Meet the Anti-Monitor. Though he hasn't arrived yet in the Arrowverse, he will make his grand entrance in time for "Crisis on Infinite Earths," this year's major crossover. LaMonica Garrett, who plays this universe-ending villain, promises he will bring total annihilation with him when he does.
Speaking with CBR, Garrett offered some insight into the Anti-Monitor and his brother the Monitor. He revealed the Anti-Monitor will appear "very soon," teased his "evil" goal and explained why he is based more on the New 52 version of the character that appeared in Darkseid Wars. He shared why this sibling duo has been the most challenging, but most fun role in his career and how playing two characters in the same event dredged up some logistical nightmares for filming. He also hinted at the "history" between the Monitor and Lyla Michaels, compared the conclusion of the event to comic books and more.
CBR: You didn't find out you were playing the Monitor until after you'd been cast, but how quickly did you find out you were playing the Anti-Monitor?
Garrett: I had no idea until, like, maybe three episodes, four episodes into this current season? I didn't know. Yeah, they didn't let me know. And when Marc Guggenheim told me, it was fantastic. It was like, "Oh, yeah, have you seen the new specs for the Anti-Monitor yet?" I'm like, "No, no, why would I?" I almost asked him, "Who did you guys cast?" And he's like, "You know you're playing it, right?" No, I didn't know! That would be something I would love to know about, you know, ahead of time? I didn't know! I gave him a hug, like, "Oh, are you serious?! You're not messing with me?" And he's like, "No, you're the Anti-Monitor!" Life is crazy, man. It keeps coming out in layers of just fun stuff, you know, that's affiliated with this whole crossover. I was excited when I found out, to say the least.
The Anti-Monitor is, obviously, the opposite of the Monitor, so how did you change your approach for the character?
Just like with any other character, I would ask myself, "What does this character want?" and "What's gonna happen if he doesn't get it?" That raises his stakes. That kind of lets you know who he is, as the actor, so I know how to take a different approach. I just keep asking questions. I think, with the Anti-Monitor, there's just evil. There's no greater purpose. He's not doing something for, you know, "It's going to be better for these people, but I have to do this horrible thing first." There's none of that. He is just evil. That's kind of fun to play. All that stuff is out the window and it's just total annihilation.
Just how different is your version of the Anti-Monitor from the comics?
That was more of the writers' doing, and they did a great job. It's hard to adapt everything from page to screen, especially something [with] the stakes that... Crisis on Infinite Earths [had] in the comic book, but they brought a lot of that to the page. With that came a lot of who the Anti-Monitor was and what he wanted. I think it's very similar, aside from the fact that -- and he could still very well have it -- but the exact appearance as the Anti-Monitor from the comic book. They did more of a New 52 Anti-Monitor, from the Darkseid Wars. So, aside from that, I think it's pretty spot on.
At Comic-Con International in San Diego, we chatted a bit about how long it takes to get into the Monitor's makeup. It looks like the Anti-Monitor is a whole different ballgame. What was that experience like for you?
That's why this whole "Crisis" is probably the most challenging thing I did, like shooting-schedule-wise, because it's two hours to get into it, and it's about 20-25 minutes to get out of it. So we're gonna start shooting today at 5:30, 6 o'clock. I gotta get there at 4 o'clock. So we're there, you know, with my makeup team and we're in the chair for a couple of hours and then you go shoot.
There were some days where I would shoot for four, five, six hours with the Anti-Monitor, and then 25 minutes to get out of it. Then I would change into the Monitor, and that's another hour and some change, you know, for the braids and the beard. So it's back in the chair again for another hour and 15 minutes. You shoot the rest of that day as the Monitor, and then it's like 10-15 minutes to get out of that.
So you're working 15-hour days just to show up the next day at 4 am, wash, rinse, repeat. You're doing it all over again. So it was limited sleep. That was just the sitting in the chair and the sleeping part. Then you have the work that's all in between. Between the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, those are two pretty big characters for "Crisis." So I had a heavy workload as well. It was difficult.
Tell me more about what it was like to film as the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor at more or less the same time.
It was a challenge, especially on certain days where I do needed to be -- like, the days where I was on one set doing both characters was -- it was still challenging, but at least logistically, it was feasible, like I was there. But there were times where, say, I'm on Arrow all day, and then I have to be on Legends [of Tomorrow] at night, and Arrow ran over. So now I'm holding everybody up for Legends which, you know, it's not my fault, but that's shooting.
And you're shooting outside, in Vancouver. There were days where it was just pouring down, like just raining, raining, raining, and you're trying to get your shot, because it's not just me, but other actors have other shows to go film on. It was chaotic, but it was chaotic in the best possible way. It was that rush that you only read about, that now you're in it, and it was just fun, like just the energy of it, making this project and running all around doing it.
There's pictures right now, from the paparazzi or whoever taking pictures of the people on set, like doing certain things. There's one that said, "First look at the Anti-Monitor filming with all the other heroes." And that was my double! That wasn't even me. That was because I couldn't be in both places. I was over here filming this. Then we tried to make it but they realized it wasn't going to happen. So they got my double dressed and they kind of cheated and did the stuff from behind me to get other people's footage and some stunts and stuff. But yeah, it was challenging, but it was the most fun I've ever had doing it.
What is the Anti-Monitor's relationship with his brother like?
That's another reason... they went the New 52 route for the Anti-Monitor. You know, people want the big helmet and the big android-looking machine that was in the original comic book. But I think the fact that they really played up that these two do mirror each other, these two are like brothers. They're exactly the same, except the positive matter universe and the anti-matter, you know what I mean? So I think just having both of them, you know, even clothes they're wearing -- like they have similar garments, just different colors: darker and lighter and more colorful. But it's like these two do mirror each other and playing both of them, it was a trip.
I've been playing the Monitor a little while longer, so I've kind of got him down, but getting into the Anti-Monitor... Again, sometimes for actors, you put the work in, you ask all the questions, you do all your prep work for the character, but sometimes you have to put them on, to actually walk around in whatever he's wearing. You know, if you're like a high-powered lawyer or banker, if you're trying to find this character with tennis shoes on, you might not find him, but as soon as you put on a suit and that whole feel, it makes you walk a little different. It makes you carry yourself a little different.
I really didn't find the Anti-Monitor until I was able to put everything on and walk around with him for like an hour before we started shooting. I did all my prep work and all my homework, but there's something to be said for putting it on and just physically being in that skin. It makes you talk a little different. You walk a little different, you know? I found that to be very helpful, putting everything on -- even the contacts, even the blue eyes -- and kind of feeling around and how you carry yourself.
How definitive is the ending to "Crisis on Infinite Earths?" Is it a closed book, with all the loose ends tied up, or is there a hint at what might happen in next year’s crossover?
I think, with comic books period, it's always open-ended. Nothing's ever definitive. Even back in the day, like when Doomsday killed Superman, but then he came back. So, you know, stuff happens. I don't want to give too much away with the crossover. But, you know, in the comic book world... Like I was joking around with one of the producers, and we're talking about The Princess Bride and there was a scene in The Princess Bride where it's like, "Is he a little dead or is he all the way dead?" Billy Crystal's character. To me, that's the comic book world: "Is he dead, or is he just a little dead? Which 'dead' is he?" So, you know, we'll see what happens, but I think the writers are creative, and that's the base of it.
How soon will we see the Anti-Monitor in the Arrowverse?
I think you'll see him pretty soon. It's not going to be at the end of "Crisis." His presence will be felt before you physically see him and that's already been happening. I think that's great, how they layer it out when you see certain characters and when you don't. It's not over-saturated. You see just enough of him to know this guy means business, but it's not in your face in every scene leading up to "Crisis." I think they did a great job of that, without giving too much away. But you'll know he's around and, when you see him, it'll definitely be felt.
Which hero were you most excited to work with? Why?
Really, the Kingdom Come Superman, Brandon [Routh]. That suit, to me, was the best suit on set. It's funny because actors would come up to me and they'd be like, "Oh, that suit!" Like, this is their first time seeing it in person. The Monitor has a great suit! He has a great getup. It's uncomfortable and it hurts. It's not a fun suit to be in. But aesthetically, it's cut directly from the page. It looks the part and it's a throwback to the older way of comic books, when all these new suits were new and modern and sleek and aerodynamic, and the Monitor is like clunking around. So people loved my suit, but that Kingdom Come Superman, it was something about that black "S" background that was just awesome to me seeing that for the first time.
In a recent episode of Arrow, we found out the Monitor has been secretly working with Lyla Michaels. How soon will we learn more about that?
I think, each episode, they're gonna unpeel layers and layers of that onion as it goes along and as "Crisis" begins, and that was one of my favorite things. When I read the scripts, I'm reading it as the actor, like, "Alright, what's going on? What do I have to do?" But I'm also reading it as a fan. And when I first read... that she gets out of her car and she's walking, and then she meets with the Monitor, it blew my mind, like, "Yes!" Because Lyla -- the name, they've had her around since Season 1 or 2 -- they've been laying breadcrumbs for years in the whole Arrowverse, and having that moment culminate with -- you know Lyla Michaels, just the significance of who she is and who she turns into -- seeing them meet together, that was great for me. It was a great payoff. They're going to dig more and more into that as each episode goes along, and especially when "Crisis" starts.
What is their dynamic like?
In the comic book, it was more of a father/daughter kind of thing, like he raised her. With the show, it's hard to adapt everything from the comic book directly as it was, just because it's just not. It's too hard to do, especially in television. It's going to be a unique relationship, but it's going to be one that you can tell that they've been together for a while. This isn't something that just -- how he came to Oliver and how he came to Flash and just started telling them what to do, it wasn't one of those kind of relationships. They have history, and I think that's the fun part of watching it is to see how the history started with them and how deep it is. That's going to be something I think audiences will really like. You'll see a different side of both characters.
How does the Monitor's relationship with Oliver continue to evolve?
I think it's natural that Oliver is questioning the Monitor, especially seeing certain things happen. You know, all these Earths are [being] destroyed and you're behind it and you're trying to tell me we're doing something for a greater good? At some point, any person would be like, "I don't know if I'm doing the right thing." Then, when you have that voice in your ear of the people that are close to you, like a Diggle telling you like, "No, we shouldn't be doing this."
But I think that's what drama is. That's what makes this fun. That's what brings the friction to each scene and each encounter between Oliver and the Monitor gets heightened and heightened because of it. There's stuff coming up... that's really gonna make him question his relationship with the Monitor and you can only imagine what's going to happen the next time they see each other, like anger, but that's what makes it fun.
Another great thing, you talked about the Anti-Monitor being laid out in certain ways, where they're doing a great job of it. The Monitor is the same. Right when you forget about the Monitor, he shows back up, not just on Arrow but all the shows. It just reminds you of the "Crisis" that's looming and it reminds the audience that "Crisis" is looming, but it also reminds the characters. So it keeps that foot on the gas and accelerates the story, steamrolling right into when the "Crisis" starts. All the shows being interrelated, "Crisis"-wise, was brilliant and they've been setting that up for a while.
Can you tease your favorite moment or scene from an upcoming episode?
Probably my favorite moment and scene was that meeting in little alley with Lyla Michaels, the Harbinger. That just happened, but that was one I was geeked out about when I read that.
There's moments coming up with other characters that it's going to be -- well, no, I don't want to say that. There's a spoiler, but it's something coming that's a funny interaction that starts out funny with one of the characters and then it takes another serious turn because that's what the Monitor does. The reaction of one of the characters when they meet him for the first time, it's going to be humorous.
The Arrowverse is unique, in that the multiverse allows the same actor to play multiple other roles. If you could choose any other dream character to play, who would it be?
Ah, that's a tricky question. I think, if I had a list of five things to play in the Arrowverse, what I'm doing now would be in the top three. Monitor and Anti-Monitor, knowing how big the "Crisis" is -- to me, it doesn't get any bigger. I don't know! Maybe like a Val-Zod Superman would be up there.
That's tricky, because certain actors are hinted or are playing certain characters already, and you don't want to step on those toes. I'm trying to think of characters that haven't made an appearance yet, and I think Val-Zod would be awesome to play in the Arrowverse.
"Crisis on Infinite Earths" begins Sunday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Supergirl, then continues in Batwoman on Monday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and in The Flash on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. After the winter hiatus, the crossover will conclude on Tuesday, Jan. 14 in Arrow at 8 p.m. ET/PT and in DC's Legends of Tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET/PT.