As Rory Williams on “Doctor Who,” Arthur Darvill played a character who was part of a group of heroes traveling through space and time to save Earth. His latest role as Rip Hunter on the new CW series “DC Legends of Tomorrow” again has him with a group of heroes traveling through space and time to save Earth. The big difference: Instead of being a sidekick, he bands the heroes and rogues together for the big mission.
His Rip Hunter is a time traveler who comes to the present to put together a ragtag team that includes The Atom (Brandon Routh), the White Canary (Caity Lotz), Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell), Hawkman (Falk Hentschel), Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee) and Firestorm (Victor Garber and Franz Drameh) to stop the immortal villain Vandal Savage (Casper Crump).
Fans of the CW network’s “Arrow” and “The Flash” will recognize these characters, which were introduced on those shows. Darvill’s character is the new face in the group.
Darvill understands how comparisons can be drawn between his two best-known characters. He argues that except for the time travel and saving Earth parts, the roles are quite different. Hunter’s chief motivation is less about saving the world and more about getting revenge for the family Savage took away from him.
“I was so proud to have played the role on ‘Doctor Who’ at that time in my career,” Darvill says. “It was a period when I was learning so much, and I got to play a character who went from being a bit meek and a little nervous to being a bit of a hero. Now I am playing a hero who is doing what he has to for a very specific reason.”
The creators of “DC Legends” dipped deep into the DC Comics archives for Rip Hunter. The time-traveling character was introduced in 1959 and had a long run through the early ‘60s. But, Hunter has not been one of the prominent DC characters over the past four decades.
Darvill, an English actor, was more of a cartoon fan than comic book reader growing up. Add that to the fact he wasn’t born until almost two decades after Rip Hunter’s heyday and Darvill didn’t know much about the character. He was supplied with comics to help him understand the background. Darvill actually laughed the first time he saw Rip Hunter, who was drawn in the ‘60s as the typical All-American hero with a chiseled chin. His look is a little more on the scruffy side.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the time travel elements in “DC Legends,” but the producers promise that all of the questions will be answered as the series goes along.
The size of the cast means an assortment of actors to work alongside.
“The fact that you can get an actor of the caliber of Victor Garber on a show like this speaks volumes about how good these shows have become,” Williams says. “With the scale of the sets and the caliber of actors, it is like we are making a feature film every week. I read the scripts and think ‘How are we going to shoot this?’ It’s almost an impossible task but somehow we are getting through it.”
“DC Legends” executive producer Greg Berlanti says the real key is the story. Once the decision was to have Rip Hunter in the show, the story built around time travel was born.
And, part of that story is that Rip Hunter gets extremely frustrated because not every member of his team takes the mission seriously. In fact, Captain Cold and Heat Wave have only agreed to be on the mission because it gives them more time periods to loot.
“Rip thinks out of necessity that he has to be slightly outside the group to be able to lead the group. He is exasperated by the bickering. But, I think, only through lightness does the darkness get highlighted,” Darvill says. “Rip only expects this show to last for one episode. And when it starts to kind of fall apart, he’s really frustrated. But he doesn’t want to spend any time with these people. He hasn’t chosen it because he likes them, and there is a job to do, so I enjoy the balance.”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
- 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, KFRE