John Bar­row­man

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - John Barrowman - Words by Joseph McCabe por­trait by De­bra Hu rfod Brown

John Bar­row­man earned his geek stripes play­ing fan fave Cap­tain Jack Harkness on Doc­tor Who and its hit spin- off se­ries Torch­wood. Now there’s an­other genre credit on his showreel. A life­long comic book af­fi­cionado, he jumped at the chance to ap­pear in Ar­row as Oliver Queen’s arch- en­emy, the no­to­ri­ous Mal­colm Mer­lyn ( known as “Mer­lyn the Ma­gi­cian” in DC comics, the dark bow­man first ap­peared in 1971’ s Jus­tice League Of Amer­ica # 94). Bar­row­man’s por­trayal of the vengeance- minded busi­ness­man and as­sas­sin proved popular enough to win him a regular spot in the show’s cur­rent third sea­son. SFX re­cently caught up with the charis­matic per­former, and he shared his thoughts on Mer­lyn’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to play an ac­tive role in his daugh­ter Thea’s life this se­ries, no mat­ter how much suf­fer­ing it causes her brother Oliver and Team Ar­row… Oc­cu­pa­tion: Ac­tor Born: 11 March 1967 From: Glas­gow, Scot­land

G reat­est H its: Miss Saigon, Beauty And The Beast, Doc­tor Who, Des­per­ate Housewives, Torch­wood, Zero Dark Thirty, Ar­row

Ran­dom Fact: Though he now por­trays Ar­row’s “Dark Archer”, Bar­row­man was a de­cid­edly lighter bow­man as the lead in Robin Hood – The Pan­tomime Adventure. Mal­colm Mer­lyn’s a great ma­nip­u­la­tor. Lately he’s been toy­ing with the emo­tions of Oliver Queen’s sis­ter, Thea. Does he hold any real love for her?

I think Mal­colm has a very dif­fi­cult time in show­ing love. Mal­colm can con­trol peo­ple with money, power, and also with his de­struc­tive tech­niques. [ His son] Tommy got emo­tion­ally in­volved with a girl, and love de­stroyed him. He also lost Moira that way. She sac­ri­ficed her­self for love. He only has Thea left. He’s got to con­trol her by con­trol­ling her emo­tions. He loves her, but in a very dif­fer­ent way. To con­trol some­one emo­tion­ally you have to break them down. Mal­colm is also the only fa­ther fig­ure left in Oliver’s life.

If you go back, when it was Tommy’s birth­day and I walked in with a birth­day present for Tommy and he didn’t want it, who did I throw it to and wink? Ollie. Be­cause, as Mal­colm Mer­lyn, I see Oliver as just as much a son as I did Tommy. But Oliver is the son that I al­ways wanted Tommy to be — the play­boy, the guy out there do­ing things and mak­ing it hap­pen. When I found out that he was Ar­row, I didn’t kill him. I couldn’t. Although I fought vi­ciously with him. Maybe that’s why I faked my death, so I didn’t have to kill him. Is Mal­colm truly evil?

Mal­colm’s not evil [ laughs]. I think Mal­colm’s mis­un­der­stood. I’m talk­ing as Mal­colm Mer­lyn here — if you think I’m bad, let’s go back and look at ev­ery­thing that Oliver has done. We’re both just do­ing the same thing but go­ing about it in very dif­fer­ent ways. One is deemed a hero, and the other one is not. What’s it like play­ing a fa­ther?

It’s in­ter­est­ing for me be­cause I’m at a point in my life now where I have been the hero and the younger char­ac­ter, and I’m now the dad. Which is re­ally great be­cause I get to kind of re­lax a lit­tle bit. I get to go home at night and have two glasses of wine… I was gonna say one, but that would be a lie [ laughs]. Be­cause I’m not gonna be the one tak­ing my shirt off, you know? I still could, but I don’t have to worry about that any more. Ev­ery­one on Ar­row ap­pears to be find­ing ro­mance. Will Mal­colm?

I hope so. Who knows who’s go­ing to come in? I have fished through my DC En­cy­clo­pe­dia that I keep by my bed, just to see who I might want to fall in love with [ laughs]. I’m a big geek and a big fan my­self. I love the fact that I’m a vil­lain in a frig­gin’ comic book that I grew up read­ing. In fact… My sis­ter and I write to­gether. We have a book se­ries and we’ve done a cou­ple of comic books, and I’ve ac­tu­ally men­tioned to [ ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer] An­drew Kreis­berg that I would love if my sis­ter and I could do a spin- off comic for Mer­lyn, a look into his past or an off­shoot of what’s hap­pen­ing now. That would be great. What do you think about the ex­plo­sion of DC TV shows mak­ing it to the screen?

In the ’ 70s and ’ 80s, when I was younger, I used to play with all of the DC Mego fig­ures. I still have all of them, and over the years I’ve bought all the rest. So for me DC was al­ways prom­i­nent. Then I’ve had the for­tune to meet Stan Lee and know him, and I like Marvel also. I know a lot of peo­ple are gonna dis­agree with me, but you can like both, okay? In my world it’s both any­way [ laughs]. There has been that Marvel resur­gence. Now it’s DC’s turn. It’s great that Warner Broth­ers and CW are tak­ing a lead in that. I mean, The Flash… Could Mal­colm one day ap­pear on The Flash? I would love Mal­colm Mer­lyn to cross over into The Flash. I don’t know if it will hap­pen, but it would be great; be­cause Star­ling City and Cen­tral City are not that far apart. Grow­ing up, when we were watch­ing things like The Six Mil­lion Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, you had Os­car Gold­man who would be the one that would go back and forth. It made those worlds more real to us, be­cause we be­lieved that they ac­tu­ally ex­isted. And Star­ling City does ex­ist. I hate to tell ya. I live in it.

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