Very few freshman shows thrived in the 2012-2013 season, but Arrow's triumphs should not just be relegated to first season successes as The CW superhero saga could easily hold its own with anything on network television. Bold storytelling mixed with marvelous mythology and one of the most dynamic casts on television not only produced the single best new series of 2012, but has made Arrow one of my most anticipated of 2013!
For those of you who made the colossal mistake of ignoring its freshman year, you're in luck because Arrow: The Complete First Season hits DVD on September 16, chock-a-block with fun bonus features. To celebrate the release, ETonline caught up with star David Ramsey to talk about Diggle's journey from pilot to finale, the surrogate family he's building and get a couple of "sinister" season two teases!
ETonline: Looking back on season one, what are your big takeaways?
David Ramsey: The formation of a hero. Someone made a very important point when they said this show is not called The Green Arrow because Oliver's not a hero yet. He's Arrow. He's a vigilante. He's an assassin. He's Hamlet. So I think making Diggle his mentor, bringing Felicity in as the tech wiz and killing Tommy helped form him in season one. Those things helped push him towards becoming the hero we will see in season two. For me, the big takeaway was the formation of The Green Arrow, and that's what this second season is about.
ETonline: Judging from the pilot, I doubt many would have thought that Diggle would pretty much become the second lead on Arrow. Was that the plan the producers laid out when you were cast?
Ramsey: They had a very concise and clear vision of where they planned to take Diggle, and told me he would be an integral part in the formation of this hero while also going on his own journey. Both of these men have problems forming attachments and are war-weary to a certain degree. Diggle's adjustment to killing and his adjustment to what it means to administer justice, while figuring out how to define justice, are some of the biggest things that have helped Oliver become the hero he is now becoming in season two. The writers always had a very clear idea of how Diggle helps form our hero and they shared it with me from the very beginning. That's why Diggle found out Oliver's secret in the very beginning.
ETonline: That's how Diggle changed Oliver, how do you think Oliver changed Diggle?
Ramsey: I think Diggle has always been a man that thrives when he has a sense of purpose; when he's helping. It's one of the reasons why he became a soldier in the first place. When he left the military he became a little lost in his sense of purpose. How can he fulfill this sense of honor and duty now? I think when he saw Oliver, he thought, "There's a brother." His brother Andy was killed by Deadshot, and I think Diggle sees Oliver and thinks "This is the brother I can save." He sees a wayward soul and a kindred spirit. He thinks Oliver's misguided in his sense of duty, so Diggle assumed the mantle of older brother in a way he would have, or did, with his literal blood brother Andy. Oliver gives Diggle that sense of purpose and duty again. He's serving again. He's doing something right.
ETonline: If Oliver is a surrogate brother one would assume Diggle sees Felicity as a sister. Therefore is Team Arrow the surrogate family Diggle will now have to protect at any cost?
Ramsey: You're absolutely right. You've hit the nail on the head. This is his surrogate family, this is the family Diggle did not have. I think these two men are after the same thing. In the first season you saw they had diametrically opposed views of how to protect their families from evil, but they have the same sense of family, the same sense of honor, the same sense of duty. Diggle has a very clear sense of creating a family unit with Felicity and Oliver, and we all know Diggle will be the man to jump on the grenade and there are no two people he'd do that quicker for than Oliver and Felicity.
ETonline: Team Arrow's goal was always to protect Starling City. But in the finale they didn't completely do that. What excites you about being on a show that's willing to let its heroes fail in the final hour?
Ramsey: Listen, sometimes, in the beginning of a character, you need huge, cathartic experiences that ultimately compel the hero to become the hero. Tommy's death was a part of that, the destruction of The Glades was a part of that. In a very personal and selfish way, I read the end of the script every week in hopes that Diggle doesn't become a part of that necessary catharsis [laughs]. I applaud the writers, and even now, in season two, our jaws drop every week when we read these scripts. These stories are incredibly brave and you can't do anything but applaud the writers for pushing the hero in these unique directions and leaving no stone unturned for making this a compelling experience for all involved.
ETonline: Looking at season two, what are you excited for the fans to see?
Ramsey: The bad guys, 100 percent. The formation of the axis of evil in season two that Team Arrow will face. How Oliver makes the adjustment now that Tommy has died, The Glades have been destroyed, his mother's been imprisoned and The List has been compromised. I'm excited for the audience to see what that means to Oliver in how he continues the crusade. All these things are very exciting, but really, I think the audience will be very, very excited about the formation of these very capable bad guys.
ETonline: Amell recently posted a photo of you two, Manu Bennett and Michael Jai White that was captioned "We had to shoot this in landscape mode so we didn't crop out Ramsey's gigantic arm." Diggle has to be someone who could believably protect Oliver, and also go toe-to-toe with him. Obviously both you and Stephen are in amazing shape, but did the introduction of stronger bad guys change the way you approached Diggle's physicality in season two?
Ramsey: When you have somebody like Michael Jai White coming in, another body in our entertainment industry that is just unreal, there is some of that sitting in the back of your head saying "Put down the cookie, Michael Jai White is coming." [laughs] But it's not just season two, Stephen has really set the bar. He is just a physical specimen. So there's a sense of keeping up, but at the same time, there's a sense of honoring this character. Even without Stephen, Michael and other guys who are in excellent shape, this is Diggle. He's a three-tour Afghanistan veteran who is in supreme condition, end of story. Do I feel an obligation to step it up in season two? Sure. I want you guys to see something you haven't before, but that would have been there no matter what. It's just a testament to who Diggle has become as a result of the fans. I mean, Diggle is now officially part of the DC universe, so I want to be true to who we created for the fans.
Arrow: The Complete First Season hits DVD on September 16 while season two premieres October 9.