The second season of the CW’s sleeper hit “Arrow” premieres this Wednesday and actor David Ramsey is back as the titular hero’s crime-fighting partner, John Diggle. Based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, Oliver Queen/Arrow (Stephen Amell), along with Diggle and cyber wiz Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) face new challenges as they work together to keep Starling City safe from a new barrage of villains including Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White).
Playing smart and powerful men comes easily to Ramsey, who’s racked up numerous TV credits including stints as Mayor Poole on CBS “Blue Bloods” and Dr. Noah Gleason on “Wildfire.” In “Arrow” Ramsey’s talent, charms and good looks have won him a devoted fan base in his portrayal of Diggle, an ex-military ops soldier who is devoted to Arrow’s crusade for justice, but has no qualms putting the green-hooded vigilante in his place when needed.
When we caught up with Ramsey, he’d just wrapped up a fun-filled weekend at the iHeartRadio event in Las Vegas, with high praise for Drake’s live performance. Ramsey gave us the scoop on the new season of “Arrow,” his outlook for Black actors on primetime TV, and what’s it really like doing a love scene with with former co-star Kerry Washington in “Mother and Child” (2009).
TUD: You got to see Drake in concert at the iHeartRadio conference. What do you think of his new album?
David Ramsey: I know Drake gets a lot of flack but his new album is blazin’, it’s hot.
People complain that he’s too “emo” and soft in his lyrics.
I get that, but he’s an artist. Sometimes fans don’t want you to go too far out the box, but Drake is trying to do something else. When you look at movies like “Titanic” they make money because of women. They go to see it and bring their men too.
Congratulations on a second season of “Arrow.” What do you think has made the show such a fan favorite?
I think it’s the bad guy getting his comeuppance. The other component is that the first half of the season played like Hamlet; his father’s dying wish is for his son to avenge those that have wronged him. So he’s on this quest for vengeance and that’s a compelling story. In addition you have a built in audience from the DC Comic fans of Green Arrow.
When I watched the pilot episode, I was struck by the diversity of the cast – I think I counted at least 4-5 actors of color. What was key to making Diggle more than just the token Black sidekick?
The writers always had the idea that John Diggle would be more than Arrow’s sidekick. Obviously the first season was about Arrow the vigilante. This new season will be about Arrow the hero.
Part of his transformation is his friendship with John Diggle. He is somewhat of a mentor to Olver as well as his moral compass. When he gets off the island he’s a killer, one of the top three assasins in the world. If he didn’t meet Diggle he would be dead. When Diggle finds out about Oliver’s secret identity and asks Diggle to join his crusade, Diggle tells him “Ok, but not as a sidekick.”
Diggle has his own personal vendetta against Deadshot, the man responsible for killing his brother. Will we see this storyline continued in Season 2?
Within the first seven episodes, Diggle confronts his feelings about Deadshot in a very real and visceral way. Diggle, who’s always had the idea that life is precious and about how we distribute justice, actually backs away from these beliefs because of his pure hatred for Deadshot.
Michael Jai White has joined the show to play Bronze Tiger. How has it been having him on set?
Michael and I worked together years ago on this movie of the week called “Mutiny.” Of course the first thing you think when you find out you’re working with Michael is “It’s time to put down the Krispy Kremes!” Make sure those abs are on point! He did a great job with Bronze Tiger and he’s now a recurring character.
And now the John Diggle character has been included in the DC Comics universe.
The producers told me and I was just ecstatic. I wish I could say it was just me like “Yeah we did a really good job” but it’s the fans who’ve really embraced Diggle in a way I could have never imagined. What could have started out as an ancillary character has really become a bedrock of “Arrow.” It has been a real honor to play this character.
You co-starred with Kerry Washington in “Mother and Child” (2009) and the two of you shared a very steamy love scene. How did you two prepare beforehand?
Kerry is the consummate professional. She came to me and asked if there was anything I wanted to talk about. I said “Well what do you want from me because I want you to be comfortable.” Kerry said to me “David, I want this scene to be real. All I want in this scene is the truth.” So yeah it was a hot, racy scene and we discovered “the truth.” *chuckles*
Do you watch “Scandal”?
Of course! I love “Scandal.” Kerry is doing an amazing job, everyone on the show is great, but Kerry is carrying the show with the greatest of ease. She brings such a light to all her roles, and Olivia Pope was tailor-made for her talents.
In a recent article, “Sleepy Hollow” star Nicole Beharie said that Kerry Washington “ripped open a hole” for Black actresses with the success of “Scandal.” Do you think your character John Diggle will have the same effect for black actors?
She’s right. Not only does it have to do with the success of “Scandal” but even going way back to “Grey’s Anatomy” – a cast with a lot of people of color. If ‘Grey’s Anatomy” opened the door then “Scandal” ripped the door off its hinges.
I hope my character on “Arrow” will have the same effect for leading men of color on primetime, to do what mainstream leading men on television get to do – be sexy, go shirtless, get the girl, be the hero and save the day. All the cliche, traditional things we’ve seen played by White faces. Hopefully we can see young leading men of color be portrayed in the same way on television.
“Arrow” Season 2 premiere airs October 9th on the CW 8PM EST
You can follow David Ramsey on Twitter: @David_Ramsey
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