Manu Bennett is certainly a busy man, but he took time out of his schedule (which includes also co-starring in ‘Spartacus’) to delve into some questions about his character, Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, on ‘Arrow.’
Slade becomes a mentor of sorts for Oliver in “The Odyssey” — can you talk a little about how their dynamic evolves?
It’s all a bit of a mystery that’s going on here on the island; people are there but what they’re doing there is always under question. So when Oliver suddenly shows up in my fuselage, a.k.a Slade’s home, it’s an intruder and Slade has to quickly ascertain the nature of this intruder and he ends up finding this mangy young man lost and has to make a judgment call on whether he should let this kid stick around or not. So this particular episode is mainly based upon teaching Oliver how to survive, and in order to do that, he has to take him back to the outside world on the island. And Slade does have a plan in this episode to get off the island, and Oliver becomes a bit of an obstacle in trying to gain that objective.
We learn that Slade has been betrayed by his partner, Billy Wintergreen, in this episode — how does that affect him?
Obviously they were both put on the island, so Slade says, to exfiltrate Yao Fei. Slade states that his background is Australian special forces and they’re monitoring the island. They are aware of this military operation being lead by Fyres, which hasn’t really clarified itself. It’s not like they know what’s going on when Billy and Slade are first coming to do their own investigations, but of course they’re then shot out of the sky.
So there’s obviously been this betrayal over accepting whether to go with the good guys or the bad guys. It appears that Slade has gone out on his own on the island to try to represent what’s good in the world and Billy’s taking the pay packet from Fyres to ensure his own survival for his own benefits. So I think there’s a clash of morals and direction there and that seems to have ramped up who might be considered Deathstroke 1 and Deathstroke 2. It’s sort of pitched them up against each other. So I guess you’ve got the battle of the Deathstrokes.
Right now, as you say, he’s out for himself but he’s still representing what’s good and right instead of just following the paycheck, but fans of the comic book version of Deathstroke know that Slade’s not always such a noble guy. Have there been any discussions with the producers about how the character might progress into something more familiar to comics fans, or are you taking it one script at a time?
I’m sort of taking it one step at a time, really. I mean, I arrived at Vancouver Airport to receive an email from my manager saying that the role that I’ve been offered — which was in my audition was called Holloway — was in fact Deathstroke. At which point, standing in the airport at the customs desk I went “Deathstroke? Who’s Deathstroke?” And the guy behind the counter said, “Are you playing Deathstroke?” I said, “Well, it seems like it,” and he went, “Aww man, he’s the badass of the comic world” and I went, “Oh, really?” Thanks, custom guy!
So I think the producers got me in here because of, I guess, their respect for my performance in “Spartacus” … I’m really just living the character as he appears on the page, week by week. That was very similar in “Spartacus” as well, [not knowing what was going to happen]. I guess in this story, maybe I just don’t know when I’m going to become the Deathstroke that all the people are familiar with in the comic books, and that page will turn, so keep turning the pages and I’m sure it will unfold itself …
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