With the first season of the CW’s “Arrow” out on DVD and Blu-ray this week, we thought we’d speak to one of the (few) people who knows the identity of the vigilante of Starling City: David Ramsey (“Dexter,” “Con Air”), the actor who plays “Diggle.” Sometimes confidant, and occasional team-up partner with the vigilante, Diggle offers a contrast to the man who will one day become Green Arrow–and he may be the one to help push him on the path to becoming a hero.
“He was certainly blindsided, I think,” Ramsey tells me when I ask about Diggle’s reaction to discovering the identity of the vigilante of Starling City. For Ramsey, Diggle sees Oliver Queen as a young man–almost a boy, really–who’s also a killer. “I think one of the first things [Diggle tells Ollie] is that he has no idea what killing another man does to one’s soul.”
It’s an important concept for the character of Diggle, Ramsey tells me–this is a man who’s been to war and has seen firsthand the impact that taking a life can have on a person. And while he may be ambivalent–or even outright horrified–at Oliver’s approach to crime in his hometown, working alongside Oliver offers Diggle a new mission–and according to Ramsey, it provides Oliver with some direction. “Oliver… needs a moral compass so that the vigilante can become Green Arrow.”
This dynamic between the two characters–both on their respective quests for some version of “justice”–allows viewers to see a deeper battle for Oliver’s soul as he charges headlong into the secret world of Starling City and Diggle seeks out the killer of his brother, Andy, killed in the line of duty. Ramsey says much of the first season has been about how the different characters in Oliver’s life approach the idea of what a hero is in Starling City. To Diggle’s mind, Oliver isn’t yet a hero–he’s a man out for revenge, but Diggle’s mentorship offers a chance to change that.
When I ask what Diggle’s definition of a hero is, Ramsey says it’s a person who does the right thing unquestioningly, someone with a clear moral compass and a sense of obligation to help. “I think Diggle has a much stronger sense of this than [I do],” Ramsey says, adding that the character’s service to his country and sense of duty are ingrained–Diggle’s compelled to do the right thing, whereas Oliver was traumatized by seeing death firsthand, tainting his approach to doing the right thing.
It the death of Ollie’s close friend Tommy near the end of the first season, Ramsey suggests, that might nudge Ollie onto the path of becoming Green Arrow. It creates in the young hero a “sense of duty, a sense of life” that might have been missing before when Oliver was simply tormenting criminals. “All of those things resonate and compel him to become the hero that he needs to become.”
When I ask if hanging out with a superhero means Diggle might one day get his own costume, Ramsey laughs. “Diggle’s now officially a DC character and that’s great and I’m proud of that. Does that mean Diggle will have a costume? I don’t know what Diggle would wear!”
The first season of “Arrow” is out now on DVD and Blu-ray. The second season will premiere on October 19th on the CW.