'Arrow's' John Barrowman: Malcolm Has Arrow Envy

Barrowman Arrow Poster Split - H 2012
The CW

Barrowman Arrow Poster Split - H 2012

John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn wants his screwball son to get his butt in gear and he isn't afraid to throw him to the wolves to get him there on the CW's freshman drama Arrow.

As it turns out, the tough-love father (previously known only as the "Well-Dressed Man") wants Tommy to be more like Starling City's hooded hero Arrow, the archer with a hit list ridding the home he loves from the crime and corrupt officials who have taken over.  

And while Tommy (Colin Donnell) doesn't quite get what that means yet -- he's turned to Oliver for a job at his club -- it turns out Malcolm might just be projecting what he wants for himself onto his son.

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To that end, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) will square off against the Dark Archer on Wednesday's Arrow as his alter ego faces what's being billed as his "most formidable opponent to date."

But just who is the brown-hooded copycat killer who's targeting names on Oliver's hit list? The Hollywood Reporter turned to Barrowman to get the scoop on whether or not Malcolm and Tommy's relationship would grow after the spoiled twentysomething was financially cut off, why the father with a penchant for swordplay is really just misunderstood and if he could be the Dark Archer on the drama from EPs Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg.

The Hollywood Reporter: How will we Malcolm and Tommy's relationship evolve -- or might it devolve?
John Barrowman: (Laughs) The devolving will be the evolving. When you found out that Malcolm was Tommy's father, the whole point of him cutting him off was because he wants him to pull himself together and stop being this flighty, social idiot. In Malcolm's eyes, he wants his son to be like Arrow but in order to do that, he has to cut him off and make it difficult for him because the best way to do that is through tough love. Maybe it will work or maybe it will crumble in front of Malcolm and their relationship will deteriorate.

THR: Might Malcolm be the Dark Archer/copy cat killer impersonating the Arrow or could it be Tommy, considering how much his father wants him to be like the hooded hero?
Barrowman: The more you watch the more you will learn about Tommy and about Malcolm. It's the kind of thing when I read the scripts as a fanboy myself, I have a bit of a fangasm when I read it. Your jaw is going to drop.

THR: Malcolm also has a complex relationship with Ollie's mother, Moira. What does he have over her that's keeping her in line? It doesn't seem like anyone really likes this guy.
The reason they don't like to hang out with him is because he's ambitious and he's ruthless in his ambition and for his objective. From playing a troubled hero in another show and coming to play a villain, I see Malcolm as a bit of a troubled hero himself because he's trying to do things to protect the company and other people but everybody sees it as being the bad way to do it; it depends how people go about things. Where as Oliver as Arrow is going around snapping people's neck and shooting folks but people see him as the good hero. So Malcolm is a bit frustrated by things like that and he's also frustrated with Moira because their kind of relationship, there's always mention of her husband Robert. The relationship between Malcolm, Robert and Moira, I hope we get to discover more of that because it'd be interesting to see what was going on there and why she has a loyalty to Malcolm as he has a loyalty to her because as you can see, she's starting to stand up a lot more to him than she has before.

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THR: Considering Malcolm wants to be the hero -- even though he's going about it the wrong way -- it seems like that'd be a great way to become a Dark Archer, so to speak.
Barrowman: That's a very good assumption! (Laughs)

THR: Does Malcolm want to be a good guy and the notoriety that Arrow seems to be getting?
Barrowman: I don't think Malcolm thinks he's a bad guy; he thinks he's a good guy.  Malcolm has had a very hard life. Tommy's father doesn't look that old, so you have someone who had children very young and had to work very hard to provide and to get where they are today. You've got someone who has had a hard time and perhaps doesn't recognize that some of it is a chip on his shoulder. He thinks he's a good man, he's just misinterpreted and misunderstood.

THR: That said, what's his relationship with Oliver like?
Barrowman: They cut a scene from the episode when Moira was in the hospital -- before it was revealed that Malcolm was Tommy's father -- where you saw the hero come out of the hospital and there Malcolm was to give Oliver a hug. You knew there was some real respect there and Malcolm really likesOliver. Malcolm would have loved to have had Oliver as his son.

THR: Those are some big shoes for Tommy to fill. How will he respond to his father wanting him to be more like Oliver?
Barrowman: Absolutely. Tommy has to step up to the plate. If he proves himself, then he can be welcomed back into the Malcolm fold. There's nice stuff coming up where you see that relationship between Tommy and Malcolm developing but whether it goes the right way or the wrong way, that's something that I don't want to say because there are some real nice twists in there.

Do you think Malcolm is the Dark Archer? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit