Brandon Routh is making the case for Ray Palmer!
Introduced at the start of Arrow’s third season, the charming, fast-talking and super-witty Palmer Technologies billionaire breathes a different energy into The CW comic-book show. Not weighed down by the vigilante lifestyle or a cursed family name, he has a perspective and approach on life far different from that of Oliver Queen (who will be M.I.A. for a while). And, he can hold his own against Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards)!
Routh is well aware of the mark Ray is making on Arrow (there's even talk of a potential spin-off!), especially when it comes to the passionate “Olicity” fans – and he has to be. Routh has been a part of a major TV love triangle before (see: Chuck), but this one may take the cake.
“I’ve been in that position before,” the 35-year-old star tells ETonline in a sit-down interview at the winter Television Critics Association press tour. “I was prepared [this time around], but it comes with the territory. Any time anybody is talking about the character in that respect is positive because that means I’m eliciting emotion – whether it be positive or negative. I’m getting a rise out of somebody.”
Things have been progressing between Ray and Felicity, both on a professional and personal level. After persuading Felicity to work for him at Palmer Technologies (formerly Queen Consolidated), the two partners have become a formidable and compatible team inside and outside the office.
“Ray only has good intentions with Felicity. Obviously he has no knowledge of her relationship with Oliver,” Routh says. “It doesn’t make him a bad guy really – it may make people not like him because they know what he doesn’t know.”
Comparing Oliver to Ray is almost unfair, the Superman Returns star notes, as both characters come from completely different sets of circumstances.
“Oliver lives in the dark, literally; he’s a trained assassin and killer and all those things are a part of his life. He’s seen a darker side of the world than Ray has. Being involved in fighting crime may change how Ray sees things. The vicious death and murder of his wife changed how he sees the world,” he says. “He’s still a very glass half full type of a guy. [Felicity]’s attracted to that lightness, and his naivete, I suppose, is attractive.”
And by the way, Routh knows some see his character’s incessant “pinging” of Felicity’s phone as verging on “stalkerish” – something executive producer Marc Guggenheim has also addressed.
“Ray gets accused of being a stalker, or having a stalkerish mentality, but I just see that he’s a smart businessman and he’s going after the best brain in the room and the best brain around that he knows,” the actor defends. “It’s not like he’s sexually threatening Felicity at the beginning of his search. He wants the best brain to help him achieve his goal, which is to save the city. Those are all good intentions, and it’s only in episode seven [“Draw Back Your Bow”] when they have the kiss where he goes, ‘Oh wow, it’s more than this,’ because he was fooling himself about it.”
As Ray marches toward becoming the Atom, his agenda becomes clearer and clearer as the season continues on, and it may not be a bad one.
“We start to understand why he’s doing what he’s doing, and there are a couple of conversations between Felicity that will happen in the next few episodes where you understand on a deeper level that he’s not here just because he’s a playboy billionaire wanting to make a cool suit, fight crime and wanting to be a hero,” Routh teases. “He felt helpless and he couldn't help the woman he loved most in the world. He’s there to defend her honor and her memory and everyone else out there who’s helpless and needs a hand, he’s there to be the savior.”
As a result, Ray and Felicity’s connection “deepens,” Routh says, and she’ll soon realize that what Ray is doing “stems from a real sincere place.” But, she’ll face a unique quandary once he introduces her to the Atom suit with the hopes she’ll be a part of his pet project – “something she may or may not want to do.”
As for Starling City’s crime problem post-Oliver’s death, it’ll be “open season” for criminals in Starling City – a fact of life Ray will have to confront as he becomes more “involved with city politics.” Something tells us Ray will be wishing for the return of the Arrow sooner rather than later.
Do you think Felicity will help Ray with his Atom project? Tell us your thoughts by tweeting Philiana Ng at @insidethetube, and don’t forget to use that #ETnow hashtag!
Arrow returns Wednesday at 8 p.m. on The CW.