Arrow's Stephen Amell on the 'Most Nefarious' Malcolm Merlyn, Meeting the Real Deathstroke
Stephen Amell, who plays the freshman hit’s titular vigilante and his not-so-mild-mannered alter ego, likens this week’s “really cool” outing to a movie, saying, “It’s like nothing that we’ve had so far on the show visually.” And on the action front, Oliver and Helena “get right into it,” now that they’re privy to each other’s secret identities.
“She and I had started smooching, and we pick up not right where we left off but a short time after,” Amell laughs. “I’m trying to show her a different way [of exacting justice], but she is resisting. And she vacillates throughout the entire episode between trying my way and just being too hellbent on revenge.”
Last week’s Arrow also featured another “unmasking “of sorts, revealing that the Well-Dressed Man who’s been taking meetings with Oliver’s mother Moira is Malcolm Merlyn – aka the father of Oliver’s best bud Tommy.
“It makes sense now, right?” Amell asks. “I don’t think anyone guessed it, but the second you see them together, it’s like, ‘Of course!’”
The question now becomes: Will Malcolm (played by John Barrowman) evolve into the infamous Merlyn of DC Comics lore, and thus be positioned as Arrow’s archenemy? Or is that his son’s fate?
“We start off in the pilot with Tommy being … a little bit suspicious [of Oliver], and we haven’t seen that [since],” Amell notes. “And one of the things I like about this episode is… if he were eventually going down a darker path, this is a nice way to sort of push a character in one direction.”
As for the well-dressed Malcolm himself, “He’s certainly the most nefarious character we’ve met so far,” Amell assures. “We don’t know a ton about him, just that whatever that symbol means in [Robert Queen's] book, and however that list was constructed, he’s not necessarily behind it but he’s the closest to the center we’ve gotten.
“He’s obviously the biggest threat that Oliver has,” Amell continues, “which is ironic, because they’ve never come together. So far.”
Also on the horizon for Oliver is a flashback (at least…) to his first meeting on the island with Slade Wilson aka the man who would become the masked assassin Deathstroke. Filling the ominous role is Manu Bennett (aka Crixus of Starz’s Spartacus series).
“It’s nice to know who’s playing Deathstroke — but it’s not necessarily what you think,” teases Amell, who quickly spotted the dummy name used in the script — “Isaac Holloway” — then confirmed the truth with EP Marc Guggenheim. “I texted Marc and go, ‘Um… It’s Slade Wilson, isn’t it?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh yeah,’” the actor shares with comic-book fan enthusiasm. “They told me about this idea that they had sometime around Episode 3, so I’m glad we’re sticking to those plans.”
Having auditioned to replace the late Andy Whitfield as Spartacus opposite Bennett in 2010, Amell promises that Oliver’s first encounters with Slade Wilson will be “intense.” (Whether or not the CW series sticks with this backstory, per DC canon, Slade was a genetically engineered “supersoldier” for the United States army.)
“He’s meeting me on the island when I’m far less capable, so us ‘mixing it up’ might be a nice way to put it,” Amell previews. “More like ‘beating down’!”