heart and stormed off, and it seemed like the besties would not get a proper sendoff. Alas, Legends came through for the pair in one of the show's most moving scenes. Back on the Waverider, Ray and Nate finally got their much-delayed goodbye, and Ray and Nora were soon off to begin a new chapter in their lives.

In the wake of Ray and Nora's bittersweet exit, TV Guide spoke to Brandon Routh about Ray's touching goodbye with Nate and what it was like to film that scene. The actor also opened up about his favorite Legends episodes and weighed in on whether or not he'd return.

​Nick Zano and Brandon Routh, DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Nick Zano and Brandon Routh, DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Dean Buscher/The CW

What was it like filming this episode knowing that it would be the last one for Ray and Nora? Did you guys do anything special for the occasion?
Brandon Routh: I think just being there every day was the thing. Also, to make things more challenging, we filmed the last two episodes and the crossover all at the same time. So we were going back and forth, shooting three different episodes. My actual final day was a pickup day of shooting green screen with the Atom for a half hour so it was a very strange exit. If I look at the moments where Ray is saying goodbye to Nate, and then Ray and Nora going off the ship for those two days, some of those things were kind of what I mark in my brain and my heart as the final days for Ray. But it was challenging. [There were] a lot of tears by the actors and by crew members in certain scenes. We're a family.

Throughout this episode, it looked like Ray and Nate weren't going to get a proper goodbye but then they actually do and it's just this earnest, heartfelt moment. What was it like to film that scene?
Routh: It was really rough on a personal level and then, obviously, for Ray. There's a lot of the real emotion bubbling up so those moments in those scenes and that whole episode is probably some of my best work. I'm truthful and real in a way maybe I haven't been before because it was hitting so close to home for me. A camera was glitching when we were shooting that day so we could only shoot with one camera--normally we have two or three--And because of that, Nick and I had to do that scene many more times than normally we would have. It was such an emotional moment for both of us and our characters and we were able to continue keeping the through-line of the emotion throughout the scene. But we were really crying to each other and we kept messing with the final line because it wasn't fitting until we made it what it was.

For many, Nate and Ray's friendship sort of flies in the face of toxic masculinity. They're so open about their feelings with each other and it's beautiful. What has that bond meant to you throughout the series?
Routh: That's one of the most serendipitous things that's come out of this for me. We certainly didn't realize that at all in the moment. We were just doing our thing and being two guys because that's how we are with our friends and I guess not everyone [is like that]. It's certainly not exhibited on television, that kind of a relationship between two men. And so, it was us just having fun, appreciating each other. Then we started to see that people were really responding to the bromance aspect of it and breaking down toxic masculinity and so then there were moments that then we started to put in specifically. Maybe the writers did, too, to kind of to push that, to show that it's okay for two dudes to love each other in a totally heterosexual way; to show love for each other and appreciation for the humanity that you find in someone else no matter who they are.

Absolutely. And in my previous interview with Courtney, she touched on Ray and Nora's relationship and how they've helped each other to understand what it's like to be fully human. What's your take on their relationship and how it's changed Ray?
Routh: I think you see that kind of progression of Ray's change throughout the time with Nora. It may seem that her change is more pronounced from having been possessed by demons, you could say, to working with the good guys. But Ray comes to terms with the fact that not everything is always sunshine and rainbows and you have to allow for heaviness and darkness to be a part of life. I don't think that Ray and Nora would have been able to succeed as a couple if Ray wouldn't have accepted Nora's past. Not just knowing it but accepting it and letting it be a part of her.

Letting people sit with their heavy emotions was a big thing that Ray learned. I think traditionally, he would have just tried to bypass it, tried to say, "Oh, but you will be better. We'll just do this and this and that and it'll make everything better" instead of realizing that sometimes the best medicine when somebody is having a hard time is to just allow them to vent and speak and to be supportive of them. We don't see those moments necessarily in the show but they're there, those little bits where we see Ray opening up to that and that's what makes the relationship work.

If you were to be asked to return, is that something you've consider or is this the last we've seen of Ray?
It's a really tough question to answer. It's one that I don't even know how I can really answer because what I was told was that there was just no more to write for Ray and Nora, so I don't see how they can be brought back if there's no more story to be written for them. There's no, "Oh, we'll come back. We have a time crew. We'll come back and check in on you." It was a goodbye forever. That's what's scripted and when Ray says goodbye to Nate, that's what's happening. I don't know why that's how they chose to write it, but that's how I played it. I can say that I love this character. I love my cast and my crew and the fans who have supported this show so he's always near and dear to my heart. I definitely would like to see Ray a part of something again but there's a lot that has to change before that happens, I think.

There are so many amazing, unforgettable moments in the show. What are some of your favorites and why?
Routh: I really loved the last episode ["Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac"], so many fantastic elements in that. Courtney is so funny in it and I love the relationship between her and Damien [Darhk]. And then, we don't get to see a lot of it, but just the relationship between Ray and Damien. There are so many levels there, it was so interesting and fun and bittersweet to shoot.

I honestly think that maybe this last episode will be my, in a weird way, my favorite because it's so earnest and true and speaks to Ray. And we see more of his truth than we've seen before. Prior to filming that episode, I usually go with the Camelot episodes and the Knights of the Round Table and Sir Raymond of the Palms. And then "Phone Home" is also a great episode to me.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.

​Brandon Routh, DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Brandon Routh, DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Dean Buscher/The CW