After a beloved run as companion Rory Pond on Doctor Who, actor Arthur Darvill returns midseason to all things time-y wime-y in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow The CW’s spinoff of The Flash and Arrow. Pop-Break sat down with the actor to discuss how his character Rip Hunter is different from the Doctor, what it’s like to lead a bunch of superheroes and villains and how the show’s space ship compares to the TARDIS.
So you’re a specialist in time travel?
Yeah, it’s just the only thing I can do.
So how are the rules different from Doctor Who?
There are different rules. I don’t want to give too much away, but their way of traveling is different. It has to do with the same things. I think the fact that history can be changed and what the responsibility of that is is such a fascinating thing to explore. It’s very different. I can’t say too much. It’s really cool and the first day I walked on the set to see our method of time travel, I was like a kid at Christmas.
Can you talk about the ship?
The ship’s amazing. [Takes out phone for a second then rethinks.] I’m not allowed to show you pictures, but it’s like the coolest set I’ve ever been on. It’s like all my childhood fantasies rolled into one. It’s just huge.
How’s it compare to the TARDIS?
The TARDIS is great. It’s an iconic thing, but this has a very different feel and brings together, like…. It’s on a massive scale. There’s lots of space to house these nine people who are on this big journey.
If you could travel through time and change the course of history, what would you do?
I just wouldn’t change anything. I’m that person who goes to bed at night and goes, “oh, I wish I’d have said that.” I’d go and change what happened just that day. I think the responsibility of changing anything before then is far too much. I know we’d come back and everyone’s got three boobs. “Oh no, I’ve messed it up.”
Like in a story like Run, Lola, Run, when you change one thing, you change a lot of events. Do you believe in that?
Yeah, absolutely, very much so. It’s what the whole show’s about, actually. It gets very confusing very quickly because you change one thing and then you change another thing. You go to a future where that’s all changed, so you got to the past and try and change all of that. Whilst trying to chase an immortal villain, it gets very complicated very quickly.
Now Rip knows these heroes and villains.
He’s done his research.
So how does he treat them? Does he treat them like he’s never met them before or does he treat them like how he knows them in the future?
He’s from far enough in the future to not have encountered them. He knows of them and he knows what their skills are. I don’t think he quite realizes what big personalities, how difficult they’re going to be. I think his plan is thought through to a point and then when he actually gets there, it’s a very different kettle of fish.
Your character has such a rich DC mythology, will we see a lot of that explored? Especially connections to characters like Booster Gold?
I hope so in the future. At the moment, it’s very much dealing with this story, but having read a lot of the comic books myself, I’m very excited to find out some of those other characters that he interacts with.
Is there a particular arc from DC comics for Rip that you would like to hypothetically jump into?
I think all the stuff with Booster Gold was great. All the Vanishing Point stuff, I thought, was really cool. That’s kind of an interesting thing to explore. But what I love about these shows is that they take the story somewhere new as well. I think it’s going to be very exciting for DC fans to see how these characters are going to interact together and where their story can all go together. It’s paying homage to the past stories and also giving something new.
Phil Klemmer talked about this show being an anthology where each season could be a little different, maybe a character or two that survives, new characters come in, but clearly your character is a linchpin for whatever this anthology thing could be. So was it weird for you sign onto something for 5 or 7 years that could be filming in Vancouver for the foreseeable future?
Yeah. It was a big decision to make, for me, as a human being. I have my family in England and all of that. And I always said if I did go into a big thing over in the States or Canada that it had to be the right thing and I really believe that this is the right thing. So it’s a big move, but I’m very excited about it.
When you sat down with Greg Berlanti and the creators, did they talk about the anthology idea? Did they say to you, “we’re going to start with this and then we have ideas if the show’s successful.” Did they tease you with that information?
Oh, they’ve teased me with loads of information. So, yeah, I know little bits and bobs. But also, like these things always are, that could all change. I think this show has the scope to run and run and run in different ways and there’s enough brilliant people and so many interesting characters to explore. We kind of get a taste of some of them in some earlier episodes. I’ve already read up to episode four now. So every time I get a script, I’m like, what are they going to put in? Because everyone’s character has got such great depth they’re really exploring. So I’m really excited to see where it can go.
What can you tease about the recruitment process of bringing everyone together?
The recruitment process is quite swift. I don’t think he wants to give them very much time to consider it and also, for him anyway, there’s very much a time pressure even though he can travel in time. There’s still very much a time pressure. I don’t want to say too much, but he’s thought through his plan to a point. And he doesn’t quite realize the bunch of people that he’s got together, quite how difficult they can be. The recruiting process is quite an interesting one and not everyone’s happy about it.
Catch Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter tonight on the premiere of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on The CW Network.