With all the talk of the Suicide Squad coming back to Arrow, soon, we decided to reach out to a key member of the Squad: Deadshot, known in the real world as Michael Rowe.
Rowe agreed to an exclusive interview with ComicBook.com, discussing the Suicide Squad's return, his beef with Diggle, Will Smith taking on the character in movies, and much more.
I need to start off with some confirmation. I’ve heard Suicide Squad is going to be back, does this mean Deadshot is coming back?
Yeah, man, I was on set last night. It’s been a while. But, usually they keep these things pretty tight under wraps, but I woke up to a couple of articles online, so I guess somebody, one of the higher ups, had done an interview with Entertainment tonight or one one of these publications and spilled the beans that it was going to be a new Suicide Squad episode.
It must be tough to do all this stuff and not be able to tell anybody.
Yeah, it sucks man! I gotta say. I mean, it’s a risky process when you know you’re going to be back on the show. I’m not under contract, so when you get the call you don’t really know what’s coming, but then they’ll reserve you for a bunch of days and you’ll know around when it’s coming, and then you’re just kind of waiting and waiting for details, then they’ll send you a script and then I’m like a kid on Christmas morning- I’ll start ripping through the script and see what’s happening.
That’s one of my favorite parts of the job, man, it’s just like the wheels start spinning and you start getting ideas for scenes and yeah, it’s…it’s fun. It’s like a Batphone rings and you just gotta spring into action.
There must be so much going through your head, because last time we saw your character he was cooperating but not really by choice, and he sort of redeemed himself, but you don’t know. Does he want to be a hero or a villain? And that’s something you have to balance as an actor, how do you do that?
I think everybody has a bit of a hero and a bit of a villain inside them. You know, when it comes to Deadshot, he’s such a polarizing figure. He doesn’t work well in a team environment and he’s got a ton of issues. He’s like the lone wolf, you know what I mean? He just does what he’s gonna do and people tune in to see what decision he’ll make and you never really know which way he’s gonna go.
When I was a kid I loved professional wrestling. I loved these old school, like, 80s, 90s wrestlers, like, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jake the Snake, Randy Macho Man Savage- the dudes that didn’t really play nice with anyone. They were like their own team. They weren’t good guys, but they weren’t really with the group of villains either. And when you watch them fight you didn’t always root for them to win because they were kind of d---s, but you couldn’t wait to see what kind of s--- they were gonna stir up, you know what I mean? Anything was possible.
So there’s characters, people are drawn to them just to see what the hell is gonna happen, ‘cause you never know. And the guy doesn’t even know, you feel like he’s acting like he doesn’t even know what he’s gonna do next. There’s just real freedom to it.
Yeah, that just speaks a lot to how you play it, because everything you just described is so true and believable to the character, so compliments to you for that.
One thing I wonder when I’m watching is whether you have to train or prepare to convincingly portray this ace sniper?
I do on-set kind of sessions with real snipers. We’ve got this dude named Ryan that usually shows up, he’s a military trained sniper. He’s like a 16 time Canadian champion or something like that. He’ll show up, he’ll give me the run down on my weapon, and because they use real weapons a lot of times they’re illegal in this country, so you know for the gear heads, they’ll tune in and see what kind of sniper rifle I’m using so they’ll tune in and know what it’s used for.
So, if I’m filming in public, a lot of times there’s a police escort to bring me the weapon. So then we’ll go through the scenario of where I’m shooting and where my target is and what the options are in a situation like this in Ryan’s mind. We’ll go through a couple positions and he’ll give me all these choices and we’ll kind of talk out and we’ll have this little pow-wow and we’ll have mentor sessions. They’ll be really quick but really intense and really detailed and then they’ll let me choose what I’m comfortable with and what I think the character would do and we start to talk about what we be the best way to film and come up with the best possible scenario for the shot.
But, I, you know, I haven’t spent a lot of time really firing guns. When I was a little kid, my dad had a rifle and we would go to his place where he grew up in this remote area and shoot bottles and cans, and I was a pretty good shot.
So maybe you were destined for the role.
Yeah, exactly. You know, I didn’t see this coming from back then, but yeah, I’ve handled guns before but near the capacity to the character.
That’s pretty cool. I knew people paid attention to details but I didn’t know it was that intense and there would be someone on set teaching you.
Yeah, and he’s offered to take me out in the woods and blow stuff up and shooting and everything, I’ve just been too busy right now, but I plan to do so. Because, you’re firing blank rounds. You see the bullet fire from the gun but you don’t actually feel much of a kick back, so it’s up to me to make it look like it’s firing real bullets. So, I really need to have the feelings of what type of round makes what type of kickback.
Even more compliments to your acting, that’s stuff I hadn’t even picked up on that they’re blank rounds that don’t kick back.
I didn’t see it coming either. It’s just having to do it and facing these challenges, you gotta figure it. So you’re there, and you’re doing it. And another thing, Ryan’s telling me, when you’re a sniper, a sniper doesn’t blink when he fires. Like a boxer doesn’t blink when even when a punch is being thrown at his eye. It’s just something you train yourself to do. But especially when you’re firing these blank rounds, there’s a lot of gun powder or whatever makes it pop, that disperses outside of the gun, to make it look better, for camera. So I’m blinking because I feel it hitting my face and my eyes, and they’re like you can’t blink man, you can’t blink.
So I’m forcing my eyes to be open but I have these bullets with s--- like, in my eyes, and I’m just AHHH firing away, trying to keep it together! If people saw some of the stuff half the stuff that happens while we’re filming, it’s hilarious. Like, in the show it looks like I’m perched up on a balcony firing at a crowd of people and taking them out, but really I’m shooting at like a cardboard box with an “x” on it, you know what I mean?
And we do stuff where, the episode where Diggle breaks me out of the Russian jail. And, we had this kind of, it got edited out, but we had this through-line where I go for the gun and Diggle won’t let me have it and I take the guy’s baton- the security at the jail has these batons on their belts. And so I take the baton, and then as we’re going through trying to bust out, getting in little scraps with people and I’m using the baton getting to see a whole different fighting style from Deadshot. But then when I bust out, when we blow up the side of the building and we bust out, Diggle and Lyla start shooting at this one group of guards, Arrow is taking out another group of guards, and this one guy comes flying around the alley, and I take the baton and throw it across the courtyard and knock the guy out.
And we’re really set up in this courtyard scenario and they’re telling me, “so you’ve gotta really launch this thing, like it could really take this guy out all the way over there.” And I’m like, “No problem,” and they say, “You’re kind of throwing it high, like lobbing it, it needs to be more of straight line. Try and keep it close to camera.” So I’m like, “No problem, I got it, I got a pitching arm, I’m gonna wing this thing like you’ve never seen.” This stunt baton has got padding around it and there’s someone taking still photos, so I ask them to move aside because that’s the path I’m gonna take and we come out and we’re riled up and stuffs on fire and this guy comes around and I take one step in and I throw the thing as I hard as I can I smoke the camera guy right in the chest, neck area. And I’m like “Oh, damn!” It was one of those moments where it’s really funny, but you know, he didn’t find it funny.
So you’re trying not to laugh but everyone is like “Oh my god, that was so hard.”
Do you think Diggle and Deadshot will ever see eye to eye? Or do you think the past will keep getting away?
Even if you remove the past and what I did to Diggle, their relationship is so unique, because the end result they share. The place they want to get to in a mission or a situation… They want to end up in the same place, but the steps one would take to get there are completely opposite. So they’re kind of really drawn to each other because of that. They’re like polar opposites and I’m really intrigued by how he makes decisions and he’s really blown away by why I would do it the other way. So we start in the same spot and end in the same spot but the path we take to get there couldn’t be any more different. I don’t know that Diggle would ever be able to let go of the fact that every time he sees me he’s reminded that I took his brother.
I also see something in Diggle, that… this is the way I come at the character, I had an older brother. I looked up to him, he was my hero, stuff went down… This is from the comics, the way stuff went down, I ended up accidentally shooting and killing my own brother. So, there’s something in Diggle, maybe, that reminds me of my own brother and also kind of, maybe, when I was a kid I thought I would be like him, but because of the events and the fallout from my brother and everything else that happened in my life, I ended up where I am. So I do see something in Diggle that attracts me to him and I think he sees something in me that keeps him interested in me. But will we ever see eye to eye? No.
Who do you think wins in a fight, though?
Now this has been discussed on set, a lot.
I bet David takes that pretty personally.
Well, yeah! He’s like this little dude would never be able to beat me in a fight. Here’s how I see it: I see at as I will always have the upper hand, because in a fight, when you fight angry, you don’t stick to the game plan and you don’t fight smart. Diggle sees red when it comes to me and it comes to a fight situation. Deadshot stays calm, cool, and collected which is what makes him a good sniper, that’s what will keep him focused in a fight. Diggle is much bigger, much stronger, but Deadshot’s got some moves, man.
We’ve talked a lot about it, in hand to hand combat, they want to make him quicker, they want to make him more, like, Bruce Lee-esk, a lot kicks and stuff like that. I hope we get to see it, I don’t know how it’ll go, every time we’ve faced off so far, I’ve come out on type. I’m definitely the faster, more composed fighter, but he’s got the strength.
You really have this character down. You’re in his head, really.
I spend a lot of time with this guy, man! You know what I mean? Maybe it’s a bit of a blessing and a curse, because I have such big gaps between bringing him back to life on set. I wish I could play him more.
So how does this make you feel about the Suicide Squad movie, do you think it owes a thank you to how successfully you and the team have been on TV? And how about Will Smith taking over Deadshot?
I imagine that them pulling the trigger on doing the film has maybe a little bit to do with what we’re doing on TV and proving that fans are drawn to it. I really appreciate the Deadshot from comic books and the Suicide Squad stuff they were doing in the comic books. But it was kind of only for the hardcorers. It wasn’t, sort of, a known top notch DC book.
I’ve grown quite attached to it, the character and the squad. So for Will Smith to takeover Deadshot, it’s gonna be fun, man, because he’s gonna take the squad, and all the A-lsit stars, are gonna make the squad into a household name and give it the respect that it’s due, so that makes me really happy. I guess if you do look at it, as we proved it on TV and it graduates into film, it does kind of take away some of the stuff that we could have done because we’re sharing the property with the film, it does limit you. So there’s good things and bad things for it.
I think Will Smith is going to make a very interesting Deadshot so I can’t wait to see what he does. I do take is as a little bit of a compliment. I didn’t in the beginning, I didn’t think much, but the conversations I’ve had with people and stuff like that, we did our job on TV, we work hard. It is a compliment to say “Let’s go to the biggest level we can with it.” Definitely a pat on the back there.
Do you know if there’s any talks of a Suicide Squad spinoff show? Would you want to do that?
Yeah, I’d be into it, man! Like I said, I would love to do this character more. That’s my problem with it, there’s so much we can do, but there’s only so much we can do on Arrow. We can’t develop them into full capacity. I hear the buzz that goes on online and I hear people chirping around the background, stuff like that. It definitely was a possible, but I don’t know now because of the film. If it ever does happen, I’m all in, 100%, I’d love to do it. We just gotta wait, that ship is sailed for the time being, we just gotta wait and see what happens.
You think there’s a possibility of the Suicide Squad crossing over with The Flash?
I think so. Mainly because once Captain Boomerang showed up everybody’s minds went there. He one of the main Rogues to Flash from the comics and he’s also in most of the Suicide Squad stuff from the comics so, you know, I think that was a little bit of a teaser to that down the road.
That would be fun. We love those crossovers.
Yeah I would love that. I’m a fan of The Flash, I’ve been watching that since the pilot. Super fun show. It’s got a whole different feel than Arrow and I dig it.
You guys are all doing great work on CW. What about this Tomorrowland? Nobody really knows much about it, the trailers are kind of vague, and the synopsis is kind of vague, but what can you tell me about your role in it?
I can’t tell you much, man, they made me sign a bunch of stuff, it’s pretty tight-lipped. I can tell you this: unfortunately I didn’t get to work with George Clooney on the film. I have a really small role. I’m really hesitant to talk about films, man, because I worked on Godzilla, that latest film that came out. I worked on that for a couple of days for a couple of scenes and then we hit the cutting room floor with all our stuff. They edited us out- me and the other guy I worked with.
So, you can’t really jump the gun on films because you never really know what’s going to make the final cut on film stuff. So I’m hesitant talking about anything I do in the film world until I see the film, otherwise it just makes me look like an idiot, you know what I mean?
Yeah, I would be pretty bummed if I got to work on a film and then watched, just like, “What? Where am I?”
Yeah, I was kind of choked, mainly because I have a little nephew. He’s 5 years old and a huge Godzilla fan. He goes back and watches all the spinoff stuff from the Japanese movies with, like, all the other characters that come to fight Godzilla.
That’s a pretty hardcore fan.
Yeah, no, he’s really into it. We watch these videos all the time and when he found out Uncle Mike was gonna be in Godzilla he was really excited. So that’s what bummed me out more than anything. He knew I worked on it, he saw the Godzilla movie, and he just didn’t understand why. You know, he doesn’t comprehend all the stuff that goes into film, like, “What do you mean, he’s not in the movie?” It didn’t make any sense to him. It just bummed me out more than anything.
Michael Rowe's Deadshot returns to Arrow in the 17th episode this (third) season and Tomorrowland hits theatres May 22, 2015.