Legends of Tomorrow: Brandon Routh Interview

Legends of Tomorrow star Brandon Routh talks about Ray Palmer leaving Arrow behind, and what's next for the biggest superhero show of all.

Legends of Tomorrow finally arrives on the CW this week, marking the latest evolution in Brandon Routh’s superheroic acting career. When Routh’s Ray Palmer was introduced during Arrow season 3, there was almost immediately talk of a spinoff. This eventually became Legends of Tomorrow, a show which boasts an eclectic mix of heroes and villains including White Canary (Caity Lotz), Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), Heatwave (Dominic Purcell), Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee), Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Firestorm (Victor Garber and Franz Drameh).

We had a chance to sit down with Mr. Routh to discuss Ray Palmer, and more.

Did Ray’s absence on Arrow coincide with shooting the beginning of Legends of Tomorrow?

Yes. In mostly challenging ways. A challenge to schedule all of that and shoot both shows concurrently, but we did it.

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Did going back and forth like that also make the tonal differences more jarring?

They’re not really jarring because Ray is pretty much Ray wherever he goes.

What was nice was to be able to do a couple of final scenes with Emily and close up the relationship with Felicity a little bit. It was really refreshing to have those scenes because they’re longer scenes without things crashing and exploding and having to save the world. We’re actually able to have a nice long conversation, so it was nice to have a couple days of shooting in the mix of all the craziness and explosion of Legends.

So you really feel Ray is the same even if the show around him has a different tone?

Yeah, I mean, I would say there’s even more room to go higher, more levity and a little bit bigger on Legends to a degree, from Arrow. I would say the same level of humor that I would be able to do on Flash I can do on Legends.

Are the mechanics of Legends different, because as many characters as there were on Arrow, there’s even more here?

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Yes, definitely. It’s a different way of shooting. It’s a different energy of scenes. From just a technical perspective, it takes a lot longer to shoot eight people in a scene. Even if it’s a one page scene it takes a lot longer than two people in a scene. Everybody chimes in and has a couple lines and we go on.

The demands are different but it’s good. It makes our show unique.

Is there a nobility Ray has?

I think so. I think that’s a core of who he is, is being noble. Upholding the rules for the most part, the humanity and giving everyone respect.

He’s able to do that on a bigger scope in some ways which is why he’s excited about taking the journey to become a legend because he’s not as much at the bottom. He’s at the top looking down as far as being able to change the world in a positive way.

Is there something from the comics that you like that you haven’t been able to work into Ray yet, and maybe you’ll get a chance to on Legends?

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The Sword of The Atom series was fun. I’ve read that. I don’t want that I want Ray to be powerless and have a sword but I’d like Ray to have a sword and have a piece of that be in a storyline at some point.

I’d like to get more into the science of how the suit works, because we don’t really spend a lot of time on it because things are blowing up and exploding. It’s probably maybe not that exciting but I like that type of aspect of wanting to know how it works and geek out about that a little bit more than we do.

Is Palmer Technologies left in good hands?

Well, we see in Arrow it’s kind of not great as far as its treasury is concerned. I think Ray definitely left it in good hands with Felicity and she’ll figure out whatever needs to be figured out to get it up and running.

But that’s her problem on Arrow?

Yeah, he’s left. That world is all left behind.

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What’s an example of a scene where Snart or Rory teach Ray the value of the darker side?

I think it’s evident in the episode [potential spoiler redacted]. Leonard’s tricks of the trade really help in getting him out of a sticky situation and also finding the right way to go, and knowing which lever to pull as it were.

Could you see a time when they might convince Ray to be a little less warm and trusting of someone?

I don’t know if they convince, but there are definitely opportunities where that comes up. That exact scenario is challenged. Ray may trust somebody too much and they’re saying, “No, no, you can’t trust this person.” But Ray is.

I’ll leave it up to the episode to see who’s right or wrong. Maybe Ray learns something from that or maybe he doesn’t. He’s a little bit stubborn sometimes.

Did all of that opening Atom flight run smoothly technically? Did you have to redo anything?

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That’s all CGI.

Even your face?

My face is not CGI. When there’s dialogue it’s me shot in a specific technical way, but I did not do really any flying for that. It’s pretty impressive CG.

Have you by any chance spoken to Paul Rudd about the technology for shrinking scenes?

No, I’ve never met Paul Rudd. I’m a big fan but we haven’t discuss Ant-Man vs. Atom.

I don’t mean versus, but maybe similar techniques.

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No, no, but technologies or attributes.

Was there one thing you got from the comic books that really clued you into Ray?

I think just his enthusiasm for science and for learning is a big part of who he was. He kept trying to shrink inanimate objects for a long time. Also just his heroic nature of putting himself first.

The fact that in the re-envisioning when he changed from Al Pratt into the real Ray Palmer story now, basically giving his life to shrink down, that when he resizes he’s going to blow up to save this group of school children caught in this cave is basically the story. He thinks saving these people is more important than his life and he goes and does that. I think that’s part of who Ray is today. That’s the heroic nature of who he is.

Is this the longest time you’ve ever spent with a single character?

I think so. I think so. I spent a long time thinking about Superman. I didn’t play him for as many hours on film but I definitely lived with Superman for about a year and a half. We’re kind of getting to that time now of living with Ray, certainly putting more Ray on camera.

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What have been your favorite time periods to visit on Legends?

We haven’t done a ton yet. I mean, the ‘80s was a little bit fun but we’ve done so few yet I don’t know that I have a favorite yet.

Is Ray at home in some periods more than others?

I think the ‘80s is fun because there’s a couple fun movie references that happen during that, ‘80s films, references, pop culture stuff that Ray has for lines and that’s fun.

Legends of Tomorrow premieres on January 21st on the CW.