On The CW series Legends of Tomorrow, Time Master Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) travels 150 years back into the past from2166, to assemble a carefully selected team of heroes and rogues that he hopes will be able to stop the immortal villain Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) and save the world from total chaos and destruction. If they’re ever going to succeed, this team must find common ground and a way to work together.
While at the TCA Press Tour, actor Arthur Darvill spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about what most appealed to him about Legends, that there are more practical sets than green screen, why his 8-year-old self is going nuts over this role, how excited his family is that he’s a part of the DC universe, how often Rip Hunter regrets having put this team together, and that we might see new people help out, along the way. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: With so many cool elements to this show, what most appealed to you?
ARTHUR DARVILL: What appealed to me the most is that [Rip Hunter is] such an interesting character. He’s arrogant and he’s cocky, but he’s also a bit hurt. He thinks that he can be the thing to change the world and right all the wrongs of his time, and then he realizes that he can’t really. Only with everyone’s help, can he do it. It’s a complicated journey that he’s on, and that’s what really appealed to me about doing this. I had Marc [Guggenheim] and Andrew [Kreisberg] and Phil [Klemmer] on the phone to me, before a script was written, trying to describe this character, and I got so excited by that. I was also excited about getting to be a part of these worlds that have been created. You couldn’t have made these programs five years ago. The scale of the ambition is so huge and it’s really exciting to be a part of something new that’s pushing boundaries.
If anyone has watched Arrow and The Flash and thought they were big, they’re going to have their mind blown by this series.
DARVILL: It is so huge, and it only gets bigger. It’s great. I really enjoy it.
Do you enjoy playing pretend and using your imagination for all the stuff that isn’t there?
DARVILL: There is a bit, but not as much as you’d think. I haven’t been stuck in front of a green screen for too long. Yes, they’ve got amazing special effects, but they make as much as possible. You walk onto the set and go, “Oh, wow, I am really on a spaceship!” It’s great. They know what they’re doing.
How cool is it to get to play a character that has a spaceship that can travel through time?
DARVILL: My 8-year-old self is going absolutely, completely nuts! I’m a big Star Wars fan and a fan of lots of action-adventure stuff, from when I was a kid, with things like Back to the Future, and this appeals to my inner child so heavily. I get to go to work and FaceTime my friends and family and go, “Hey, I’m just showing you around my spaceship!” It’s great to be able to do that. I’m having a ball!
With as successful as comic book and superhero TV shows and movies are now, who in your life is most excited about you joining the DC universe?
DARVILL: My sister and my sister’s boyfriend are really excited. It’s definitely their kind of thing. And I’ve gotten a cousin who lives in Dallas, and I know he’s very excited. My parents are funny. My mom is like, “Oh, you look so heroic!” She’s a proper proud parent. Everyone back home is pretty excited.
Even if you know nothing about the comic books, you can still get excited about spaceships, time travel and meta-humans.
DARVILL: Definitely! It’s great if you’ve watched the other two shows, and then come to this show, but it stands alone as a really good piece of television. I think Rip’s story is so interesting. You don’t need to have seen the other shows to know what’s going on, so I think it will bring a lot of new viewers, as well. It stands alone as its own thing, which was a worry, going into it. You wonder, is it just going to be a spin-off of a spin-off? But I’m really pleased that it has its own tone, its own pace and it’s own voice.
Rip Hunter brings very different people together for this team, thinking it’s the answer to solve all of his problems. How often does he regret that choice?
DARVILL: Hourly! Those issues come up quite a lot. There’s a big power struggle within the group, at various points. He’s lost all of their respect, at this point. By the end of Episode 2, they’ve been through a lot together, but he’s totally lost their trust and it takes him awhile to regain that. You can only lead if the people that you’re leading want to be led. He’s got quite an uphill struggle. As we get to know more of what Vandal Savage is like, the team realizes what they’re up against and that galvanizes them and makes them want to fight as a team because they’re facing such a horrific bad guy.
Does Rip become more of a member of the team than just being their leader?
DARVILL: Yeah, he does, but reluctantly, though. I think he wants to stay distant from them. But inevitably, he gets pulled into them as human beings because he has empathy and a heart, which he’s led by. He really tries to distance himself from people, at every corner, but is not always successful at it. I think he’s very affected by Hawkman’s death, or Carter’s death, but he won’t show that to the rest of the group. He feels that he has to keep an air of being that leader and being above everything, and thinking more of the higher calling.
As the mission goes on, could Rip add to this team, depending on whose talents he might find useful?
DARVILL: That’s an interesting question. There are definitely other people that can help him throughout different time periods, and we do get to meet various other people along the way. Whether the team increases or decreases is something that we’ll have to wait to see.
Legends of Tomorrow airs on Thursday nights on The CW.