Promoting the upcoming episode “Suicidal Tendencies,” the actor posted a photo of his character, John Diggle, packing some heavy artillery alongside Suicide Squad members Lyla Michaels, Deadshot and new recruit Cupid. The group — which typically consists of villains who partake in dangerous government missions in exchange for lighter sentences and atonement for their crimes — has been led in the past by a reluctant Diggle. Now, circumstances dictate that he do so once again — and he may actually be much more willing to do so than in the past.
Ahead of the Squad’s latest mission, Ramsey spoke with CBR News about his character’s conflict and growing relationship with Deadshot, and the introduction of H.I.V.E. Plus, Ramsey weighs in on whether Diggle should don a mask in order to protect his identity while working with Team Arrow, especially now that he has a wife and child to go home to.
CBR News: Diggle started out as Oliver Queen’s bodyguard. In what ways has his sense of justice changed since those early days?
David Ramsey: I think he’s always had a strong sense of what’s right and wrong, even to the point of being rigid to some degree. His wife-to-be, Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson), even calls him in that in one of the Suicide Squad episodes. I think what he’s doing is right and he’s become more entrenched in that righteousness. The city needs saving — it’s worth saving — and those ideas have become more entrenched in him.
Diggle had a great speech with Oliver when he first joined the team, telling Oliver he doesn’t know what it means to just arbitrarily kill people and what that does to your soul. Ultimately, Oliver Queen has become the hero Diggle envisioned him to be. Now, is the sweet spot. He looks at Oliver and the way they are carrying out justice within Starling City. It is what he always envisioned it being — at least with what Oliver’s doing. Obviously, there are difficulties with Canary and the League of Assassins.
How does Diggle think Team Arrow did in Oliver’s absence, and what did they learn through this ordeal?
Philosophically, they all dialed into why they are doing this. They all have their own reasons, and those reasons are valid. Oliver’s crusade has become all of their crusades, for different reasons. They’ve come to a place where they understand in a more concrete way why they are here.
Physically, they learned logistically just what the unit is and how it is run without Oliver. They’ve learned about the physical demands of protecting Starling City.
How strange was it not having Stephen Amell around as much for those few episodes?
It was very strange. There was a lot of me, Colton [Haynes], Emily [Bett Rickards] and Katie [Cassidy]. When Stephen came back, physically and emotionally, that energy was back in the room. It wasn’t a huge adjustment, but he was very missed and his absence was very noticed.
One of last week’s bombshells was Oliver turning to Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) for help to defeat Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). We know what Felicity thinks of that. How does it sit with Diggle?
It’s no secret that Diggle doesn’t trust Merlyn any further than he can throw him. Ultimately, and Diggle will say this in later episodes, he’s come out of this whole thing as being the Yoda of the group, if you will. His wisdom is without peer. He says something very interesting to Oliver in later episodes, which is, he understands the egotistical reason why you have to face someone who has beaten you, why you have to go back into that lion’s den again.
Diggle is Oliver’s right-hand man. He’s accepted that’s where he is. He loves that position. He will always have Oliver’s back. Even though he despises Merlyn, Diggle understands why Oliver has to do this and why he has to risk his life to face Ra’s al Ghul again, if that’s what is to happen. We’ll see Diggle talk about how much he gets it in later episodes.
What did you think of the scene where Diggle refuses Merlyn’s offer to combine their forces?
That was fantastic. Philosophically, that’s where Diggle has always been. He’s understood that, “How many lives do you have to take before you are considered a murderer?”
And any time you work with John Barrowman is great. John is one of these guys who is not afraid to make it big and nefarious. At the same time, you can see behind the eyes that he really puts a conviction in Malcolm Merlyn. Malcolm really does believe in this. That scene was part and parcel of who Diggle is.
You recently tweeted a picture of Diggle, Lyla, Cupid and Deadshot together. What’s it like, to be revisiting the Suicide Squad?
It feels awesome. When we first made the episode, “Suicide Squad,” Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti got a lot of emails about, “Is this a backdoor pilot?” I would like to think because of the overall response to the episodes with the Suicide Squad, it maybe had a little bit to do with pushing along the upcoming movie that they are doing. These things are on the table and slated to go months, or even years, before they start, but I like to think that they looked at us and went, “Look how successful it is. Maybe we can take this part of it, or that part.”
I do think we did a very good job bringing that team to television. Suicide Squad and the characters are so rich, it could easily live on its own. I love Diggle’s character in this, because the missions they go on are always noble, in the sense we have to take out a bad guy and there’s something righteous about that. But, putting bombs in the back of people’s heads and detonating them when they don’t do what they tell you to do, that isn’t Diggle’s way. What’s also interesting is now Lyla is part of it. She works for A.R.G.U.S., so it’s a very interesting dynamic.
Can you tease what reunites the Suicide Squad? How do Diggle and Lyla get involved?
Diggle’s wife-to-be is a big part of the reason why he gets involved in this mission. It has less to do with Amanda Waller — in fact, Diggle is more of a willing participant with Task Force X, aka the Suicide Squad, this time than ever before. He almost volunteers to go. His arm isn’t twisted like the first time he joined them. That might be a sign of things to come in terms of his willingness to work with his wife more.
Is all the bad blood between Diggle and Deadshot (Michael Rowe) under the bridge now?
I think Diggle has dialed into Floyd Lawton’s humanity. When they teamed up before, he learned about Floyd’s daughter and the fact he sends money home to her and he’s estranged from her. Diggle knows this guy was just a hired gun. There’s somebody behind him pulling the strings. There’s a puppet master. That was H.I.V.E. We have not forgotten about H.I.V.E. and we’re really going to get to them big time, certainly next season, and maybe even this season. I don’t think Diggle has forgiven Floyd altogether, but he understands who he is a lot better and sees him as a valuable part of Task Force X.
What else is on tap for Diggle and Team Arrow heading into February sweeps?
The League of Assassins. Ra’s al Ghul. This is the big baddie. There’s a great line from last season where Oliver said, “If Ra’s al Ghul finds out what we did, we’ll all pay.” That sentiment is going to be echoed in the latter part of season three. Ra’s al Ghul is not done with Team Arrow. We’re really gearing up to a showdown.
With the exception of Felicity, every member of Team Arrow has a costume. Would you like Diggle to adopt a secret identity? Maybe Wildcat?
There’s an idea. There are a lot of names being thrown around for John Diggle. Wildcat. Green Lantern. The idea of who Diggle is and the accessibility he has is something that is fantastic. He’s probably the most well-adjusted of all the characters on the show. He’s dealt with his crucible. He can have a life, a child and be a hero. There is no conflict. Laurel Lance is now Black Canary, wearing the costume to respect her dead sister. Arsenal is still dealing with the fact he’s killed a cop. Oliver is dealing with five years on the island and not being able to connect. Diggle is the one who is accessible, the one who can be relatable to everyone.
There’s something to be said about covering that up with a mask. Putting him in the field when he has a child and wife at home, with no mask, while everyone around him is in mask, that has not gone unnoticed by the fans or us. There will be an answer to that. There will be something that will be applied that conceals his identity. Is that Wildcat? Is that the Lantern? I don’t know, specifically, but there will certainly be something happening later on in this season and into next season that answers that question. Diggle has to protect his identity. Would he make a good Wildcat? Sure.
Lastly, how gratifying was it to get an early pick-up for a fourth season?
It’s amazing. There was an event we did in Pasadena. All the people who wear masks or uniforms on “Flash” and “Arrow” were invited. Peter Roth from Warner Bros. came in, and he’s like, “I’ve known this for a couple of months already, but I’ve got to let everybody know that you’ve been picked up for a fourth season.” They already knew. For an early pick-up, they knew even earlier. That type of response to this show has just been great.
As an actor, being in a show where you get this kind of response and early pick-ups and the worldwide fanbase that’s just been growing, it’s fantastic. I don’t think it’s any small secret that “Arrow” has something to do with “Gotham” coming to being, and “Constantine” and “Flash.” Now, “Supergirl” is being shot. The success of “Arrow” has something to do with that. I’m thanking my lucky stars every single day. To play a character like John Diggle is awesome.