Last week, KSiteTV joined several other media outlets on a Vancouver press tour. Our first stop was the indoor mansion set used for The CW’s new TV series based on the Green Arrow comic books, simply titled Arrow. You can read our interview with Jessica de Gouw from that set visit here; more are coming as we lead into the October 10 premiere.
Today the spotlight shines on Colin Donnell, who plays Tommy Merlyn, onetime best friend to Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen. Donnell is mostly known for his stage work on productions including “Anything Goes;” on television, you could see him on Pan Am last year. At first glance, Tommy Merlyn seems to be a bit slimy; the kind of guy who wants to think about women and parties without a care in the world. Talking to Colin, it becomes clear that there is a lot more to Tommy than meets the eye. It also becomes clear, to Tommy at least, that something is up for his friend who has just returned to Starling City after being presumed dead for five years.
“Oliver comes back with so many secrets, and Tommy definitely recognizes that, but I think Tommy also wants to believe that his best friend is back,” Colin explains. “He just wants to pick up where the good times left off. He’s just so happy to have his best friend in the entire world home.” Tommy is also hiding some things from Oliver, as there have been some connections made – on multiple occasions – during the time Oliver was gone, as old friends took solace within one another to mourn their old friend. “We’ll see how that goes,” Colin teases. Colin also hints that another character from the show will learn Oliver’s secret “very soon,” but refuses to spoil the “who” of it all. He does confirm that Tommy can tell that Oliver has changed. “Tommy sees a huge change in his friend, and there’s little hints as to maybe him seeing that other side of Oliver that Oliver desperately needs to hide,” he says.
Not being let in on what Oliver will have an effect. “Tommy, in a way, is hurt by the fact that he’s not being let in all the way by his friend,” Colin says. “That’s something in the coming episodes that they address again and again; this feeling of ‘why won’t you just let me in?’ Same with Thea and Oliver, and his mom, and everything. Everybody is struggling with trying to find a way past this shell that he’s put up around him.” Thea, who is Oliver’s younger sister, might see a kinship in Tommy. “Aside from when I point out the fact that she’s gotten really hot in the past five years, Tommy looks at Thea as a little sister. They grew up together in the same way that she and her brother did. There is some really interesting stuff,” he says. “I think people are going to enjoy seeing the relationship develop between the two of them, in one way or another.”
Despite his “douchey” exterior, does Colin think Tommy Merlyn is a character that people will end up rooting for? “I think people are going to enjoy rooting for both of us. I hope that they root for both of us. I hope. It would be a shame if they all rooted for Oliver, and then nobody rooted for Tommy. Is there going to be a Team Tommy? Should we start the hashtag?” he asks. Even if people root for Tommy now, fans of Green Arrow comics know that there is a character named Merlyn who becomes Green Arrow’s arch-foe, the Dark Archer. Is Colin hoping for his character to have that fate? “I hope so. God, I want to do it so bad,” Colin enthuses. “I love all that stuff, and if it indeed happens, I will throw myself into it with as much abandon as I possibly can, and with as much abandon as the producers will allow, for fear of me getting hurt, which I’m apt to do every once in a while. I’m a klutz,” he laughs.
Doing a series full time in Vancouver is a new experience for Donnell, but it helps that, like the theater, the Arrow troupe has already become quite close. “What’s really been nice about the transition is, it’s weird to go, sometimes a week without seeing some of the people in the cast,” Colin says. “Stephen and I have had a great connection, and really, all across the board, the cast is so wonderful to hang out with on set and off set, that it has reminded me a lot of being back in New York and being with the company. It is so different, but in the way that we interact with each other, it’s made it very comfortable for me to make that transition.” One cast member Donnell has yet to work with or meet is John Barrowman, who is known only as “The Well-Dressed Man” for now, his character shrouded in secrecy. “He is a good guy, from what I hear. We played the same role in the same musical. Not in the same city. We saw him at FanExpo, actually. Stephen and I shouted at him from across a rope when he was signing autographs. Stephen yelled, and he was like ‘Hey John! We’re really excited for you to be Arrow!’ and he looks over and he’s like ‘Who the —?’ No. From everybody who has worked with him on set so far, they’ve said he’s a wonderful, wonderful person. I’m excited to see where everything goes with that. I have no idea,” Colin says.
You can see Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn in Arrow, premiering Wednesday, October 10 on The CW. Visit GreenArrowTV for more interviews related to the show, as well as trailers, spoilers, video clips, images and more!
Disclaimer: Travel and hotel arrangements for our Vancouver set visit were provided by Warner Bros. Television.