Brandon Routh Talks Suiting Up as The Atom on ‘Arrow’ and His Gay Fan Base

Ray Palmer is obviously staying in shape for something, right? (Emily Bett Rickards & Brandon Routh) (CW)

We’ve finally seen what Brandon Routh looks like in The Atom suit on the CW hit series, “Arrow.”

However, that was in a photo released recently by the CW and Warner Brothers but at least it's a good sign that we'll be seeing The Atom soon on the series. (Actually, looks like it will be with the episode airing February 25th)

And while Routh has always had a gay fan base since he famously put on that other suit with an S on the chest back in 2006,  he cemented it by playing Wyatt, the gay nurse dating Michael Urie on the short-lived comedy “Partners.” 

I sat down with the charismatic Routh recently to talk about Ray Palmer’s journey, his feelings for Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) and how it’s been wearing The Atom suit.

Tell me how you approach playing Ray because I didn’t know if it was in the script but I really like kind of the lightness you bring to him even though there’s not a lot of light stuff going on around him.

Brandon Routh: I’d like to take credit for it and say it was my genius idea but no, that was when Andrew [Kreisberg] and Marc [Guggenheim, exec producers] pitched the idea to me, the character, they were like, “We want to bring Ray in to be a light spot for the show in the third season. We feel like there’re some things we really need to do and add another layer to the show.” So I said, “Yes.” I mean, that was an amazing experience. Then saying that to me, they really didn’t have to tell me anything else because I had an awesome opportunity to work on “Chuck,” which I was a fan of the show and it was so much fun, but I didn’t get to do much comedy at all on that show. So I definitely jumped at the opportunity to do it on this.

Then they've kind of let me go. It's awesome writing, everybody making fun stuff and the tech stuff and the quirkiness…I feel like maybe I have made him a little bit softer than he could have come of, which I'm happy about because that's just me. I wanted to make sure that he was likable, even in his quirkiness or his brashness sometimes. But then just the energy level, I just kind of did as much as I could do comfortably and truthfully and it stuck and everybody's happy with it. There are levels and layers to his energy obviously, so some of it is a persona that he puts on for business purposes and then with Felicity, it can definitely be a more low-key conversation and real.

Would you say his feelings for Felicity are 100 percent genuine or is she also someone who can help him  get where he wants to go because of her own intellect?

BR: I think his romantic feelings for her are absolutely genuine. I think at the beginning the business side was business. That’s why when everybody knocks Ray for being a stalker I go, “Well, come on now. It wasn’t like some guy on the corner saying, ‘I’ve been watching you for years. You’re so beautiful. I want to touch your hair,’ that kind of creepy stalker. He was stalking her for her business mind and for her brains and her wit and everything, you know, pursuing her for those intentions purely. In fact, it caught him off guard, the whole romantic thing.

Here’s a preview of next week’s ‘Arrow’ episode:

[iframe http://www.youtube.com/embed/ktGJCs7BKkY 560 340]

I wonder if Ray is much more aware of what's going on around him than maybe he lets on. Would you say that?

BR: Well, I think he’s a smart enough guy to know there are things that he doesn’t know, I would say. To my knowledge I’ve not been told that Ray has any insight into Oliver, who he is, who Arrow is and Felicity’s involvement, though he had the wherewithal to know who Felicity Smoak was and her history and the legend of Felicity Smoak. So maybe he does know something and that will be revealed but I just think he knows and trust that if she has something to do, she needs to be out of work for whatever reason, that he trusts himself that she’s not cheating on him or whatever else. It’s valid, whatever reason it is.

I don’t know if you can talk to this, are we going to see in you a special kind of suit any time soon?

BR: I will be in The Atom suit before the end of the season. I can say that. I’m excited for everybody to finally get to see it and to be in it more. I’ve been in it a couple of times testing it out.

You’ve been through putting on these kinds of suits before but how is it when you put on The Atom suit?

BR: It’s pretty awesome. You know, there’s a whole fitting process, they’ve done a really great job not needing me as much as I was for “Superman,” it was a different experience, and they’re so used to making suits. The idea of the suit is different than any others that you’ve seen on the show. They’ve got a really good pattern down to getting it done so it’s been very cool, fairly seamless, and the fact that they’re constricting can be troublesome for spending a long time in them but also kind of lends this invulnerability feeling, invulnerable feeling, because you’re in it and so you feel stronger because of it and the same thing with this and it’s very imposing and powerful looking so I can feel that from being inside.

Is keeping up with the workouts a challenge because the suits tend to be very form fitting?

BR: Well, this would be a situation where I won’t want to put on any mass…if I was to ever do that for any reason they’d probably yell at me but they’d have to sew something else I suppose but I don’t need to. I mean, with the whole thing on it’s pretty imposing and thankfully I’ve done enough in my fitness and nutrition research that I’m in a good place that I can stay pretty steady with what I have going and not have to worry about fitting in the suit.

Moving forward, will we see Ray’s moral line be tested?

BR: No, not yet, his involvement is still kind of loose as far as what we’ve done so far. I mean, certainly I’m sure that will be something like that. He’s never done anything like this. I mean, yes, he had this tragedy with his wife being brutally murdered but he has not, to my knowledge, really laid a hand on anyone yet and the implications of that and that stuff.

Brandon Routh as The Atom in 'Arrow' (CW)

Let's talk about your gay fan base. Obviously, playing a gay character on "Partners" helped but when did you first become aware of that?

BR: Oh, sure. From “Superman,” from before I did an episode of “Will and Grace,” I think the “Superman” thing was obviously the huge thing for fan bases of all. I appreciate the support from everyone and loyal fan base.

And I do think once you play a gay character, you kind of always keep those fans in the future.

BR: We still need more of that as thankfully, the world, society, is coming to a more rational thought process about sexuality. It’s like ‘come on people, just relax already and live your life and forget other people.’ Don’t worry about what other people are doing, not hurting you and I’ve been happy and honored to play the characters that I’ve played and really truly wished I could have played Wyatt a lot longer. I had such fun with that character and working with the fabulously talented Michael Urie and David [Krumholtz] and Sophia [Bush] and Max [Mutchnick, co-creator] and David [Kohan, co-creator] and everybody. That was one of those that still, we were on the right recipe and such a good family.

And I get people all the time at conventions a lot say, "Oh, 'Partners' was so great." A lot in Canada because they got to see, I think they might have gotten a few more episodes than we got to see. I hear from people on Twitter in South Africa where they got to see all 13 episodes, they released all of them there. They should at least put it on the DVD. Put it on iTunes. People would buy it, Warner Brothers, CBS.

“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8pm on the CW.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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