We just saw him on the Fringe series finale, but Seth Gabel is diving into yet another kind of world on tonight's Arrow.
As The Count, Gabel is the villain responsible for the drug Vertigo that landed Thea in the slammer last week. On the upcoming installment - aptly titled “Vertigo" - you’ll see Oliver go to great lengths to bring this dealer down.
We chatted with Gabel yesterday about what The Count is really after, what his inspiration was for the manic personality of the character and, of course, how it felt to be part the Fringe finale...
TV Fanatic: This looks like a very fun role for you to jump into...
Seth Gabel: It’s like the most fun I’ve ever had playing a part. To be totally out there and eccentric and to be over the top! It was so much fun.
TVF: How did you decide on the tone of The Count?
SG: [Executive Producers] Andrew (Kreisberg) and Greg Berlanti had initially pitched the character to me as a Joker type. Not wanting to be redundant or copy anything the brilliant Heath Ledger had done, I tried to find something on my own. It was a very intuitive process to kind of read the material they’d written and try to create this guy who is sadistic and psychotic and masochistic in some ways but also thuggish and physically intimidating.
What was great was when I went to shoot the director let me try it a bunch of different ways and the cast was really open to supporting whatever version we were going to try. I think what they ended up putting together in the editing room was a blend of all of those different things, but being given the permission to try anything and go for anything was incredibly liberating for me. I think we ended up getting some really cool stuff on film.
TVF: What can we expect when The Count meets Oliver/Arrow, who is always so serious and stoic?
SG: It’s not what you’d expect. They both have tricks up their sleeve and so they each are kind of sizing each other up and not exactly revealing what their intentions are. Eventually when and if they have their showdown with each other it’s no holds barred.
TVF: The Count manufactures the drug Vertigo but is his main goal to get it out on the street or is there another goal he’s after?
SG: Global domination doesn’t sound bad! But Vertigo is his baby and it’s something that he’s worked on for a long time and worked very hard to perfect so anything that tries to threaten that baby taking over and being a part of Starling City is not going to fly with The Count. Anyone who tries to stop him he’s just going to get them out of his way.
TVF: Does The Count see himself as a villain, does he think he’s doing good things or is he just bonkers?
SG: He’s definitely bonkers and he definitely sees what does as a good thing because to him money and power and dominating everyone else, that’s a great thing because his experience is the only one that matters. So whatever makes him happy is the thing that matters most to him so he’s fully justified in doing what he’s doing.
TVF: Do we get much of a backstory into how The Count became who he is?
SG: He’s pretty talkative and he tells a lot of stories throughout the episode, which I hope you’ll enjoy and it should reveal a titillating amount of backstory.
TVF: He is also very different from Lincoln Lee but was it easy for you to jump into the world of Arrow having come from the unique world of Fringe?
SG: I’ve kind of grown used to being in alternate universes and it’s the real world that kind of seems strange to me now! The Arrow world, I totally immersed myself in watching whatever episodes were available so I could fully understand the world and it’s always trippy when you do that because you become a fan and you start to idolize the characters that you see on screen. Then you show up on set and there they are in person and you’re not only meeting them but you’re now interacting with them in that world, which is always a surreal experience. It’s like being a kid again where you’ve just been imagining something and then when you actually get to play on the day there is nothing like it.
TVF: Is The Count a character we will probably see again?
SG: It’s definitely possible. You’ll have to tune in to find out.
TVF: It was so great to see you again in the Fringe finale. How was it to be asked back for the final episode?
SG: I felt incredibly honored to be asked back. I just felt like it was an unnecessary but welcome validation for the Lincoln Lee characters and the experience that I got to have on the show. The icing on the cake to be able to complete Lincoln’s journey and to show the audience he’s happy and that he made the right choice in going to the other side in that he was ultimately able to make a difference that contributed to the end turning out the way that it did.
TVF: Anything else coming up?
SG: I shot a film called Forever, which is going to do the Festival circuit and is about a mysterious commune where very strange things are happening. I also did a film called Allegiance, which is now out on DVD and On-Demand and iTunes. Other than that auditioning for pilots and trying to find that great next show.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.