On the next episode of The CW series Arrow, called “A.W.O.L.,” John Diggle (David Ramsey) must find a way to trust his brother Andy (Eugene Byrd) when an enemy of their wartime past, an agent of the criminal organization Shadowspire, pays a visit to Star City. Diggle learns more than he bargained for about their shared time at war, and is reminded of not only how different they are in the paths that they’ve chosen, but also how similar they are at their core.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor David Ramsey talked about Diggle’s ever-evolving helmet, why he likes getting to explore the personal dynamic between Diggle and Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson), how Diggle and Lyla’s relationship compares to Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards), what viewers can expect to learn about John and Andy’s past, how Diggle feels about what Felicity is going through, and how cool his upcoming cross-over on The Flash will be, as he gets to help Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) defeat King Shark. Be aware that there are some minor spoilers.
Collider: The last time I spoke to you, you teased that Diggle would finally get a mask, so it’s cool to see him comfortable in his suit and helmet now.
DAVID RAMSEY: Well, there’s been some progress. Actually, there will be some modifications to that helmet. So, yes, he is in a helmet, but that helmet is ever-evolving. There will be some improvements and enhancements to that helmet.
I love how this week’s episode, “A.W.O.L.” starts with a totally mundane moment between Diggle and Lyla, just walking down the street being a couple. Do you relish those quiet moments, or do you dread them because you know they can’t possibly last very long on this show?
RAMSEY: Just like everything else, the romance between Oliver and Felicity, and the marriage between Lyla and Diggle, whatever peace there is, is always short-lived on this show. For Lyla and Diggle, it’s a nice change of pace. It’s nice to see that couple. They’re more seasoned. They’re Mr. and Mrs. Smith, really. They’re both professional and very good at what they do. It’s a different type of feel than you have with Oliver and Felicity. So, it’s always fun to see the finished product and watch those two, as opposed to Oliver and Felicity, and to see their energy and how they react to each other. There’s so much drama and angst between Oliver and Felicity, and then you get to Diggle and Lyla and this is the second time they’ve been married to each other, they have a child, and they’re both military brats. There’s a big, long, rich history with them, so it’s always nice to have that juxtaposed against the younger, fresher, most angst-ridden relationship of Oliver and Felicity.
Do you feel like John is at an idea point in his life now, with his marriage and family working, things with Oliver and Team Arrow on track, and now with his costume and helmet. Does he feel more solid now than ever?
RAMSEY: Yeah, and something has to give, right? We need major tragedy for Diggle! No. I guess, to some degree. The jury is still out on his brother. Even though he takes a turn in the right direction in this episode, there’s a lot of the season left and a lot of story left to be told, in terms of his brother. The reconciliation between his brother and his brother’s wife and child still hasn’t happened. In terms of his personal life, there is still some traveling to do. One of the reasons why he’s been on the Oliver-Felicity train, in terms of that relationship working out, is that from Diggle’s viewpoint, these normal types of relationships and allowing himself to love is an attempt to leave the island behind and make this man who’s so heavily damaged, more and more human. That’s part of what Diggle’s mission has been. Even as Oliver has made his transition from vigilante to the Arrow to the Green Arrow, he’s still on that path. And I think we’re going to see more of that in Oliver, and how Diggle continues to assist that transition.
This is the episode that people have been waiting a long time for, to see the flashbacks of these two brothers together. What can viewers expect to see from what we’ll be learning of John and Andy’s past?
RAMSEY: Well, you’ll find out more about Shadowspire, and you’ll see the difference between these two guys. Diggle really took to the military while Andy really didn’t. I think you’ll see the bond between them. It’s a very lovely episode, in terms of the bond between these guys, even though they’re so drastically different. At the heart of it, they really do have much of the same code of ethics, even though they have two different approaches, in terms of how they get to the core of a matter. It is a relationship episode, in terms of flushing out some of that backstory between Diggle and Andy. You can really see what makes them both tick and what their similarities are. We’ve seen how they’re so differently lately, and just how far Andy has gone into this H.I.V.E. operation. That’s juxtaposed against the iron strong will of Diggle, on the side of right. In this episode, you will see how much more similar they are and how they do love each other. That’s really the difference. So far, we’ve been working the beats of how different Andy is from Diggle and how they’re so far apart, but in this episode, you really see how much they’re similar.
With Team Arrow always having been able to rely on Felicity as the one steady constant while everyone else is trying to sort their own shit out, how does Diggle feel about what she’s going through and seeing her doubt herself, in a way that we haven’t really seen?
RAMSEY: To some degree, the fans have been clamoring to see more of that relationship between Diggle and Felicity, like they did in Season 2 and Season 3. For Diggle, and I can speak for him to some degree, I think some of it is sympathy. I think he feels sorry for her, to some degree. I don’t think that’s the biggest part of it, but I think there’s a strong sense of that. Even though Diggle thinks she’s bad-ass, and that she’s one of the most awesome women he’s ever met and he’s even compared her, in a conversation that he had with Oliver, to his own wife, just in terms of how steady she’s been and is, I think that Diggle probably sees a change. She’s become this IT girl that has become a full-fledged vigilante. I think he probably, like he does for Oliver, worries about her remaining human and keeping her humanity, and not becoming the jaded person that Oliver is. Her different outlook on life is exactly what attracted her to the team, and attracted the team to her. That’s what they needed. Diggle probably worries about that leaving. He doesn’t want her to become the killer that he has been, and that Oliver fights every day not to still be. I would hope that the writers explore some of that. Diggle has always been seen as the protector of Oliver and Felicity. He’s made it very clear that Felicity should be trained and that he wants to protect her. And I think that isn’t just a physical protection. That’s also an emotional and mental protection, as well. I think he probably worries, to some degree, that she continues to keep that outlook on life and the hope that really attracted the whole team to her, in the first place, and that she doesn’t become jaded by this world that’s falling apart around her.
We know that Diggle and Lyla are going to be heading to Central City to help Barry Allen defeat King Shark on The Flash, which is just awesome. What can you say to tease that episode, and what’s it like to find out that you get to go off and do something like that?
RAMSEY: I told Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti, “Anytime you want me on The Flash, I love being over there.” Just logistically, as an actor, when you’re playing against a 14-foot, mutant half-man, half-shark, it is a stretch of the imagination. You’re going back to all of your acting training and classes to try to make that happen. So, you’re acting against a tennis ball on a 14-foot long stick, essentially. But, it’s just so much fun on The Flash. Our set is very fun, too, but the grounded nature of Arrow spills over into the mood on the set. It’s very grounded and very brooding. The Flash is just happy and the set is even lighter. There are no shadows on the set. There are lights everywhere. People are joking. I have to tell you this little story: When you see Diggle with the team in the lair, he’s folding his arms and sitting on something, which is something that I’ve just given to Diggle as part of his personality. Well, I’ve learned that The Flash set is not made for Diggle. I’ve broken two tables. It’s not Diggle-proof yet, but we’ll work on that. But just in general, it’s a lot of fun. I love going over there. And what can I tease about it? Diggle and Lyla are chasing a 14-foot mutant shark! What else needs to be teased?!
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.