After three seasons as Rory Williams on Doctor Who, Arthur Darvill should be more than ready to play the time traveler Rip Hunter on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. But going from Rory to Rip won’t just bring the 33-year-old actor Stateside; the move will let Darvill drive the time machine (finally!) and, more importantly, kick ass.
The Brit talked to EW about prepping for the timey-wimey role, what to expect from the show, and what would happen if Rory ever had to battle Rip …
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: People know you from U.K. programs like Doctor Who and Broadchurch, but you’re finally making the leap to American TV with Legends of Tomorrow. How do you feel about that?
ARTHUR DARVILL: I mean, the idea of doing American TV was just never on my radar, you know? That’s a whole other world. I suppose after Doctor Who, I started going up for things in America and got a manager, but even so, he’d be saying, “Are you going to work over here?” and I’d say, “Oh, I don’t know, I can’t see myself doing it.” It’s just kind of an alien thing, so when this came through, it slightly blew my mind.
Do you remember how you felt when you were asked to join the cast?
I just laughed a lot. I sent off these tapes [to audition for the producers] where I’m on my s–tty camcorder in my living room, like, I’m not very techy, I didn’t have a professional setup. It’s me and the cat and a couple of lamps that I’ve got. And suddenly, there’s a call saying, “Hey, you got the job!” It was just mad.
On Legends of Tomorrow, you’ll be playing a time traveler. On Doctor Who, you went on timey-wimey adventures. Were you always a fan of science fiction or did you just unexpectedly end up on time-travel-centric shows?
I’m not a massive, massive fan of it. If I were, I wouldn’t be able to do it, if that makes sense? What I like about the way these science fiction shows are going — and I suppose it’s always been historically like this — is that the stakes are really high, and the people who write them really, really care about them. There’s a whole community. You get to tell stories about humanity and about what it is to be a human being, what it is to be a person, and good and evil. That’s what’s exciting to me.
What are you most excited about when it comes to playing Rip? Have you been reading all the comics to get into his mindset?
Oh, yeah! I mean, my research is me sitting at home in my pants reading comics, which is great work. I’ve had some discussions with the producers about who Rip is and about what he’s got going on, and I’m so excited. There are elements to his character that are really intriguing, and I think you’re going to be surprised by him. And the physical stuff, I want to do as many of the stunts as possible, and I’d like to do a bit of fighting. I’ve been beaten up a few times but never managed to be the beater! [Laughs] It’s not in my nature … Rip Hunter makes things happen rather than reacts to things that are happening, and that’s a big thing. That was the main reason I wanted the job. He has a certain swagger, like in the trailer, he walks into a room and people listen to him. I don’t know if that happens to me in real life. [Pauses] No, I don’t think it does. [Laughs]
Have you watched the other DC shows on The CW?
Yeah, more The Flash than Arrow. I’ve seen both though, they’re great. My buddy Carlos [Valdés] is on The Flash [as Cisco], he’s great. When I got the job, he talked me through what’s going on, and I think what they’re doing on The Flash is really great. We did Once [on Broadway] together, he’s an amazing musician.
Maybe the two of you can collaborate musically on screen.
Yeah, we should do a musical episode! Definitely, maybe we can get something going.
So far, the show’s still in its extremely early stages — you and the rest of the cast shot the trailer, but the pilot’s script is still getting written. How are you feeling right now, as things start getting more put together? Is there anyone you can’t wait to finally shoot scenes with for the pilot?
Well, when we did upfronts, that was the first time we’d all been together in the same room. It was kind of mad. I really can’t single anyone out, because what I like is everyone’s so different. It’s like, I used to do this thing when I was a kid. I had my action figures in my room, and I used to get them all out and put all the good ones on one side of the room and all the baddies on the other, like a teamup of all of my favorite characters and make them fight each other over the course of a few days. Something in the show feels like that.
Well, maybe they’ll make action figures of Rip Hunter, and you can do that again.
Absolutely! And then I can make my Doctor Who action figure and my Legends of Tomorrow figure fight each other. That would be quite amazing.
Who would win?
I don’t know, maybe the world would just explode. [Laughs] But that would be fun!
Legends of Tomorrow debuts in early 2016 on The CW.
An edited version of this interview ran in Entertainment Weekly issue #1371-1372, on newsstands Friday, July 3.
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