ARROW: Seth Gabel Previews The Count Going Toe-to-Toe With Oliver in ‘Vertigo’
January 29, 2013 by Marisa Roffman
ARROW’s Oliver has faced his fair share of villains, but with his sister, Thea, getting wrapped up in the mayhem of a new street drug, Vertigo — which caused her car crash at the end of the last episode — Mr. Queen is out to make someone pay. And if Oliver’s angry, that doesn’t bode too well for The Count, the man responsible for this dangerous drug.
I spoke with ARROW newbie Seth Gabel — whom television viewers may remember from his time as Lincoln on Fox’s FRINGE or Jeremy Darling on ABC’s DIRTY SEXY MONEY — about playing The Count (a role he’s previously called “the most fun I’ve ever had”), getting to tap into his darker side, on-screen fighting, what viewers can expect from “Vertigo,” and more…
I have to say, it’s been fun seeing non-stop ads of your ARROW guest spot. You seem to be playing quite the deranged character!
Seth Gabel: They put some nice sound effects on there, too, which I was pleased about.
It’s been a couple of months since the news broke that you were cast on the show. What reactions have you been getting from people as it gets closer and closer to air?
SG: I was very happy, because I went to ADR a few weeks ago for ARROW and I saw Andrew Kreisberg there, the creator [of ARROW], who I hadn’t seen since I had done the work. And it was really interesting when I went there, because in TV you have to work so quickly, it’s difficult to get on the same page as to what you’re going to do with the character. And a lot of times you find yourself shooting right away [after you're cast].
What was great was Wendy [Mericle], the director, she helped me and gave me the permission to go fully out there with the character and do some takes with it that way, and also sometimes bring it back [in other takes], and make it a little more grounded in reality, because I really wanted to make sure I nailed the tone for the show. Because it’s a comic book world, but it’s also very believable.
And what was great was when I saw the clips I saw during ADR and spoke to Andrew, they seemed really happy with all of it. Especially with the blend we ended up shooting, because then we were able to put that together in the editing room and craft the levels of which The Count character gets bigger or smaller or more intense or more psychotic as the episode progresses.
Oh, that’s very cool. What can you tease about how they decided to go with your first scene? Were you a bit quieter, or did you come in with guns figuratively blazing?
SG: You see The Count, initially, in his psychotic element; in his sadistic element. You see he’s a person not to be messed with, and that’s firmly established, so when Oliver decides to mess with him, it’s definitely a clash of titans on some level.
Uh oh. What can you share about their first meeting?
SG: Our first meeting is not what you’d expect, because both characters are clever, so they’re not going to go head-to-head right away. I think it’s pretty intriguing how it all pans out…It’s possible there are police officers involved. [Laughs]
Are one of you two responsible for bringing the cops in to try and manipulate the other?
SG: Anything is possible. [Laughs]
Fair enough! What can you share about the drug itself?
SG: The Count is the purveyor of this drug, he’s the creator of this drug and he’s extremely proud of his creation, so he’s willing to defend whatever it takes to keep it on the street, to keep the money flowing in and the power increasing. And so he’s not to be messed with.
Does he have to do anything special to get it made?
SG: I think you’ll find out what it took to create it. You just have to tune in to find out.
Interesting. Are most of your scenes going toe-to-toe with Stephen Amell’s Oliver, or are you sharing scenes with anyone else?
SG: There are a couple of other people, but there’s a lot of toe-to-toe action.
Do you get to physically fight Stephen?
SG: I get to physically fight, and Stephen was around. And…I think that’s all I can say. [Laughs]
Was that at all intimidating? The show has been showing off Stephen’s fighting a lot on the series, and this is a new cast and crew for you…
SG: What was great about coming in to this show was I had gone up to Vancouver where ARROW and FRINGE shoot and I was doing both. What was great was I had worked with the stunt coordinator and a lot of the stunt team on FRINGE. And so I was really comfortable with that team. So going in, even though, yes, as a guest star, you are intimidated by the amount of experience other actors have on set doing the thing they’re doing, I felt very comfortable with that team. And Stephen was incredibly welcoming and even though his character is intimidating — and he can be physically intimidating — he was really generous in his level of support of me being able to do the things that would make the scene as great as possible. So I felt really comfortable there and had a great time with the stunt team and I feel like we got pretty good stuff.
Very good to hear. Was there anything you watched to prep for the role?
SG: Well, I worked pretty intuitively. I had gone on Wikipedia and had done some research online to see what the original character of Count Vertigo was like in the comic books. But [executive producer] Greg Berlanti and Andrew had kind of initially pitched the character to me as being a version of Heath Ledger’s Joker [from THE DARK KNIGHT]. And so, my main focus was to find what felt true to me and what wouldn’t be redundant of the Joker character in terms of having a real brazen relationship to violence and psychosis and megalomania and physical freedom. I think The Count ends up being a version of my intuitive crazy-violent side on some level.
Was there any scene in particular you enjoyed filming?
SG: I enjoyed all of the scenes. The first one was really fun; the first one you’ll see in the episode. Because it is The Count in his element, fully confident in his abilities and the havoc he could wreak on any individual and the suffering he could cause. And he just relishes it. So that was really fun to play.
Having permission to be so sadistically dark is really interesting when you have a wife and two kids at home and you’re a generally responsible person.
It’s a nice, safe outlet to do those things.
SG: Yeah. I’m always surprised by the fact that I can get paid as an actor, because it just feels like you get to have these emotional catharsis all the time. It’s just unlike any other job. It’s pretty incredible you get to do the things you do and there’s no consequence.
A good point. Has anything been firmed up about whether you’ll return to ARROW beyond this one episode?
SG: It’s possible those talks continued. And it’s possible The Count will be back. You just have to tune in to find out.
You’re a good tease. Is there anything else you want to tease about your ARROW arc?
SG: I just hope people enjoy it! I made it my goal to take risks and be as out there as possible and do so with 100% conviction. I definitely feel good about the conviction part, so I hope people enjoy it.
(And, yes, I also spoke with Gabel about FRINGE. Make sure to check back soon for that!)
Gabel’s episode of ARROW airs Wednesday, January 30th at 8 PM on The CW.