"Arrow's" Echo Kellum is Ready to Make Star City Terrific

Introduced in last week's "Arrow" episode, "The Candidate," actor Echo Kellum's technological wizard -- and future Mr. Terrific -- Curtis Holt finds himself in hot water at Palmer Industries when he creates an algorithm used to determine which workers should be fired from the company. So far, Curtis has seen little action outside of the boardroom, much less as a costumed superhero. But that's all about to change when the evil metahuman known as Double Down (JR Bourne) pays Curtis and Felicity a visit.

Though Kellum's background is in comedy, as a former performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and member of the Groundlings, as Holt, he'll bring to life serious moments, including some that hew a bit close to home. "I was partially raised by LGBT parents," Holt says, expressing his important it is to him that his character is both gay and married. "I have close friends in the LGBT community. All of them come up to me and tell me how proud they are that I can represent that on TV."

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Ahead of tonight's episode of "Arrow," Kellum spoke with CBR about reinterpreting Mr. Terrific for The CW's burgeoning Arrowverse. In addition to Kellum teasing the debut of an early iteration of his character's signature T-Spheres ("possibly in this week's episode"), we discussed the never ending debate of science versus magic, the chemistry he quickly found with co-star Emily Bett Rickards, and which Mr. Terrific costume accessory is sacred.

CBR News: The comic book version of Mr. Terrific can be rather intense. What is your sense of "Arrow's" take on the character?

Echo Kellum: In the breakdown, they really touched upon his intelligence. He did have this charismatic aura about him. At first, when I auditioned for it, they didn't say who the character was. It was a codename, but they definitely said he was incredibly smart and charismatic. So when I went to audition, that was something that drew me into the role.

Was it a challenge to master Curtis' high energy and rapid dialogue?

It really just comes so naturally from the dialogue. The way that they write it, that really played suit to the energy I bring to the character. He's pretty smart and fast. He has a lot of intricate things to say. That was something else that pulled me in, too. I love science in my real life. I don't feel it was too hard to tap into, and to tap into that energy, but it was something I felt I could bring naturally to the role.

Curtis doesn't make the first best impression on Felicity. What's been fun about exploring the dynamic between your characters?

Emily is such a talented and fun actress to play off of. Our natural silliness as people rubbed off on our characters. From day one, scene one, we just felt like, "Oh, this is really working." The producers kind of got that when I went in and auditioned. Casting director David Rapaport mentioned, "You'll play really well off each other." You kind of got some of that from my personality in general, and with hers. We meshed well.

As it turns out, Curtis is happily married with a husband. What does it mean to you to be an openly gay character on a superhero television series?

It means a lot to me. I was partially raised by LGBT parents. I have close friends in the LGBT community. All of them come up to me and tell me how proud they are that I can represent that on TV, that I could bring that to light. It's important to make sure that we have representation on media. Media really paved the way for society's acceptance in a lot of ways. It's an amazing honor, responsibility and privilege to be able to play this kind of character.

In the comics, the modern era Mr. Terrific was born out of tragedy when his wife and child were killed. How would Curtis handle his husband's murder?

I think pretty similar to how Michael probably handled it. Curtis' husband means a lot of him. To have to deal with that loss might push him in a similar trajectory that it pushed Michael, which was a dark place. He then just delved deeply into science and science only. I feel Curtis could possibly have the same trajectory.

In tonight's episode, Double Down confronts Curtis and Felicity while searching for Green Arrow. How does Curtis fare in a scrap, much less one against a metahuman?

Initially, Curtis is very shocked and perplexed. He's never had to experience any of this up close and personal, even though, being a citizen of Star City, you'd think he would have to on a regular basis. He has no idea the Green Arrow is in any way connected to Felicity. Obviously, he's aware of this hero that has been involved in the city for years and years. At first, he's taking it all in. But, Curtis is no slouch. He can still kick ass. He can pull some things that Michael had in the comic books.

What else is in store for Curtis over the next few weeks?

You can expect to see why he is doing any of this; his true perspective of what he wants to accomplish in life, and what he wants to do for the city and people in general. You see a little glimpse into his origins of wanting to do more, of wanting to help people. You'll get a little slice of that.

I'm really excited to see whether he gets to that place where he wants to become Mr. Terrific. Obviously, I don't know what's going to happen yet. I'm sure the producers will do things differently and have their own way they want to see him go there. I loved to see these characters transition into becoming heroes, whether it was Laurel finally taking on the mantle of Black Canary or Roy when he became Arsenal. I just love seeing them step into that fray, that they wanted to put themselves on the line to protect the city.

With Damien Darhk lurking in Star City, are you looking forward to seeing how science performs against magic?

Absolutely. That's always a phenomenal subject to broach in fantasy because science is trying to make sense of everything and magic throws all those rules out the door. It will be interesting to see Curtis, Felicity and Team Flash not only rely on strength, arrows and brute force, but also have to use their brains and science to try to figure out a way to contain the supernatural aspects of Damien Darhk.

What kind of discussions have you had with the producers over Mr. Terrific's weapon of choice, his T-Spheres?

We have discussed them. They make an appearance -- possibly in this week's episode, or at least one of the earlier iterations of them. They are definitely something we are talking about that Mr. Terrific will probably have at his disposal when he becomes a hero.

If Curtis does go down the superhero path, which Mr. Terrific costume should he adopt?

All of them are pretty dope. Regardless of the costume, you've got to have a "T" on the face. I hope. Got to have that. But, I'd be happy if it was sleeves off with "Fair Play" tattoos on his arms. There will be a lot of fun little spoilers to his future in these first couple of episodes.

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