'Arrow' Star Rick Gonzalez on the Team's Return to Vigilante Life & Keeping Crossover Secrets (Exclusive)
By Meredith B. Kile
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you haven't watched Monday's new episode of Arrow, titled "The Longbow Hunters."
Team Arrow may have taken a plea deal to stay away from the superhero life -- but it's turning out to be easier said than done.
Monday's new episode of Arrow finds each of Oliver's (Stephen Amell) friends and former accomplices managing life on the outside -- to varying degrees of success -- as the unmasked Green Arrow languishes in Slabside Maximum Security Prison.
While Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Diggle (David Ramsey) clashed over the best way to track and take down big bad Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) and the villainous Longbow Hunters -- as the group attempted to steal a super-powered battery that could be modified to create a devastating weapon -- even more tension was growing amid Team Arrow, as the group struggled with staying away from their heroic alter egos while the threats to Star City grow more and more dire.
It seems that Rene (Rick Gonzalez) and Dinah (Julianna Harkavy) in particular, will continue to butt heads over the issue. Fans saw the hot-headed Rene back in his Mad Dog gear in the season seven premiere last week, much to the chagrin of Dinah, who is getting back to her roots on the other side of the law as a captain with the Star City Police.
"There’s going to be tension there," Gonzalez confirmed to ET's Philiana Ng at The CW Fall Launch Event, in partnership with #SeeHer. "Because he decides to suit up... that lends itself to who Rene is. He’s someone who does the right thing in terms of wanting to be a dad. But at the same time, to be a vigilante is pretty reckless, but that’s what we love about him."
"That clashes with Dinah, who’s now the police captain," he added. "She has to walk the straight and narrow. She has a different idea on how to help the city. There’s going to be friction there."
That said, the actor couldn't be more excited to explore the divides among Team Arrow's once tight-knit group.
"I’m excited for the season," Gonzalez raved. "I feel like this is a gigantic transitional season for Arrow. There’s a lot of things that are happening and I think it’s going to make for an exciting season."
"Season five was dear to me because that was the first season I showed up, but I also feel like we nailed it in so many ways, and I feel like [season] seven is going to challenge it," he continued.
Part of Rene's evolution in season seven includes him getting to spend more time with his daughter, Zoe (Eliza Faria), both as her dad and her trainer -- the semi-reformed vigilante has begun teaching boxing and other self-defense techniques at a local community center.
"I like the juxtaposition of having a character like Wild Dog who’s very reckless and dangerous, but is also loving and has a big heart but wants to protect his daughter," Gonzalez said of his family ties in the new season. "To me, it’s awesome because I relate. I have a 5-year-old little girl. Sometimes as an actor, you mirror the characters in moments that fit well. The work is so comfortable for me and to be a dad, to have a daughter, it’s very comforting."
Arrow dropped a shocking twist at the end of its season seven premiere last week, introducing a flash-forward storyline which follows Oliver's adult son, William (Ben Lewis), as he tracks his father's vigilante past around the world and back to the fated island Lian Yu. Showrunner Beth Schwartz confirmed last week that fans will be seeing more Arrow characters pop up in the future storyline, set around 2040, but couldn't go into detail about who might be appearing
"There’s so much territory to choose from," she explained. "Because we’ve opened it up so much, we have so much story we can tell. We can introduce something in the future and then you’re like, 'How the hell did that happen?' and then you’re going to be watching our present-day story like, 'Wait, when is this going to happen?' I think it just adds a lot to the story."
So, how would Rene feel if his future daughter turns out to be a vigilante just like him? "I think Rene would love that in a way," Gonzalez said of Zoe possibly following in Mad Dog's footsteps. "Rene would absolutely love his daughter to do that kind of stuff. That’s how he feels how he’d be helping. We should do that!"
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Fans saw more of the flash-forwards in Monday's episode, as William and Roy (Colton Haynes) searched for answers on Lian Yu -- which only ended up pointing them back towards Star City. Unfortunately, Gonzalez admits that even he has no idea what -- or who -- might be turning up in this uncertain future.
"I’m in the dark. A lot of us are in the dark. We only know what we’re supposed to," he noted. "There’s a lot of information I don’t know that’s happening, which is cool because then I get to watch it with you guys."
The actor is also sworn to secrecy regarding the upcoming crossover event with Arrow's sister shows, The Flash and Supergirl, but he did share that he was hoping for some scenes with the newest member of the expanded DC Comics : Ruby Rose's Batwoman.
"I would love to share a scene with Ruby Rose," Gonzalez said. "Wild Dog, in his first crossover shares screen time with Supergirl and Flash, and I thought that was really cool. So I think Wild Dog needs a scene with Batwoman. Like, would they get along? Would there be friction?"