In “Arrow” Season 5’s flashbacks, Oliver Queen is Bratva — but he didn’t get there on his own. He had a little help from his friend Anatoly Knyazev, a prisoner he met on Lian Yu way back in Season 2. This season’s flashbacks stretch back to Oliver’s time with Anatoly in Russia, a previously unexplored period in Oliver’s life where he joined the Russian mob. As Oliver pursues vengeance against Kovar (Dolph Lundgren), Anatoly guides his path through the Bratva, but he may just have something else in mind for Oliver.
At the celebration for “Arrow’s” 100th episode, David Nykl — who plays Knyazev — spoke to CBR about his character’s evolution, whether or not Anatoly has ulterior motives and more.
Anatoly debuted all the way back in Season 2. Did you ever imagine this role becoming what it is today?
No, indeed! As a matter of fact, I think when I auditioned, it was the part of “prisoner.” My agent was like, “Well, it’s prisoner.” When it’s a situation as opposed to a name, you kind of go, “Well, that’s going to be a small part.” But, you know, my mom always said, “There’s no such thing as small parts, only small actors.” So I thought, “Ah, why not? What the heck!” I thought that would be just a one-or-two episode thing and it ended up being nine! You know, I got a name and became a friend of Oliver’s on the submarine. I thought that’s kind of all it would be. So I was very surprised when I got the call this year that I’d be recurring.
Though he’s helping Oliver out right now, is it possible he has any ulterior motives?
Is it possible that he has any ulterior motives? Look at me! Do I look like I have ulterior motives? I think given that he’s the Russian mafia, I think there’s probably something going on that neither you or I know yet. That’s all I can answer, because honestly that’s all I know!
Are you going to play a part in the 100th episode?
I can tell you that I’m not working in the 100th episode. I’m not in that. So whether there is a flashback is entirely possible, but I can tell you that it doesn’t have me in it. That’s all I can say, because that’s all I know, really!
Your character has really evolved over the course of this series, from a helping hand to a cold stone killer. What was that process like for you?
It’s a fine line. Calling someone a bad character is always a misnomer, because no one’s really bad; they’re either misunderstood or they’re just trying to do something and they’re not going about it the right way. I really think he’s just a simple sort of guy that has got caught up in deeper situations. There’s more to him than meets the eye.
Well, in the comics, he has a bigger role as the KGBeast. Are we going to hear any codenames or see Anatoly take on this comic book persona?
Mr. Andrew Kreisberg, the executive producer, is right beside me. Maybe you can ask him! I am aware that that is his alias; I haven’t heard or seen any indication yet that that may happen, but it may not as well. It’s hard getting answers out of us, isn’t it? Because in many cases we honestly don’t know!
Were you aware you character was in “Batman v Superman?”
Yes, I’m aware of that. I haven’t seen the movie. That’s a bit of a failing, there! No, I have heard that he’s there and you reminded me of something that I should do and watch out for that. No, I haven’t seen it yet.
Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Willa Holland and more.
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