Arrow's Tom Amandes on The Calculator's Redemptive Arc

Can The Calculator be redeemed?That's a question set to be explored in the next couple of episodes [...]


Can The Calculator be redeemed?

That's a question set to be explored in the next couple of episodes of Arrow, as guest star Tom Amandes returns as Noah Kutter -- the supervillain known as The Calculator and Felicity Smoak's father.

After betraying Team Arrow and landing himself in jail the last time around, The Calculator is apparently going to try to see whether he can convince Felicity that there's still good in her old man -- and in so doing, unbury some old family skeletons.

Amandes joined to discuss the next couple of episodes.

This is the first time you've come onto Arrow and not been shrouded in mystery. Is that fun?

Well, each time I've come on, I've learned a little bit more about Noah, and so has the audience. What's been fun and gratifying about these next two episodes is that you get a little better sense of the family dynamics of the Kuttler/Smoak family.

You've got a broad resume, but is a character like this fun because you can let your evil out and just be a jerk?

[Laughs] I've played a fair amount of jerks of late, and it's a blast. As my wife will be the first to tell you, I can definitely channel that without any kind of problem. But it's always fun to jump into the psyche of -- I hesitate to use the word "villain" but there it is. Obviously a villain doesn't believe he's a villain; a villain believes that they are making the right choices based on all the stuff that's happened, and obviously Noah is no different.

What's really intriguing about this next stretch is that you get a little sense of how some of that might have gone down in Noah's family -- and also that while it's been convenient for Noah to take the blame over the years, maybe that's not true.

One of the interesting things about the relationship you had with Felicity is that your character has the gift of seeming very genuine before he sticks the knife in her back. Will we see that continued here?

Yes. I think that he is a person constantly at war with himself -- with his two sides -- and ultimately, as estranged as he's been from Felicity, there's a huge part of him that really wants to renew a connection there. You'll definitely see some of that coming up.

Being one of the few people who aren't active on social media, do you get a sense of the fan response to the show?

I did catch some of that, but you're right: I have, just for my own sanity, backed off a lot of the social media stuff. But even still, it's remarkable to me how strong the feelings are.

It's not a surprise to me that there would be strong feelings around Felicity, for a lot of reasons: she's delightful, she's beautiful, her character is such a breath of fresh air every time she walks into the scene; she just has a different way of approaching the whole world of Arrow. To see some of the wrinkles of her personal life, yeah, it's going to be of huge interest to the fans.

Did you do a lot of research for the role?

Yes, and [the character] is very different, and I knew that coming into it. Honestly, I'm finding out about Noah as the scripts come in and of course, they're very well-guarded secrets. It's always fascinating.

That said, if the time comes that somebody want you to dress up like a giant calculator, would you do that for Greg [Berlanti], or is that a bridge too far?

[Laughs] Absolutely! I think I need an outfit!

The costume design on the show is so fantastic that I almost want to see what they'd do with it.

Yeah! Why not? Absolutely....And yes, the wardrobe is amazing and powerful. I mean, when you see these folks up close, it's pretty stunning, actually. It makes a huge impact.

One light-hearted question: Is it fair to say that the Calculator would ruin the life of Governor Reston [from Scandal]?

[Laughs] That's right! That was an awful character!

That's part of the interesting thing about Noah, though, because he's the guy who's kinda evil, but he's going after the more evil. He has kind of a Libertarian streak.

Absolutely. It's grounded in a real idealism that of course at some point got messed with, and maybe tweaked him in a direction that hasn't been as altruistic -- but absolutely. I think you'll see very clearly in these next couple of episodes that he's willing to set aside lots of his own axes to grind to do everything he can for the greater good.

Last time around, he basically tried to blow up the city --

Oh, I never would have gone through with it!

[Laughs] Do you think Felicity has given him some perspective on the fact that there are ways to go outside the law and change the world without necessarily putting so many people at risk?

Yes, I think so. I'm finding these things out about Noah just shortly before I shoot them, but I think that you're right: I think there's sort of an awakening of a moral compass there, but he wrestles with it.

I think there's some fun stuff that you'll see in the upcoming episodes when you see him wrestling with those sides of him that suddenly take over, and suddenly he's done another one of those things and "I don't know why!"

As an actor, is it a different challenge to recur in these short little bursts where you're doing an hour and a half here and an hour and a half there?

Yes, and there are times when that can be kind of frustrating. Certainly on a show like Arrow, the writers have so many mouths to feed, so many different characters to keep going and to flesh out. You realize that as you go into this. I am currently doing I guess five recurring roles or something like that, which has been really fun, quite honestly. It gives me a chance to do wildly different roles and it's actually been a really fun stretch for me. Arrow is a delightful opportunity where they'll give me a call and I'll get to go up to Vancouver for a few weeks and play in the superhero world for a while. That said, there are down sides to that as well, but it's just so much damn fun it's ridiculous.