Rowe, who debuted in the show's first season, has been one of the most frequently-recurring villains on the series a-- although more recently he's been essentially an uneasy ally of Team Arrow, especially following the establishment of the Suicide Squad last year.
Rowe joined us to talk about Arrow, the Suicide Squad movie, Harley Quinn's role in everything from comics to TV and more.
It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it...
So I have to ask: As soon as Deadshot was announced for Suicide Squad, I thought to myself that this has to be the second time you've had to really focus on standing out as an actor and almost branding yourself against surprisingly similar competition. Having the same name as Mike Rowe at a time when he was wildly successful, is that weirder than having Will Smith play your character in a movie at the same time you're doing Arrow?
You know what, man? That Mike Rowe/Dirty Jobs thing? The difficult part was when I started acting. I was a musician for ten years, and I've been acting for maybe five.
So Mike Rowe has that name on lockdown on the Internet, so I had to start using the name Michael. No big deal. However, when I approached a new cell phone company about getting a new cell phone package and I told them my name was Mike Rowe, he asked if I was Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs.
I was like "That's kind of a stupid question, he has no way of knowing." So I was like, "Yeah, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs. And dude, I got the best cell phone plan on the market [laughs]. So it has its perks, too, man!
But the Will Smith thing is cool, you know? I think that we work really hard on our show. For them to graduate the Suicide Squad to top honors, A-list celebrities playing the roles? You've got to take that as a bit of a compliment. The only thing is, I hope people don't treat TV actors as second class citizens. Somebody like Will Smith, he got his start on TV, too. So I'm sure he understands it and he gets it. So I take all of that as a compliment.
I'm excited to see what Will Smith does with the character. It's interesting casting, they're putting a lot of cash into it, a lot of focus. We'll see what happens!
See, you put a lot more thought into that answer than I did into my jokey question.
[Laughs] It's just how I feel, man!
Yeah, there is a lot going on. You've got those two things, plus you've got Arrow and Atom facing off for the first time. So yeah, it's a jam-packed episode.
I feel like it's a good setup, though, you know? They always do that thing on Arrow where finally, the gang can take a deep breath and everything is nice and let's sit in this moment -- and then smack! You get kicked in the side of the head. So they're all having fun for the moment. Everything's good, there's a wedding, there's a celebration and guess who shows up to spoil the party? Deadshot.
Maybe he's a little disappointed he didn't get invited to the wedding, but he definitely relishes in the moment of spoiling the party. He's not the type to want to discuss his emotions and get on with all this lovey-dovey stuff, so he's happy to say "Hey, that's not real life. This is real life. We've got to go, we've got to do our job, we've got a mission, snap out of it. This is how life is. Life is brutal, life is dark, so follow me into the darkness."
Since we don't know much about the mission for the Squad this time around, I've been wondering: Is there any connection between what you guys are doing here and what the Squad was up to in the Arrow Season 2.5 comics with Sara Lance?
It links into it in that it's an exotic destination and there's a lot of hostages, but it's not directly linked to the comic. It's a whole different thing; it centers around this kind of U.S. political figure who -- I don't know what details I can give you and what I can't -- but he drags us over there and things aren't what they seem and it ends up being total chaos and mayhem. But we are in an exotic location and there's a lot of civilian lives at stake. That's what ties into the comic book.
Other than that, there's a lot of twists and turns and surprises. We got Cupid that has joined the Squad, and she's all kinds of crazy. She has in the past had her affections zeroed in on Oliver Queen and the Arrow but we have a little situation where Deadshot jumps in and saves her and she kind of focuses her attention to Deadshot after that. There's a lot of really interesting scenes that take place as a result.
With Cupid, I almost feel like they have the opportunity to tell some of the stories they would tell with Harley Quinn in the comics. Is it gratifying to be able to show something to viewers who, of course, have been asking about Harley since last year's surprise cameo?
Yeah. It's really fun, man. The reason that the Harley and Floyd thing worked in the comic is because of that dynamic. There's a lot of red tape that goes on with being able to get certain high-end characters on our show. It would have been nice to do it with Harley, but to have somebody to step in to play that role, to create that dynamic to tell those stories is very important because there's such potential there.
We're drawing from the comics in a lot of ways to do the stuff that we do on Arrow. We want to be inspired by the comics but it's going to be a little boring if you're just ripping it right out of the pages. So it's kind of inspired by something that happens in the comics, then we put our own spin on it, our own twist. The characters are inspired by but they're not directly out of the pages of the comics. There's some wiggle room there and some real interesting scenes to play around with and stuff like that. I think it's great that they get to tell some of these stories because it's just two interesting characters that get to come together in these kind of unlikely, romantic kind of situations, you know?
Yeah, I feel really lucky when it comes to that. It feels really organic with the development of Deadshot.
When the show first started and I knew they were going for this dark kind of vibe, I knew they wanted to be original and so they had this character. When I first started playing him, I went from the information they gave me directly from the show to start building off of. Then I dipped into the comics a little bit to see what made this guy tick and what his history was -- what the origin of the character was, the stuff that happened to him as a kid.
When you're talking about these villainous characters, they're not born evil. Some of them are, and then they evolve into these supervillains but that can be boring. You need to dig into their history and you need to find out what that moment was that switched them, that damaged them. Because I knew Deadshot was just damaged, he wasn't evil. So as you start to develop the character, you start to have this play back and forth, the writers start to see how you're playing it and then that inspires the writers to take him in a certain direction and there's a back and forth. You feel like you're creating something together and it's more organic; you're not just doing an impression of a character. So I'm really fortunate to have that opportunity.
Do you know what longer term arc your character has? Do you know when the Squad is coming, or are you in the dark at any given time?
The only thing I can tell you is that I'm not under contract with the show. My job's very exciting; I get a phone call, I spring into action. There's not a lot of meetings happening. They trust me, I trust them. I never know when I'm coming up, I get a heads-up a couple of episodes before and we make it happen. it's very exciting, I kind of like it that way. It's not too premeditated.
Obviously the Deadshot story has potential beyond just the Squad because of his connection to Diggle's past, and to H.I.V.E. Will we get a little movement on that soon?
You will definitely hear the name "H.I.V.E." As far as the potential it has is enormous. I feel like it will be explored, maybe not anytime soon. This is something that is long-term arc stuff that they've been kind of poking around and revisiting.
I hope it happens sooner than later. That stuff's really interesting. Between Diggle, his brother and Deadshot, the role he plays in it, it's a really good way of bringing out some of Deadshot's truths and helping the audience understand Floyd Lawton a little bit more, which is important for me.
I like those little moments, and there's quite a few of them in this episode. You get to finally see why he acts the way he does, what makes this guy tick. We had some really challenging scenes actually because somebody like Deadshot, who I've played a certain way, kind of hardened and crusted over and to dip into his backstory a little bit and figure out what he was like and how he acted before all this trauma and these events and imagine him a little softer, a little more human, that took a lot of work and we had a lot of good scenes that we worked through. I'm excited for everybody to see that.