How does it feel to strap on the Deadshot costume?
It feels great, man. It’s evolved a little bit from when he first showed up. The first incarnation of the costume had its challenges. We actually had to make a bellbottom sleeve on my leather jacket to make the gun being exposed look real. They wanted me to be able to see through the monocle so it would be easier to do stunt scenes and stuff like that, but it was really big and bulky and awkward and it would fog up like a swimming mask.
When I did the audition, they told me I was auditioning for an army sniper. On the call back, the director asked me if I had any tattoos. I said no, and when I went to the lobby and looked at the other guy auditioning for Finn (the name they gave this army sniper), the guy was covered in tattoos. I’m like, god damn, they want somebody with tattoos! There’s no way I’m getting this gig. Then, turns out, they wanted to put tattoos on the body, so that played in my favor.
I go in for my first wardrobe fitting and everybody starts calling me Deadshot. I’m like, I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’m playing some dude named Finn. Then, they bring me in a room and start showing me all of my weapons, start showing me all of the comic books and I’m like, what? Are you kidding me?! I know this guy! I know this guy from the comic books. I’m playing this guy!? It completely blew my mind, it was like Christmas morning, man – it was awesome.
Then, I try on the wardrobe for the first time. I had just bought a new truck. I had never had a truck with an alarm system in it before. All of a sudden I start hearing this buzzing. I’m in full costume now. I realize, it’s my keychain from my truck that I just bought. I go whipping outside the building, thinking somebody is stealing my truck, and I’m in full Deadshot gear. I didn’t even realize it – I was just worried about my truck. I see this big mack truck driving up the road – I guess the vibrations set off my alarm, but can you imagine if somebody had been breaking into my truck and I showed up looking like that? So, that was my introduction to the costume right there.
The new costume that we have, it’s got a smaller monocle, it’s able to light up, the gear is really comfortable, it’s easy to shoot in, it’s easy to run and to do stunts and fight. It looks pretty bad ass and it’s very functional. Now, at this point, after playing him for so long, I feel like I can just cover up my right eye and I turn into Floyd Lawton. I love it.
Speaking of getting into character, your character is dealing with some flashbacks, origin stories and PTSD in this episode. Can you talk a little about how it was to discover that stuff as part of your character and how you researched it and brought it to life?
The thing about Floyd is that he is not a clear cut villain. He’s got his villainous tendencies, he’s got his problems. I wanted to dig into his background to see what happened to him. People aren’t really born evil, and if they are, that doesn’t make for telling good stories in comic books, so most of the super villains have this moment when they get damaged and that sends them on this other trajectory to turn into this person with villainous tendencies and hardens them over and makes them just not care, you know? And Floyd is that guy. He’s got these problems
. He’s got these suicidal tendencies. He hates himself and that is what gives him the upper hand in a fight because he doesn’t care what happens to him. He’s willing to risk it all. He wants to go out in a blaze of glory so that makes him very powerful in a battle.
When it comes to the scenes that we did this week, you do get to see these moments that he’s had in his past, and I was really excited to do these, but I wanted to do them right. We had some really challenging stuff. I’ve only played Floyd post-trauma, so I had to go back and see what he would have been like before all this stuff happened, and then take the audience through that. It was definitely challenging, the emotionality that I had to bring out in the character was something that I never had to tackle before with this guy. It’s hard to do in the moment but afterwards it feels real liberating. I feel like we dug our heels in, we worked hard, we got some really good stuff and I’m excited for everybody to see it.
I imagine that being able to find new aspects of a character that you play more than once over a long period of time has got to be pretty satisfying.
It’s very satisfying. Our brains go towards evolution of a character. You start them at a certain point and you have this natural evolution, but when you go to devolve a character, it’s disorganized in your brain. You really have to concentrate on it, dissect it and look at it really closely and carefully to see where he started and how do I meet that point where I started him from. It’s pretty crazy man. It kind of turns your brain inside out, but you’re right, it’s really gratifying.
Why do you think Deadshot is such a great counterpoint to Arrow, especially in the terms of the things they’ve been doing this season about identity? Who are we? Am I good, am I bad?
Even though Deadshot only has very few lines in episode three of season one, he says this thing like, we’re the same, you kill people too. And he’s like, yeah but I do it for the right reasons. I’m just like, you’re kidding yourself dude. You’re good at killing, I’m good at killing.
What’s the difference?
I feel like Deadshot was approaching this meeting with Arrow almost like, let’s team up. We’re clearly two of the best at this. Let’s team up. We can make a lot of money, we can achieve our goals, we have this gift. We need to do this together and we’ll be unstoppable. We’re starting from the same point, we want to end at the same point. We want to do the mission to the best of our abilities. But one person wants to do it by being able to sleep at night, their conscience is very strong, and I’m just like, no man I want to do the thing I was put on this earth to do, I want to take people out. So, we’re going to end up at the same place but the way each character would get there, be it Arrow or John Diggle, would be completely opposite to the way Floyd would get there. Floyd is just like, why are you wasting all this time? This could be so easy. You know what I mean? That’s the interesting story. That’s why they are drawn to each other, and I feel like each character learns a lot more about themselves when they’re put in that exploration of that dynamic together.
What’s your favorite part about playing this character and being on this show?
I mean, I love being on the show because I love the people I work with. I love the physicality of the roles that are on the show. I love doing the stunt scenes – I’ve become really good friends with a lot of the stunt performers. I feel really fortunate to have had this as one of my first big jobs in the industry. I learned so much. Playing a character like this, you get to say and do all the things that people kind of want to say and do but don’t get the opportunity to. It’s really freeing to have a character like that. He just doesn’t care. He doesn’t care what anybody thinks. He says the stuff that nobody else wants to, and it’s pretty freeing to be able to play a character like that. Also, it’s always fun to play the bad guy. Everybody has got a little bit of bad guy inside them, so to open up that little black box deep down and to let it pour out into a character feels good.
Watch Arrow Wednesday night on The CW.