‘Arrow’ Execs Cite ‘Doctor Who’ as Influence, Discuss Casting John Barrowman

John Barrowman from ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’. (Photo: Starz/BBC)

We’ve been seeing a lot of John Barrowman on American TV lately, between his enormously entertaining appearances on BBC AMERICA’s Brit List and Doctor Who specials and his charming cameo at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Now he’s nabbed a recurring part of the CW sci-fi series Arrow, and the show’s co-creators Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim have discussed, in an interview with Collider, casting the man behind Doctor Who‘s Captain Jack in what they call a very different role.

Kreisberg says, “I’m a lifelong Doctor Who fan. Like Peter Davison/Colin Baker, lifelong fan. So, when John Barrowman’s name came up for this part, they said, ‘Well, you should call him, Andrew,’ which was amazing.

“I basically laid out the plan that we had for his character, and who he is and how he relates to everybody and what’s going on because we didn’t have a lot written, and I said, ‘So, I guess I’m asking you to take a leap of faith.’

“He said, “It’s funny, seven years ago, [former Doctor Who showrunner] Russell T Davies told me to take a leap of faith with him, and I hear your passion and creativity the way I heard his. So, let’s do it!”…

Kreisberg adds, describing Barrowman’s enigmatic “well-dressed man” character: “What’s most exciting is that he’s not playing Jack.”

Guggenheim praises Barrowman’s performance: “Whenever I see the dailies with him, the word that literally always comes to my mind is, ‘Magnetic.’ He is incredibly magnetic, and incredibly charming… He lights up the screen and he really energizes the actors that he has scenes with.”

Arrow is based on the story of the comic book hero Green Arrow and has been compared to The Dark Knight. But Kreisberg cites Doctor Who and Buffy the Vampire Slayer as major influences on their storytelling structure: “People like Joss Whedon, Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat are really amazing about making you feel like you had a complete meal, and yet leaving you hungry for more.

“Especially with shows like Buffy and Doctor Who, there’s a big bad and an overall story that feels like it comes to a completion, and we’ve definitely set that up. We have ways for that story to come to an end, and yet leave you feeling like there are a lot of unanswered questions, and that it’s going to take you into the next season. All of these kinds of genre shows, if they don’t feel like complete seasons, there’s something not quite right. You want to feel like you saw Chapter 1.”

Are you looking forward to John Barrowman’s role on Arrow?

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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