Seth Gabel returns to “Arrow” on Wednesday night, as The Count comes back to take on Oliver Queen.
It’ll be the former “Fringe” star’s third appearance on The CW drama, bringing to life the crazed maker of designer drug Vertigo, who was most recently incarcerated (until a prison break).
Taking on The Count (who goes by Count Vertigo this episode) is an intense experience for the actor, and after filming, he turned to a surprising entertainment choice to decompress.
“It was helpful to watch ‘Breaking Bad’ episodes as a way to kind of come down, to have a middle space between reality and sanity,” Seth told AccessHollywood.com on Tuesday.
Watching the intense world of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman helped bring Seth out of The Count zone.
“That’s how extreme the character was, so to go from kind of this irrational insanity to a more strangely rational sanity of Walter White, it was like in between the Seth Gable world and the Count Vertigo world,” he said.
In our new interview, Seth (who is currently shooting upcoming WGN series “Salem”) also dished on The Count’s name change, his experiences in Starling City’s prison system and why he’s so hell-bent on taking down Oliver Queen/The Arrow.
AccessHollywood.com: On ‘Arrow’ you are one of the villains who gets to keep coming back.
Seth Gabel: As long as you don’t die, you get to keep coming back.
Access: Is Stephen Amell’s Arrow going to be really angry that he chose not to kill you?
Seth: Yeah. The Count definitely takes advantage of the Arrow’s ‘no killing’ clause and once he learns about it that reveals a huge weakness for Oliver. The Count has had a lot of time to plot his vengeance and it’s possible that someone’s even helping him along the way and so he breaks out of prison with a raucous, roaring plan to wreak havoc and destruction upon Oliver and if that means going to his family, then there’s no holds barred.
Access: Do we get to see the break out, or see what prison was like for him?
Seth: You do. There’s a really fun prison scene and you do see the escape and I found it pretty entertaining when we were shooting it.
Access: What do you imagine prison was like for The Count? Obviously The Dollmaker was in there too, so there were some pretty bad criminals at Iron Heights.
Seth: Well, The Count is not intimidated by anyone and he’s smart and so he knows how to manipulate other people’s weakness to his own favor. If The Count is going to spend any time in prison, he’s gonna know how to run that prison and so his time there wasn’t torturous in any way because of the other criminals, but it was torturous simply because I couldn’t do what I loved to do, which was distribute Vertigo, get people hooked on it, kind of control them with that. And also, I’ve just been plotting the revenge on Oliver Queen because he’s the only person that’s ever made me feel vulnerable or has ever defeated me or made me look bad and he’s also put me in this prison of my own mind, when I was crazy, and the Veritgo wasn’t fully out of my system and then an actual prison and so I’m fully primed and ready to get my revenge on him.
Access: What state of mind is The Count in when we see him again?
Seth: Honestly, he’s bored. This is the first time we’ll see The Count as being bored because he’s in prison and he can’t do anything exciting really. Life is too limited and too easy in there and [he’s] just stuck in a box. When I find the opportunity to get out of that box, I’ve never felt more of an urge to cause great change in Starling City.
Access: It sounds like The Count and pre-island Oliver would have been really good friends.
Seth: (Laughs) The Count and pre-island Oliver… Yeah! You know, they probably would. They would party together and not think about the consequences of things and just enjoy their lives and Oliver would probably help me distribute the drug and we’d have a great business relationship together.
Access: Based on the trailers, it looks like you’ve discovered Starling City’s version of YouTube selfie videos. Is he recording and sending out his edict for the masses?
Seth: I kind of hijack the airwaves of Starling City and put out a special broadcast. It’s just the very beginning of a trap that I’m luring Oliver into that climaxes at the end of the episode.
Access: So no The Count YouTube channel then?
Seth: Well, if in Starling City you broadcast via YouTube, then that’s the way I do it.
Access: I was immediately wondering what would Count Vertigo’s YouTube channel be filled with…
Seth: A lot of DIY and cooking recipes.
Access: Are we going to get to see some crazy Count?
Seth: Oh definitely. I think it’s impossible to see The Count not crazy. His realm of logic exists on a different plane than it does for most people, so for The Count, normal is what others would perceive as insane and you get plenty of that in the episode.
Access: Where do you go to for the crazy? You have to change it up a little bit, I would imagine, especially with the prison history now a part of who he is.
Seth: Yeah, for me it’s very instinctual. I started out each day by getting into the part by listening to aggressive dubstep music… just like dancing in my trailer to like…. Bassnectar… and all of these bands that have the word ‘bass’ in them so you know what you’re gonna get and just having like a really great time and really getting into my body and kind of getting energetically into the groin of the character, because The Count operates from a place that is very primal and very sexual and really wanting to kind of assert his authority over others, so a lot of his insane motivations are driven by simply wanting to be the strongest and smartest guy in the room.
Access: Is it true your character gets a bit of a name revision in this episode? He goes from The Count to Count Vertigo?
Seth: Yeah, it does seem that way. I think even IMDB reflects that, which is interesting… because seeing him listed that way it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s interesting because he used to be The Count, then he had this overdose of Vertigo and now he’s kind of fused into a new character that is Count Vertigo. The Vertigo is now a part of who he is and is motivating his actions in a different [way] than it used to and so I think it’s appropriate that his character is perhaps renamed in this episode.
“Arrow” airs Wednesday night at 8/7c on The CW.
-- Jolie Lash