CW’s Arrow Star Colin Donnell discusses his role as Tommy Merlyn

GameStop, Inc.

by R.C. Samo

Colin Donnell Tommy MerlynColin Donnell has been thrust into the limelight in a very short period of time with the success of the CW crossover smash hit, Arrow.

Donnell made his transition from theatre to television with a handful of commercials, a stint on the short lived Pan-Am before landing the life changing role of Tommy Merlyn, the best friend of hero/vigilante Oliver Queen aka “The Hood.”

“My world has been theatre until now and I have enjoyed a lot of success there. It is crazy to come into something that has just skyrocketed. I don’t know if I could have ever imaged it being like this and seeing myself here,” said Donnell, a St. Louis, MO native and Indiana University alumnus.

What drew Donnell to Tommy Merlyn was how funny they had written him. He had played a lot of good guys on stage but liked that there was an edge to Tommy and how it creeped into the second half of the season, where the humor turned towards rage.

That shift in behavior will become factor in Tommy’s relationship with Laurel portrayed by Katie Cassidy, the daughter of famed 70s pop star, David Cassidy.

“There is the essential problem with her (Laurel) having an obsession and working relationship with the Arrow and now I know that is the same man who is still in love with her. It’s obviously going to raise a red flag there in Tommy’s brain and that conflict takes us into the end of the season,” said Donnell.

As Tommy has learned Oliver’s secret, leading him to question his loyalties, Tommy will begin to pull towards Malcolm, closing the gap between father and son, catapulting the Merlyn family closer together, creating a dynamic Tommy has longed for with Malcolm since the death of his mother.

Donnell attributes the crossover appeal as, “A testament to the writing and the actors they got to say those words. It’s not just targeting a specific demographics; and because the writers are such comic book fans themselves, they put everything in there for that crowd while trusting us as actors to convey some pretty difficult stuff and deal with complicated relationships.”

Another dimension that adds to the widespread attractiveness of the show beyond the great writing are the stunts. Donnell sang the praises of stunt performers Will Erichson, James Bamford , Duane Dickinson and the rest of the actors that make the show action packed.

“I can’t say enough about our stunt team. The work they are able to do in the amount of time they are given to do it is unreal. Anytime I know that there is going to be a stunt anywhere close to where I’m shooting I always go early or stay late just to go watch it. I showed up two hours early just to watch them jump across buildings,” raved Donnell.

When asked what Tommy is seeking in this world, Donnell said, “I think he wants some sort of stability, which was what he was finally achieving and now that’s exploded in his face. He had an idea that maybe someday he would have it, but if he finds out the other secret (about Malcolm) he will be stuck between a really giant rock and a diamond hard place.”

Arrow airs on the CW Network Wednesday nights at 8 p.m.

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