“I listen to aggressive dubstep music to get into character.”
That’s actor Seth Gabel talking to MTV News over the phone about getting into character for the role of the villainous Count Vertigo on “Arrow.” He’s appeared twice before as the unhinged drug dealer, and will reprise his role Wednesday (November 20) in the episode “State vs. Queen.”
“[Producers] Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim first pitched the character to me as being very much like The Joker,” Gabel said in reference to the classic Batman villain. “So that was obviously the starting point; but I really tried to find a way where it wasn’t just a rip-off and make it my own. For me it was just a matter of having a very playful voice, one that was hoarse and damaged, and affected by his depravity and his recklessness.”
Though The Count has only appeared twice, Gabel has become a fan favorite both from this role, as well as his recurring role as Lincoln Lee on FOX’s “Fringe.” And given Vertigo is a major villain in the DC Comics “Arrow” draws on for inspiration, it was only a matter of time until Gabel came back for thirds. Still, when we last left The Count he wasn’t exactly in any position to make trouble. Confined to a mental asylum, hepped up on his own drug (called “vertigo”), The Count was a drooling maniac.
“He has a fast metabolism!” Gabel joked, laughing. “The vertigo has worked its way out of his system. He finds his way back to reality, and when he does he’s in a maximum-security prison. And that’s where we find him in this episode. Once he does get out of that jail, he’s on a mission to get revenge and get even with Arrow, and also continue his plan to use vertigo to craft his empire in his image.”
Also notable about The Count’s last appearance? He was the turning point for season one, where Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) decided he didn’t have to kill everyone, instead leaving Vertigo alive. Now in Season Two Arrow has sworn to never kill again, something that The Count will use to his advantage.
“Count Vertigo becomes aware of Arrow’s ‘no killing’ clause,” Gabel said. “Because a villain who can’t be killed, what is he going to do to me? I can’t be stopped. Once I learn about that, I use that to wreak as much havoc as I can. I think it’s interesting to see how he’s tested over the course of the season, if he can keep that oath sacred, and have integrity with it.”
For those worried Arrow might break his no-killing rule for Vertigo? Worry not, as chances are Gabel might be heading back to Starling City for more appearances. Asked whether he’d be mixing it up with the other villains in Season Two like The League of Assassins, Brother Blood, H.I.V.E. and more, Gabel deferred, but did say, “It’s definitely possible, I could see the possibility of an Axis forming. But I can’t say any more than that.”
“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 P.M. E.T. on The CW.