Interviews

EXCLUSIVE : ARROW Scoop: John Barrowman Talks Malcolm Merlyn as the New Ra’s al Ghul and Crossing Over To THE FLASH

Arrow -- "Restoration" Katrina Law as Nyssa al Ghul and John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn -- Photo: Diyah Pera /The CW

Currently occupying a position of absolute power, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) as the new Ra’s al Ghul is a man that the world should tremble before, and as the ruthless leader of the League of Assassins, he will not hesitate to unleash that force on anyone who stands in his way.  Even the new villain in Star City, Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) appears to be but a shadow of the man who Malcolm now is and the power he wields.  But every villain has one soft-spot or weakness, and in the case of Malcolm Merlyn, that just may be his daughter Thea Queen (Willa Holland).  

In order to get some answers about what Malcolm is up to these days in Nanda Parbat and if he dares show his face again in Star City, in an exclusive interview John Barrowman shared just a few delicious teasers.

How heavy is the crown that Malcolm Merlyn wears as the new Ra’s al Ghul?
JOHN:  [Laughs] Literally or figuratively?!  It’s everything that Malcolm ever wanted — thus far — to be the leader of the League.  He is raring to go.  Where you find him [in tonight’s episode], he has got the League under his control and you will understand that more — there is an event that happens as you will see why the League will do anything he says they should do so you know he is in complete control.  So from when you last saw him ’til now, that’s what has happened with the League.  He has got them under his thumb.  What he doesn’t expect is that his daughter and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) are going to show up at his doorstep to ask a massive favor.  

We know Thea is having some problems. Is Malcolm going to possibly be able to help her?
JOHN:  Laurel has come with an issue that she wants help with and Malcolm is under the dilemma of here is the girl, who last season when he saved her life basically told him, “I wouldn’t do the same for you.”  Yet she has come in and she is asking, with his daughter, to resurrect her sister [Sara] — the girl that Malcolm had killed by his daughter [Thea]. Malcolm gives this moral, ethical reason as to why that should not happen, which is just something new for him and the audience is going to be like, “Whoa!”  He’s being all fatherly and ethical about it.  But then with Thea problem, he knows that he cares about her and he will do anything in order to help his daughter — and the audience knows that too, but what they don’t expect is what he does for her is completely unethical and against anything if you had any type of morals, and that is where the shocker comes.  Because you see two sides and the complexity of Malcolm:  one way for one person and another way for another.  

That sounds like Malcolm.  He always did exactly whatever he wanted.
JOHN:  Of course he did!  

I can foresee that Malcolm would want to sacrifice his own daughter just to save her.  Would he go to those lengths, or would not go that far?
JOHN:  You saw a little bit of that last season.  Because when she was going to be resurrected, he again did not want it to happen.  He knew what would happen when Thea came out of the pit.  The one thing — and I’m not sure if he said it already or if it is upcoming because, as Malcolm, I do a lot of speeches — but he says (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Everybody that goes into this pit has a bit and piece of everybody’s soul who has already been in their prior to them.”  And what they come out with and what part of those souls take over their spirit and their soul, we don’t know.  So that is the one thing that he didn’t want to happen to his daughter because he has seen it go incredibly wrong.  He was willing to let her go.  

So Malcolm could still just do something we would not expect, which would be to end the life of his own daughter.
JOHN:  [Laughs]  Yes.  I’m not going to say anymore, but:  yes.

Obviously, we suspect that Sara (Caity Lotz) is going to be resurrected.  Could she come back normal, or is that not even likely?
JOHN:  Anything is likely to happen with the Lazarus Pit.  Listen, we all know Sara comes back.  It’s not a secret anymore.  But how it happens and what happens to her is one of the big impacts.  I think that is where Malcolm is watching carefully.  Because here is a girl that he had murdered, so she would be out the way of what he was doing, and he can always get rid of her again — Sara doesn’t scare Malcolm — but he needs to know what she is going to be like when she comes out.  

It sounds like he might be a little hesitant and fearful.  Is there any reason for him to be afraid?
JOHN:  I don’t want to give away his moral dilemma is with Laurel, but he is not thrilled that this could happen.  Because this is another obstacle for him and he got rid of her before, and does he really want another obstacle back?  

Particularly one that might influence Nyssa (Katrina Law), who is working for Malcolm at the moment.
JOHN:  And that is another jaw-drop moment with Malcolm and Nyssa.  Something happens that, literally, the audience’s jaws are going to hit the floor.  

So Nyssa does have a part to play!
JOHN:  Well, for Nyssa, her father is gone and she is loyal to the League and she bowed before the new Ra’s al Ghul and we just have to see what her abilities are to stand up for herself.  

The show is obviously visiting Nanda Parbat this week.  Will we possibly see Malcolm returning to Star City anytime soon?
JOHN:  Malcolm is watching what is going on at the moment.  There’s a huge thing happening with Damien Darhk and Damien kind of frightens Malcolm because Malcolm understands him.  I think Malcolm has been in the background watching.  He’s always got his feelers out, seeing what’s going on and what’s happening because at some point he knows he may have to step in and help, or fix the situation, and he needs to have that information behind him.

Damien has proven to be quite formidable.  Would Malcolm actually be able to stand up to somebody with that kind of mysticism power?
JOHN:  You’re just going to have to wait and see.  Never under-estimate the puppet-master or the magician.  

Another thing we are curious about is Malcolm as Ra’s al Ghul should not just be a man as a figurehead, but he should be a man.  Could there be a romance on the horizon for him?
JOHN:  Oh god, I don’t know!  I think that would be something that Malcolm would least expect and it might be something that takes him from left-field.  But the thing with villains and troubled-heroes, the trouble-heroes are the way they are because of romances and loves that have gone really wrong or have been disrupted or are cut-off before their peak, shall we say, and that is what gives this type of character complexity.  So if something like that came along, it might be difficult for him to give over to it.  But I think it would be interesting.  

We know that Malcolm is going to Central City on THE FLASH, so is it possible that we might see Malcolm in the LEGENDS OF TOMORROW universe as well?
JOHN:  I have no idea.  But what is interesting about all these three shows is a lot of the characters were born within one or the other, so whatever happens in the future, it could be possible.  I can say that the current crossover that we are doing for THE FLASH is going to be an awesome one and I’m really chuffed that I’m part of that and going to be part of their stuff there in the future because it also is showing another side of Malcolm because that world is different from the ARROW world.  So it’s exciting in that it is an epic crossover that we are doing.  

Does Malcolm just roll with all those meta-humans rolling around over in Central City?
JOHN:  [Laughs] Meta-humans don’t scare him.

What can you tease about this week’s episode?
JOHN:  Malcolm’s complexity grows.  His ruthlessness comes back.  His manipulation comes back.  The Malcolm that everybody loves is back with a vengeance and there are going to be jaw-dropping moments, as always, when Malcolm returns.  

To find out whether Malcolm is as soulless as we fear or if his last connection with humanity shall find a way to redeem him yet, be sure to tune in for an all new episode of ARROW on Wednesday, October 21st at 8:00 p.m. on the CW.

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