‘Arrow’s’ Michael Rowe Chats with DKN

This past weekend at Motor City Comic Con, I had the honor and privilege of meeting actor Michael Rowe. Many a DKN reader should no doubt recognize him from The CW’s Arrow, on which he played the ambiguous villain Floyd Lawton/ Deadshot on various episodes spanning the first three seasons. Fans instantly fell in love with Rowe’s nuanced portrayal of the deadliest sniper in the DC Universe. How could they not?

Michael was kind of enough to take some time out from a busy weekend of signing autographs to answer a few questions. It was definitely cool to pick his brain as to how he approached the Deadshot character and learn a few interesting pieces of trivia. You couldn’t find a nicer guy to carry out a contract.

Michael Rowe

DKN: When you first showed up on Arrow, did you know it was going to be a recurring role or did you think it was going to be a one-shot deal?

Michael Rowe: When I first showed up on Arrow, they told me that I was playing a sniper named Finn and I just thought I was gonna be one and done. Then I go to try on my wardrobe and as I’m meeting crew members everybody’s calling me “Deadshot” and I’m like “you got the wrong dude, I’m playing a guy named Finn.” Then they brought me in to see my costume and that’s when I actually found out that I was playing Deadshot. I saw the eyepiece, they had all the comic books out, they had all the weapons there and it kinda blew my mind. Then my agent had a conversation with somebody and they said it’s a possibility of recurring.

When I got shot through the face with an arrow, I’m like “I guess it’s one and done.” Then all the fans of the show on the internet started going “this is Deadshot! He doesn’t die that easily! This is bullshit!” Everybody is starting to say “well, if you watch the scene, you can see that his jugular vein is still flexing, he’s not dead.” There’s all these theories. So the producers, they pay attention to that stuff, right? They listen to the fans. I even think the whole “Olicity” thing is ’cause the fans wanted it, so they started writing towards it. So they listen to what people have to say about the show and try to work it all in. So eventually they make a plan to bring me back.

I talked to a producer about it. He said: “we had options of how much CGI blood to put in when you got shot. It was a big pool around your head, a little trickle, or none. And as soon as we saw the footage of how you played the character, we decided to go with none to leave it wide open for you to come back. We knew we would bring you back, we just didn’t know when.” I think it was episode 13 or 16 later on in the season that I came back in. So I thought it was one, but it very quickly turned into… I got word that “you’re gonna be back and be back regularly, semi-regularly.”

DKN: In Deadshot’s first appearance he was a more straightforward “black hat” villain. Was it more rewarding as an actor to see him developed as a “grey hat” in your subsequent appearances?

MR: Yeah. For me personally, if you’re playing a villainous type person, you as an actor gotta be able to have a sympathy for him, you know what I mean? You gotta know why he does the things he does. I never viewed him as a bad guy. I always assumed he was a damaged person. It’s funny that some of the professional wrestlers are here like Rowdy Roddy Piper. I was a huge wrestling fan, of those ’80s characters and I always loved the guys that didn’t play nice with anybody. They weren’t a clear cut good guy or a clear cut bad guy – they were on their own team. Macho Man, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and all those guys. So I knew Deadshot was that kind of a person. I always play him as his true comic background of how he accidentally killed his own brother. And so even if he doesn’t know it, when he comes across another person like Arrow or Diggle, he kinda sticks it to them. He’s that sort of guy. He says what other people think, he just doesn’t care. Really, he misses his brother and he’s sort of looking for somebody who’s on his level to hang out with or bond with or kill people with or whatever the case may be. It was very slight, but even in the first appearance where I played against Arrow, I’m like “you’re just like me, man. Let’s team up and take out everybody instead of going against each other.” That’s how I always played it with Diggle and with Arrow. There was an underlined respect and kind of like an admiration of those characters.


DKN: I believe that Smallville was the first to do a live action Suicide Squad, but no offense to SmallvilleArrow did it better and it was probably viewed by more people. With the movie on the way, what’s it like to be a part of what was likely a gateway for mainstream audiences to be introduced to the Suicide Squad as an ensemble?

MR: First of all, the hilarious part of all that is my first acting coach was Bradley Stryker, who played Deadshot on Smallville. So it’s kinda like master/ student. Yeah, it’s so weird. To have the opportunity to bring it to the masses is an honor. I didn’t grow up reading Deadshot comics or anything. I knew who he was. My brother was more into it than me, but when I started researching the character and gong back and reading it, I fell in love with the character, the writing, that team of misfits in the Suicide Squad. The villains and the dynamic of how these crazy people interact is such good storytelling. So it’s an honor, man, to have the opportunity, to have the ability and for the producers to allow me to build it the way I see it, you know what I mean? They never really pulled the reins on any ideas that I had for the character. They let me interpret it and then do it the way I thought it could fit with the history and the comics, but do something fresh for this new style they wanted to apply to the show, which was kind of this Dark Knight, grounded in reality TV version of a superhero show. We found it somewhere in there and it seemed to work really well. We worked our butts off to do that and for people to respond to it the way they have means the world to me.

Arrow airs Wednesdays on The CW.

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