This week's DC's Legends of Tomorrow saw the team head to the Old West to track down an alien in the timeline and as is the case with many Legends adventures, that meant coming into contact with some interesting historical figures. In "Stressed Western", the Legends meet up with Bass Reeves, a man who in real life was the first Black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River. DC fans may recognize the character from his brief mention in HBO's Watchmen where he served as the childhood role model for Will Reeves, the man who eventually became Hooded Justice. In this week's Legends, the character is portrayed by David Ramsey and is, in context, presented as an ancestor of his Arrow character, John Diggle. Ramsey, who also directs "Stressed Western," recently spoke with ComicBook.com about bringing the character to life in the Arrowverse.
"Well, I think, like Watchmen, it's probably the similar audiences in the respect that they may or may not be as educated about who Sheriff Bass Reeves was within history. And obviously, Watchmen is a different tone in how they handle Bass Reeves is just a totally different tone," Ramsey said. "But what I do like about Legends is that that Bass fit within the kind of irreverent tone that Legends has. And I think for our audience it's nice when you hear Nick Zano's character say, 'Hey, Bass Reeves wasn't a bad guy. He was a sheriff. And how did this thing happen?' I think for a certain amount of audience, they'll say, 'Oh David Ramsey is playing this character Bass Reeves. Who is that?' They'll look him up and there's kind of this infiltration of more knowledge about this fantastic historical figure that otherwise, maybe wouldn't have been known by the audience."
Ramsey continued, "So I think that's in a big broad sense, I think that's what any time we touch within the Arrowverse, anytime when we touch on these historical characters that would otherwise be a little more obscure our audience. I think that's always fantastic. That's always great. And I appreciate when I was pitched, 'Hey, John Diggle is going to appear across the universe.' And to your point, my first thought was, okay, we'll get into the glowing green thingy of it all. And everyone was, yes. Superman & Lois showrunners were yes. The Flash showrunners were, yes. Supergirl, yes. Batwoman, yes. Legends, let's do something different with John Diggle. Let's kind of within our universe, not touch on that. Let's say that Bass Reeves was someplace in John Diggle's history, in the past. He's related to them in some sort of way. But we don't spell that out and write that out, but obviously, that's the story we tell them."
Ramsey went on to explain that by taking this approach with his guest appearance, it still fits within Diggle's story, just in a "pure Legends fashion", one that subverts what many fans thought when it was revealed that Ramsey would appear on the series.
"And that to me is in pure, Legends fashion," he said. "And it kind of fits within this storytelling of John Diggle in a way the other shows don't. So yes, to your point, people, they're in a time ship. Obviously, they're going to encounter and maybe some space cops that Diggle is a part of. And of course, my mind went there too. But when I was pitched this that, no, we want to talk about something else. My reaction was, awesome. In pure Legends fashion, we're not going to talk about what you think we're going to talk about. We're going to do something completely different. I think that's a lot of fun."
Since he wasn't portraying Diggle, Ramsey said he got to create a whole new voice for a new character, letting him not only hopefully inspire people to learn more about Bass Reeves, but entertain them while doing so.
"You know, you get to create this new voice. I'm all about voice. John Diggle has a very specific sound, very specific voice. And it was fun to kind of create this new voice that kind of came out of my body in Bass Reeves. That's always fun as an actor, just to kind of play with these techniques of creating a new character," Ramsey said. "But, to your point, I think it was in this universe. I'm not on the Watchmen. This isn't some movie of the week where I'm recreating or I'm creating Bass Reeves. This is what's in the Arrowverse. So to kind of do it within this is a real special treat. And it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun to just put on, you know as an actor you're having fun, you're playing a cowboy. But it's John Diggle. No, I mean Bass Reeves."
He added, "So it's a different kind of spin. It's a Legends spin. And I think that's fun. And then I think as much as we could, we handled the character with a certain amount of respect and with a certain amount of reverence within the confines of the irreverent show Legends is. And I think just enough where people will be curious about who he is and maybe do some research on their own, which I think is, for me, kind of the ultimate goal besides entertaining the hell out of people."
DC's Legends of Tomorrow airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW.