Arrow, Neal McDonough


Happy Arrow day!

Our favorite vigilante violence party may be back on TV after that hellish hiatus that some call summer and we may still be jumping with joy, but things in Star City are far less than happy at the moment.

Oliver and Felicity are well and good (finally!) but there's a menace roaming the streets, recruiting new bad guys and using the Force (or something) to torture people.

Damien Darhk is a villain unlike any that Arrow has ever had, and that was clear from the moment he walked into that city officials meeting in last week's premiere. He's bigger, funnier and possibly more evil than any other Star City bad guy before him. He's also sticking around for a while, and will have a hand in pretty much all evil-doing in a season that is already promising some incredibly high stakes.

E! News talked to Neal McDonough about playing the new big bad, and found out a few very worrying tidbits about what's to come for all the Star City citizens we've come to know and love.  

E! News Can you talk a bit about the notes you got from the producers, and what your goal was in playing Damien?

Neal McDonough: We always said we were trying to make him more Lex Luthor-y, rather than just dark, because for me, my wheelhouse isn't black and white, it's the grey area in between. So for Damien, it's a comic book thing, so I get to put the comedy in as much as possible, make him funny in a really absurd situation. A couple of episodes from now, I put my hand in this guy's chest and kill three guys, and then quickly after that I'm like, oh, I could do this all day.

I try to infuse as much comic book comedy into the character, you know, like [Jack] Nicholson did with the Joker and [Gene] Hackman did with Lex Luthor. So I'm trying to make the same thing with Damien Darhk, where you can't wait to see Damien come back on the screen, because he's just going to be crazy. There are times where I'm just enjoying punishing people so much and then there are moments that I have to get it done because I'm getting impatient, and I just want to throttle people. There's so many sides to Damien, but in all of it there's one true agenda to rule the world, and no one's going to stop me.



E! News: Does Damien have any redeeming qualities?

NM: Halfway through the season, you find out something about Damien: that he actually does have a soul. We'll go into why Damien turned into who he is. We're flashing back to why Damien's so evil and so determined to crush the world. He does have some heart in there somewhere. You haven't seen it yet, and you don't see it for a good third of the way through the season, and then once you do see something that he does love, then that sets him off, and he'll want to kill anyone who does mess with the thing that he does love.

E! News: Should we be prepared to blame you for the death that was teased at the end of the premiere?

NM: I can't speak to that. Damien has something to do with basically everything this season, without giving too much away, but it's about to get dark for a lot of people. So yeah, when I start to introduce how I turn my H.I.V.E. guys into H.I.V.E. members, what they do and what they will do for me and the allegiance they paid to me with no regard for their own bodies, it's pretty phenomenal. It's like a dictator ruling a country, and he takes the troops and says, OK, go into that battle right now and prepare to die, and they do. And then this one guy, this Arrow guy, comes along and just ruins everything.

E! News: How worried should we be about Lance, since he's being forced to work with Damien?

NM: Oh, Lance is in trouble. He's in a good bit of trouble with Damien, because I hold the card of his family over his head, so Lance has to pay allegiance to me or else I will just take his children and do something torturous and horrible to them. He knows that, because he's watched me do it to other people. So he's my little pawn right now, and Paul [Blackthorne] is such an incredible talent, it's ridiculous. He's standing his ground as much as he can against this sociopath, and it's great drama.

E! News: Should we be worried about him recruiting anyone else as a pawn?

NM: None of the heroes are recruitable, but there are certainly many people in this world that are recruitable, and that's who I go after. I'm Darth Vader, and I'm looking for as many people to sign up to my program as possible.



E! News: What is Damien up to this week?

NM: He's starting to build the power within Star City and people start to buy into this thing that he's selling. The audience doesn't know exactly what he's selling yet. When you do figure out what he's selling, you're like whoa, OK, that's awful. So people come to see what he's selling, and if it doesn't go well, I'm going to use my powers to make a point. A very dark point, without spoiling too much, but it is very entertaining to say the least.

E! News: What is your favorite scene that you've shot so far?

NM: Favorite scene that I shot the other night was when I turned regular guys into HIVE members, and the speech that I give to them to coerce them and get them to swallow the Koolaid, I'm like, OK, now… It's such a powerful scene, that's pretty fantastic. What's happening next week between me and Arrow, it's a massive spike between two of us. He messes with something that I actually love, and I'm going to break every limb in his body, and it sets up the scene which makes you realize, OK, Damien Darhk actually has, underneath all that—like the Grinch, whose heart was two times too small—his heart's probably 20 times too small, but there's some part in there underneath all that dark soul, and I'm so looking forward to next week.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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