'Arrow' Q&A: John Barrowman On Malcolm Merlyn's Return

Willa Holland as Thea Queen and John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer in 'Arrow' Willa Holland as Thea Queen and John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer in 'Arrow'

With the Deathstroke/Slade Wilson Mirakuru army on the loose in Starling City, and his daughter, Thea Queen, having shunned her allies and once again in danger, Malcolm Merlyn is returning to “Arrow.”

John Barrowman again straps on the quiver and belts up his cloak as the Dark Archer/Malcolm Merlyn for Wednesday’s episode of The CW drama, where he will come face to face with Thea (Willa Holland), and for the first time, she’ll look at him with a daughter’s eyes.

Malcolm’s presence on the show has always added to the complexity and intensity, and with so many dangerous factions in Starling City, Wednesday’s episode, titled “Streets of Fire,” is looking like it will be another thriller. On Tuesday, John spoke with AccessHollywood.com about returning as Malcolm and the dangers he faces in Starling City, as well as his character’s plans for Thea.

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AccessHollywood.com: Last time we checked in with your character, he had learned the League of Assassins had been told he was still alive. So is it even safe for him to return to Starling City at this point?
John Barrowman:
Well, it might not be… Malcolm is not afraid of anything. Although he might be wary of what might happen, he’s not gonna stop it from letting him do what he thinks is the right thing to do, which ironically, probably is the wrong thing, but it’s not gonna hinder him. And, believe me… he will protect himself or manipulate the situation in order to make it work for him.

Access: Nice. … So, how does Malcolm he feel about Moira’s death?
John:
Malcolm is… I always say that, for me as the actor, to be able to do what I’m supposed to do in these next episodes, I believe that Malcolm lurked in the background and Malcolm was always watching what was going on and seeing what was going on and Malcolm, I think, always had a very, very big soft spot for Moira. Even though they would challenge each other that was kind of a thing that Malcolm liked, when she would turn around to him and basically say, ‘F*** you. I’m gonna do this to you now.’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah! Come on, bring it on baby ‘cause you’re hot when you’re mean.’ And that’s the underlying tone for me with Malcolm with Moira. But I think he’s devastated that she’s dead, and it would be interesting to see what that would do to him because having lost his wife, but also having lost the mother of his daughter and someone that he really, really enjoyed conversing with and being a friend to.

READ: ‘Arrow’ Q&A: Susanna Thompson Talks Moira Queen Twist

Access: And they could have been a great evil power couple too, if he’d turned her to the dark side.
John:
He tried to lure her over, he tried to do it, but Moira was strong and just wouldn’t – she wouldn’t bend. Her kids were her…

Access: Foundation?
John:
Yeah. Yeah. In a way, the kids were the downfall, but she will be missed.

Access: Thea is reeling from all of these revelations and everyone lying to her. Malcolm wanted her to know he is her dad. And now, she does. How is that going affect him? Is he going to be a little off center with this new young woman in his life?
John:
Well Malcolm has always known so it’s not new to him.

Access: But new as father-daughter relatioship.
John:
I get what you mean. I think it’s going to be a father-daughter relationship like you’ve never seen before. It’s going to be all that you know about a father-daughter relationship times 100, taken to the extreme. And Malcolm is going to, again, if you look at the genre of these shows and the history of characters in other shows like this and films like this, the best time for somebody to come in and to take somebody over and manipulate them to get them on your side is when they are their lowest, when they are their most vulnerable and that’s exactly where she is at the moment.

Access: ‘Arrow’ Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg said Malcom was going to save Thea. How much danger is she in then?
John:
She’s in a lot of danger. She’s in a massive amount of danger, but how he saves her is going to be very interesting.

Access: Does he have any interest in training her in the dark arts?
John:
Listen, it’s (laughs), if Malcolm had his way, he would be training her, and I think that’s why he’s going to save her, that’s why he wants to save her is because he has this idea — this is not written, this is just my theory — he has this idea that he could bring her to his side, to train her to be powerful, to be manipulative, to be controlling, to also, as Malcolm sees it, be honest, because everybody else around her has lied to her, except him. He’s come out with the truth.

Access: There’s another issue to deal with, which is Slade’s Mirakuru army.
John:
Those Mirakuru boys need to be kicked in the butt.

Access: I know! And obviously your character is trained very well. How does he stack up to them?
John:
You are just going to have to watch. That’s all I’ll say, is you’ll have to watch how I… I say, ‘I’ like I’m Malcolm Merlyn. I’m sitting here twiddling a pencil as I’m sitting here talking to you in central London and looking out over the city (laughs).

Access Are you twiddling it into an arrow? Refining it down into a sharp point?
John:
Actually, I did throw it across the room a few seconds ago like an arrow. I did. That’s really funny that I’m sitting doing this. But I am, I’m sitting looking out the window of my hotel room, over central London, talking like Malcolm Merlyn here, but you’ll have to see how he deals with the Mirakuru [army]. They are very powerful, but, never underestimate the power or the manipulation possibilities of Malcolm Merlyn.

Access: Or a determined father.
John:
A determined father. Exactly.

Access: I’ve got to ask you your thoughts on Malcolm’s perspective. Does he actually think he is a good guy?
John:
Yes. He does. I’m speaking as, this is how it gets bizarre — being an actor, I, as Malcolm, I’m a good man. I am doing everything I think possible to save the city, to save the situation, to fix the situation, but other people see that I’m going about it in the wrong way and I can’t help that, I can’t control that, but I’m gonna continue to do what I think is right and if you get in the way, so be it.

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Access: How much do you love this part?
John:
I – you know – I was gonna be really rude there, but I won’t. I absolutely love it. I absolutely love it because it’s totally opposite of anything I’ve ever played before.

Access: I wonder what Captain Jack would think of him.
John:
Captain Jack would, in a way respect him, for that honesty and that upfront kind of way he deals with things, but he would hate him. He would absolutely despise him.

“Arrow” airs Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW.

-- Jolie Lash

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