On this week's episode of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, the team will spend their first significant amount of time outside of the post-Industrial era when it heads to the Old West.
As you might expect in a DC Comics adaptation, one of the first people they'll encounter there is Jonah Hex, played by Jonathon Schaech. DC's most iconic Western antihero, Hex has already had a much-maligned feature film based on his adventures -- and now we're going to find out that he's got a relationship with Rip Hunter, the inventor of the Time Sphere and leader of the Legends of Tomorrow.
ComicBook.com had a chanceto speak with Schaech about the episode, his hopes for Jonah's future (past?), and more.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. Schaech joins the show as Jonah Hex tomorrow night.
First things first, I guess. Did you have any background with this character? Did you know who he was before taking on the role?
I remember the movie, but my father was a Baltimore city police officer and was kind of a gunslinger himself. When I was growing up, he had given me two comic books. I can't remember the exact titles of them. I have some here. They're called The Weird Western Tales, DC's first line of western-type tales. I read Jonah Hex as I was growing up. I remember Jonah Hex distinctively.
I didn't have his action figure back then. Same thing with Sgt. Rock. He was part of that war stories or...they'd tell the tales. It was Jonah Hex but it was really about Westerns and war. My father got those kind of comic book stories for me as a boy so I still have them.
When that was going down, I got really excited. I read the breakdown to see what they wanted to do with him. Every time I saw Clint Eastwood in a western, he always reminded me of Jonah Hex, because he has that dry sense of humor and he kind of comes off the side of his mouth. Obviously Jonah has this scar of the demon, but there was a sense of humor that when I read the screenplay that I thought, "Man, that's Jonah. This is how he would be with this situation."
You mention the movie. Did you re-watch that film? Is there anything you could take away from that? I know not very many people loved it, but Brolin's a good actor.
He's a great actor. What I did was, I kind of had an idea and I looked at all the ways the character would speak in the comic books and the way they wrote him. They were pretty much very similar, you know with the twang, almost like there was a twang to him but not so hard-core. He doesn't say y'all and hold words like this for a really long time. He just talks with a pacing.
I did watch clips of Brolin to see how he did that. Also just for the effect, not that I'm a special effects artist, but when I got set in the chair I wanted to make sure that we had a unique take on it. Also to take that I kind of remember most true from when I grew up.
They were just fantastic. They had it down. Everyone was very excited on the team up there in Vancouver. They were so ready to go to make Jonah Hex something special.
Now I've got to ask, because when I was a kid, Jonah was, let's say a little unusual. There was a period in time where he traveled to the future and was a lawman on a weird, dystopian, apocalyptic world. Coming into this, has your Jonah ever time traveled before?
Yes. In the story he revealed that he understands time travel. That's all storyline. [Jonah and Rip] know each other. There's something that they have to resolve from the past. If Rip was there, he understands time travel a little bit. Jonah Hex does.
One of the things that I think really is interesting about Jonah as a character is that he's so incredibly adaptable that even when he's getting hit with these things for the first time he's just kind of like, "Well that's weird as hell. Moving on now."
Yeah. Yeah. That's the way I felt that he kind of was entertained by the whole notion of what these guys are coming from. When they would pull out the stuff that they had seen in previous episodes, Jonah's probably seeing it for the first time, he's kind of like, "Oh wow, let me try that out. Let's see what that does. That's fun."
"You think you're that tough, huh? Let's see how that plays out."
You mentioned humor. I think it's interesting, one of the things that whenever I mention Jonah Hex to hard-core comic book people, everybody loves his appearance on Justice League Unlimited, when he gets pulled into some big battle. Again, it kind of played on this idea that he time traveled before because somebody comes up to him with some big ass high-tech laser gun or something and he goes, "Nah, those things jam up all the time."
Yeah. The humor is very dry. His knowledge, beyond his years. It's almost like he's dealing with a bunch of youngsters. He's, you know, Jonah's pissed off all the time, but more than that he's just kind of grumpy. You know?
It's a bad word, grumpy, but he's just pissed. He looks like he's pissed, at least.
Now, other than Rip, is there somebody who you had a lot of fun, or you really liked the relationship of Jonah bouncing off somebody on the team?
Oh yeah. The Atom. Brandon's character. They just, his innocence, it was just perfect, fitting with Jonah. Here's this wisely, grisly character in Jonah Hex and then this, I hate to say it, but this Clark Kent-ish naivety.
It just played off each other very, very well. I had a lot of fun just playing off of his innocence. Those two are fun to watch. I can't wait to see that play out because I haven't seen that part.
Right. If given a chance, would you like to explore Jonah in more depth? If they come back in Season 2 and they're like, "Okay we want to do this crazy thing," are you all on board?
Yeah, absolutely. I want to explore Jonah as deep as they want to go. Someone had asked me if there's any back story behind the market theme and all that. There isn't, and he is such a complex character. In today's world of anti-heroes, where Dexter becomes the hero, he needs to be displayed that way. I think all of us are really interested more about the problems that these characters have. That's why we relate to superheroes and to comic books, because they're flawed. Just like we are.
The mutant is kind of mutated in some way or another and we all have our own sense of identity, and that's how we can relate with these guys. Jonah has a lot of complexity and I know a lot of people out there ... I haven't met anybody that's not interesting in this world.
Obviously as soon as people saw the wanted poster in the pilot they started to speculate about seeing Jonah. Now that we know he and Rip have a relationship, is there a backstory to why that poster is actually hanging up in the time lab?
It's just like the comic books. He was a lawman-outlaw. In some places he was absolutely wanted. In other places he was the guy getting the bad guys and bringing them in. He was always...God, this guy was always blamed for things that he didn't do. You know?
It's funny because I feel like Jonah Hex has an element of that...it's like he's mean and ugly so he's guilty. You got to see a lot of those stories in the early days where it was like he was redeeming himself for something or another.
Yeah constantly. Yep. He did that for others too. He always stood up for the people that needed somebody that was tough enough to stand up for them. He would be that guy. To his detriment sometimes.
You personally, as Jonathon, do you have any favorite westerns that you kind of re-watched to kind of get yourself in the head space for this?
I watched The Unforgiven.
For me that's note perfect for Jonah because he had that same kind of sense of exasperation, I think, that Clint Eastwood had. In The Unforgiven it wasn't anger. It was mostly just like, "Jesus, we're doing this again?"
Exactly. Yeah so so I would just bark at them. He's probably going, "ahh, you idiot."