Considering Oliver Queen’s previous encounters with Ra’s al Ghul and Nyssa, it was probably only a matter of time before his other daughter, Talia, entered the "Arrow" picture.
A lethal assassin in her own right, in DC Comics' lore, Talia has been an ally, a lover and an enemy to Batman. As there is no Batman in the Arrowvrse, this Talia instead finds herself involved with Green arrow. This season, it's been revealed that she was the one who rescued Oliver from Ishmael Gregor and then proceeded to push him into fulfilling his destiny. Talia has trained Oliver, but she’s also an al Ghul. Can she be trusted? Does the apple fall far from the psychotic family tree?
Doig recently spoke with CBR about making Talia a badass, mentoring Oliver, her possible connections to Prometheus and the inevitable showdown with Nyssa.
CBR: Obviously, "Arrow's" writers didn’t simply want to recycle what had been done with Ra’s al Ghul or Nyssa. How is Talia different than her father and half-sister?
Lexa Doig: It’s hard to say. This is my interpretation of it: Talia left the League of Assassins and forged her own way in the world, and her way is more in the real world as opposed to influencing events from the periphery. She may have a more direct hand, yet she’s very Talia al Ghul in that mentality of, “Why do it myself when I can get someone else to do it for me?” She is still someone who is a bit of a chess master. That would be my interpretation. All of my stuff has been with Stephen Amell, and it’s all been the flashback training. There hasn’t really been a reference for me of how she operates outside of that context.
In Talia’s first appearance, she disposed of Oliver’s assailants and rescued him. What did you enjoy about what that said about Talia?
The funny thing that I enjoyed about that introduction, from a completely technical perspective, is that it was one shot. That was the only thing I did the entire episode, but what a cool entrance. What it said was how badass the character is, taking out all those guys without batting an eyelash, and just stepping in with this mysterious, “Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you.”
Genre fans know you from “Jason X,” “Andromeda,” “Stargate SG-1,” and “Continuum.” What’s it been like joining the DC Universe?
It’s been so much fun. My ultimate goal – and I really want this, so I am putting it out in the universe – is I want Talia to have a Funko Pop! character. In my mind, I will have arrived if I can bring home a Funko Pop! character, a little figurine, and show it to my kids and say, “See. Mommy is cool.”
What did you make of Talia’s costume? Did it help you get into character?
What I love about the costume is how badass it makes me look. What made me laugh about the costume is the logistics of being in a superhero costume. They don’t tell you the quirks. For example, the quiver that goes in the back is often like a cone that your cat wears when he comes home from the vet. You’re not aware of it, you go to walk through a doorway, you slam your quiver into the side and you get stuck. Or the hood, when it’s up. My hood has to have a certain thickness. It’s made out of leather, so it stands up and looks nice, but then you have no peripheral vision and you can’t hear anything.
Then, there are these amazing side harnesses they have for me and they squeak a bit when I walk. The thing that I found funny about my very first day on set was walking around and looking so incredibly badass, but sounding like [makes squeaking noises]. As I walk, I’m bumping into things. I can’t hear what anybody says. I can’t see anything. It was just funny. Those are the hilarious things you discover about playing a badass, and how awkward it is. I have such respect for everyone on the show who has to wear these incredible costumes and stand there, looking badass and fighting and doing all the cool stuff. You have to overcome this hurdle of [squeaking sounds] and catching your cape on the back of your quiver.
When she arrives, Oliver was a lost soul. What does Talia see in him?
I think she saw potential. Oliver is somebody who is savage. He’s incredibly adept at what he wants to accomplish, but is a little directionless. He is on the side of good in those circumstances. It’s a bit murky and gray in the question of how he’s going to accomplish his goals, though. I don’t think that moral gray area is a difficult place for Talia to inhabit. She’s quite comfortable living there herself. What she saw in Oliver is the fact that he’s an incredible killer, and he’s doing it for the right reasons. She’s trying to point him in the right direction of what he really wants to accomplish.
Do you consider Talia a hero, wanting to make the city a better place out of the goodness of her heart? Does Oliver serve her agenda?
He sort of serves her agenda. I used to play Dungeons & Dragons when I was younger, and Talia strikes me as someone who is neutral in that it’s a balance, but maybe adding into that a little bit on the chaotic evil side. She has things she wants to accomplish, and she’s going to accomplish them by any means necessary. If it turns out to have positive ramifications and be a good thing, then “Yay” for everybody. If it doesn’t, it sucks to be anybody but her.
She's described as “an elite warrior.” Where do you feel she ranks among the other League of Assassin members and Oliver?
Right up there. After a certain point, when you're that good, it’s a matter of substance. Anybody can accomplish the things they need to accomplish. It’s just a matter of how they go about doing it. When you compare all the various superheroes and supervillains – and you have these wonderful theoretical discussions of who would win between Nyssa and Talia – it largely ends up being a draw. Or, when you get two really good hockey teams playing against each other, sometimes it just goes your way, and sometimes it doesn’t. I think they're all elite.
Audiences have only gotten a taste of what Talia is capable of. Are we going to see more of her fighting prowess?
A little bit. I had a really great stunt double. I didn’t do a ton of it. You do see a little bit of it, but not a ton. The storyline really isn’t about how badass she is. It’s more about Talia helping Oliver find himself and find the Hood. Again, what seperates Talia from Nyssa and Ra’s is her ability to operate in the real world, the not-so-secret world. As accomplished as she is as a fighter, some of Talia’s strengths may lie in her intellect and her ability to read or manipulate a situation and play the long game. She’s someone who knows things and has the patience to play the long game.
So far, the series has only scratched the surface between Talia and Oliver. What can you tease about how that relationship unfolds?
She does what she set out to do. She very rarely doesn’t succeed at what she wants to accomplish. At this point, what she wants to accomplish is to help Oliver make peace with the savage side of himself and find a way to partition that into a place where he feels very comfortable with his alter-ego, whether the alter-ego is Arrow or Oliver Queen. That’s for him to decide, but it’s for whatever part of him that needs to exist in the real, above-ground, legit world versus the one that exists in the shadows. I do believe she actually accomplishes her goals.
Will viewers eventually get to see Talia in present day?
I don’t know. I will plead the fifth. I will say that Oliver seems to think that some of her interactions from the past may leave echoes in the present day. I can’t tell you whether it’s correct or not, but he does have that theory.
Fans have speculated that Talia shares ties with Prometheus. Have you come across those presumptions? What are your thoughts on that possibility?
I have no idea who Prometheus is. I only ever work with Stephen because of the nature of the flashbacks. It’s funny, because even on the call sheets, when you are shooting scenes that have Prometheus in them, he’s not technically listed on the call sheet. The character is listed, but no performer or actor is listed as Prometheus. Even I, who works on the show, have no idea who Prometheus is. So, if Talia has connections to Prometheus, I don’t know about it.
Katrina Law has told me she would love for Nyssa and Talia to square off. How would you like to see their dynamic play out?
I would love that. Here’s my problem. My instinct is to always go for funny and comedy. It doesn’t always play well in the comic book world, because everything is always very high stakes, which is also fun. I think it would be hilarious if the two of them didn’t get along, but in a very modern-day, sibling kind of way. Maybe they butt heads, but it’s over somebody taking too much time in the bathroom. That would be hilarious, although the fight scene would look pretty badass. It would be a killer fight sequence. I’m also a family sap at heart, so I’d also love to see Talia and Nyssa fighting on the same side – and arguing with each other at the same time.