Playing the “time master” named Rip Hunter puts actor Arthur Darvill in somewhat familiar territory – the actor played Doctor Who companion Rory for several years. Now, the actor who played Rory has essentially become the Doctor in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and his companions are a group of superhero and supervillain misfits, all united with one common goal: To stop Vandal Savage.
The show premiered to great ratings last Thursday night on The CW; a new episode airs on Thursday. We spoke with Arthur Darvill in October on the Vancouver sets of Legends of Tomorrow; you can find the interview in video form below, with a transcription following underneath. Enjoy!
What kinds of time periods do we see the Legends visiting in the series?
Well, we’ve only just started, really. We go back to the 70s, which has been quite a lot of fun. I like all the detail of the costume and the props. Our design team is so specific on this and so good. They really recreated some great time periods.
When they go back in the past, for the characters that are older, do they have to avoid meeting their younger selves?
Well, there’s all those perils of time travel, you know? It’s been explored throughout literature, film and television for such a long time. What happens if you meet yourself? What happens if you meet people who are related to you? We dip into all of those things because I think those are kind of the important things to watch out for. Those are a universal time travel conundrum. The big thing is how much of the past do we change?
Rip’s job is to keep the proper timeline constant — keep the true timeline constant. A few things happen that might throw a few spanners in the works.
Since Rip had a big crazy chalkboard in the comics, might we see something like that on this set?
Oh! I don’t know! I’m definitely going to suggest it because I think it’s a great idea.
With these new characters coming in, we know where some of them are coming from. But where are we going to see Rip enter this world and what are the motivations that first bring him out?
I think it’s kind of surrounded by mystery, really. He’s got his own motivations, which you’ll find out later on. But ostensibly, the world has come to a disastrous point and it’s got to a point where Vandal Savage has gained so much power in the future that it’s impossible to sit by and do nothing.
So when we meet him, he’s very much in a mode of wanting to solve a problem and feels like he has the right plan to do that. I can’t describe it. I think he expects the series to last one episode. he expects to get them, go back in time and sort it out and be done with it, go home and live a happy life.
Who’s most disruptive of the team members?
They’re all pretty disruptive. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s quite a rag bag bunch of people. It’s kind of amazing as an actor to work with all these big personalities, as well.
You get this bunch of people together on a space ship, [where] everyone has their thing and everyone thinks they’re right. They all clash at various points. But Rip’s hand-picked these people. he’s not entering it blindly, he’s done his research. But I think it’s a little bit more difficult to keep the team a team than he first imagined. He really wants to keep it as a team.
How much is he actually babysitting this team of misfits as the season goes on?
More than you’d want him to. [Laughs] There’s a bit of that, I suppose. I don’t know, we haven’t gotten that far. He’s not kind of like … he’s not sitting down being their reform teacher or whatever you guys have here. He’s not their guidance counselor. They’ve got a job to do.
He doesn’t really want to have to deal with all of that stuff but has to at various points because the cracks start showing in relationships very quickly. You stick any group of people on a spaceship together trying to save the world and there’s going to be fights. People’s true selves coming out more than they’d want to.
On the show, do we have a sense or any clues as to who Rip Hunter’s parents are?
I don’t know how far they’ve planned. I’ve obviously read the comics and know the deal of who his parents are and all of that. As with all of these shows, I don’t know how true they’re going to stick to it or if they’re gonna bring that in later on or anything. Hopefully we’ve got a long time to go on the show.
What’s great about having this bunch of characters if there’s so much history to explore with all of them. This is just one adventure. We’re already excited about the future possibilities as of what storylines could be.
A lot of actors we’ve talked to who are playing beloved comic book characters sometimes say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to read the comic books because I want to put my own spin on it.’ But you’re a fan of the comics. Do you think that’s brought something special to the role?
Oh, totally. I’m obviously going to put my own spin on it cause that’s my job and that’s what I enjoy doing. I get the idea of not looking at it, but I think for me, Rip’s been depicted in such different ways through the history of the comics — and actually none of them are close to how I’m playing him.
My key into him was reading the Vanishing Point comic, which I like. It made me realize I can make him stronger than I thought he was. He has that kind of action-adventure thing and he can be a leader, which I’m really interested in. I like the way he’s got Superman and Booster Gold there to contend with, yet he totally leads the way. I think that shows he can stand up for himself.
How much are we seeing the team in the ship vs. outside in the time traveling universe, and how does that change their dynamic?
It does change the dynamic, because you let the chickens out of the coop and see where they run. Yeah, I mean, in the ship they can be contained but that proves difficult because tempers rode. Then outside the ship, you don’t know what they’re going to do. It’s a lose-lose situation at some point, but hilarity ensues.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursdays on The CW. See some photos from Episode 2 at our Legends portal, DCLegendsTV!