TVNZ OnDemand chats to DC's Legends Of Tomorrow's Victor Garber
Actor Victor Garber (The Flash, Alias, Titanic) – who plays Professor Martin Stein, gave us the lowdown on his practical, scientifically minded character...
What will Martin Stein’s role be within the motley crew of DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow?
I think the fun of this show is that it’s about a group of disparate people who have come together for the greater good. The intention is to combat some really bad forces, but the difficulty is that everybody wants to go about things in very different ways. It’s like a family drama; that’s how I see it. It’s going to be about finding that common ground.
What’s the most enjoyable aspect of the role for you?
For me as an actor, the fun is seeing how I get what I want from others. That’s the drama of it and the fun of it, and I think the fans will be interested to see how they accomplish it. It’s a challenge. Martin is going to be the one who’s trying to put things together scientifically and strategically, which is also fun to see.
Will Martin be a mentor for the other characters on DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow?
Without question, because he is the oldest guy. He’s lived the longest and if he sees someone struggling, he’s a compassionate guy. I think they cast me partially because that’s a comfortable place for me to be – and because it works with my age and the way I come off in life. So yes, I think that will happen – but I also think he has an ego and an arrogance about him that I hope will be mined because I love playing that aspect of his character, too.
Which character will Stein align himself with, and who do you think he will clash with?
If it went by chemistry, then I think Wentworth Miller’s character and I are quite simpatico. I’m looking forward to seeing two people who are diametrically opposed in the show finding their common ground, so I think everything is going to be up for grabs. Personally, I don’t know who is going to get along with who. I think the fun of it is that everyone will have moments where they agree and then they will have moments where they don’t. It’s like a dysfunctional family in a family drama. How do they coexist and not kill each other for the greater good? Well, you never know what could happen in a season. They’re all striving and trying to combat something that is bigger than all of them – but the only way they can do it is by doing it together.
In The Flash, Martin Stein is one half of Firestorm, along with Robbie Amell’s Ronnie Raymond. What is it like working so closely with another actor?
It’s the best because, for me, the joy of acting is to interact with other actors, especially when you have that kind of connection. I’ve worked with Robbie Amell before this job and we have a fantastic rapport, so nothing makes me happier than saying something that is offensive to him. It’s like heaven. We have a great time and we laugh so much. It’s a joy for me.
How is that going to work on DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow with Robbie Amell not being part of the cast?
That was my biggest question, too! I can tell you this much: it will be resolved and you will see Robbie. Firestorm in the comics has had other connections. We will see how it plays out, but it’s unknown at the moment.
What’s the biggest challenge of playing a dual character like this?
I think they are so different. Martin Stein is such a confident combination of things, but they’re completely dissimilar; they just happened to be forced to be together. Of course, that’s the fun of playing it because they’re not at all alike. The idea that now Martin Stein has gone back to some semblance of normal life is what’s interesting to me, and how that is changed now that he comes back into the world of metaphysics.
What excites you the most about this new series?
The fact that it’s unknown. What excites me is the excitement of the fans and of the writers. I’m not exactly a pessimist, but I’m a realist and I’ve been in a lot of shows and I don’t count on anything working because you can’t. I have confidence and I believe in what we’re doing with this show, though.
How much pressure do you face in pushing a new show forward?
It’s not on me; it’s on the writers and the producers and the network. I just do what I do. I’m excited about it because it’s a new venture. It’s life changing for me because now I’m doing a series again, which I haven’t done for a long time on a regular basis. Also, I’ll be living in a new city with a new life. That’s the pressure; trying to cope with all that.
Did you have any concerns or hesitancies when you were offered the role?
I had all those things, but mostly I was excited. It was very flattering because I respect these people so much and because I love The Flash. I love the people on that show. I think they’re all extraordinary. Tom Cavanagh and Jesse Martin are friends from New York and I just marvel at what they do. And then Grant Gustin is a wonder. He’s insanely talented. In fact, it’s annoying how talented he is! That was part of why I wanted to do be involved in the first place.
Do you take the character as you find him on the page or have you researched the broader DC mythology of Firestorm?
Would you think less of me if I told you I haven’t? Here’s what I do: I wait for the script, because reading about it beforehand just gets confusing. We’re not doing the comic book version of the character and the world; we are doing a compilation of things from that universe, so I wait for the writers to tell me what it is and then I determine how I want to interpret that.
What’s more intense – the comic book mythology or the revolving mythology of a show like Alias?
If you think for one second that I understood anything about the revolving mythology of Alias, you would be wrong. Jennifer Garner and I use to laugh. JJ Abrams was a genius, but Jennifer and I would be like, “What are we talking about?” We had no idea. And honestly, I have no idea about a lot of what I’m saying in Legends Of Tomorrow either. It’s so out there. But I love the time travel and the metaphysical aspects of it. There’s going to be more going back in time as a whole group, which I’m really looking forward to.
Alias was an incredibly action-packed show. Do you feel like those years prepared you for this new show?
In my experience, everything I’ve ever done prepares me for the next thing. It also informs everything I do. Without question, Alias was life changing for me because I was cast in a role that I would normally not be cast in. But JJ Abrams saw something in me, which I am forever grateful for. That allowed me to embody Jack Bristow and that changed my life. So yes, everything I’ve done informs what I do next in some way. You are the person you are today because who you were yesterday and hopefully, if you are open to it, it changes your life and the way you see things. That’s what life’s all about.