Legends of Tomorrow founding member Ray Palmer created an exosuit that allows him to shrink. But no matter his size, absolutely nobody on his team possesses a bigger heart. Unfortunately, that heart has also been broken on numerous occasions. Ray’s fianceé, Anna Loring, died during Deathstroke’s assault on Starling City. His romance with Felicity fizzled, although the two remain good friends. And, quite frankly, his brief affair with Kendra never seemed to take flight.
Lately, for better or for worse — probably worse — Ray has been crushing on frenemy Nora Darhk, the daughter of one of the Legends’ deadliest foes, Damien Darhk.
Ever since Ray encountered Nora in Season 3 and helped free her from the evil entity Mallus’ influence, there’s been a spark between the duo. It probably doesn’t hurt that the actors portraying Ray and Nora — Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford, respectively — are married in real life.
During SYFY WIRE’s recent visit to the DC's Legends of Tomorrow set in Vancouver, Routh spoke to the press about recruiting Nora, the duo’s chemistry, this season’s big bad, and whether the former Superman would like to share some screen time with Tyler Hoechlin’s Man of Steel.
Ray recently recruited Nora Darhk. Can you talk about bringing her back into the fold, and how that relationship evolves?
Yes. Nora is recruited to help revive Constantine,, and that’s very challenging for her because she’s been keeping away from magic, as that has been a challenging thing for her, her ability to control magic and to not be taken over by it.
So, I’m asking a lot of her to help John in this way. Ultimately, she does, and comes through it and learns that she’s stronger than she thought, which is what Ray has been kind of hoping and feeling. But seeing it was great for Ray. It brings them closer, I think, and will help her character in the future with the Legends, the fact that she has done this for one of the members of the Legends.
How will Nora’s Time Bureau arrest impact her relationship with Ray and the Legends?
Well, she gives herself over willingly, knowing that she is going to pay for her crimes and hopefully continue to rehabilitate herself, which is a strong power move of taking responsibility and making amends for what she’s done. Ray is, I think, very proud of her and, also, sad because he didn’t necessarily want her to do that. As much as he’s a rule-follower, he would have rather had her free and away so that he could spend time with her and she could be OK.
But there are some fun interactions that happen in the next couple of episodes with her being in the Time Bureau prison. Ray finds an interesting way to see her and visit her.
Was the romance with Nora always planned?
I think the writers and producers had that idea, that it was something they would try to do with us. I think they would have done it sooner into last year, but we kind of said, “Wait.” It was up for discussion, and we said, “Let’s draw it out a little bit,” just because sometimes when you do that — when you bring two characters together too quickly — it’s a flash in the pan and it’s done and the excitement’s over. So, it allowed for a lot of comedic moments and tension last season and through this season as well, bringing us closer and closer together, but that was always a thought. Even if it didn’t turn into anything lasting, to tease that and to have that play out, it was always a strong choice.
It’s corny, but I think that Nora, in some way, hopes that maybe someday she can be with Ray. But also, they are so different, so maybe that could never happen. Maybe she’s a fool to think that can happen… Maybe, maybe, maybe….
Ray has never been really successful with romance.
That’s one of the things, too. I love working with Courtney, obviously, and in all of the previous incarnations of characters that we’ve played, we’ve always been romantically involved. But at the same time, because there’s that contrast in the characters, I didn’t want it to be another strikeout for Ray. So, I was a little hesitant because of that, and hesitant for Ray.
I said prior to Courtney joining the show that if Ray is going to be in a relationship again, I wanted it to be a good one. He deserves to have a sustained relationship and to have a person really be there for him.
The good thing about this relationship, at least, is unlike his relationships with Felicity and with Kendra, there’s no third person. There’s no love triangle this time... So I think that makes a difference, and it’s changing Ray in many ways. Those other relationships were great for Ray, but they didn’t challenge him in the same way Nora is challenging his view of the world, which I hope is interesting to watch and definitely intriguing for me to play.
It seems like you are surrounded by rule-breakers this season. How does that affect Ray’s worldview?
I think it mellows him. It allows him to see the world in many different colors. The world isn’t black and white. For a long time, that has been Ray’s biggest journey of all throughout all of these episodes of Arrow and The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow is allowing Ray to see that the world is not just black and white, that there is good in doing devious things sometimes or breaking the rules.
Darkness and emotion are important aspects to humanity. It’s something I’m learning as a person myself. I didn’t ask the writers to write this, it’s just what is happening, and maybe I’m influencing it because I am thinking about it and meditating it in my own thoughts in my life, but I think it’s a very valuable life lesson for Ray to be learning and to be putting out there into the world. I’m excited about that.
You have to have good and bad, light and dark, to know that the other exists, and it’s interesting to explore all those other areas. Being a rule-follower all the time is maybe not the best way to be.
Ray lost his best buddy having Nate down at the Time Bureau. How’s he going to be dealing with that?
It’s rough! And it’s rough on Brandon, too. It’s so much fun working with Nick [Zano]. He’s the best, and we have so much fun. We had a kind of cool scene last night for a future episode actually that I’m excited about. But it’s been very sparse this season and the scenes that have been are kind of sad, saying goodbye to him at the Time Bureau and all of that. But comedy has come out of other places.
We had the opportunity in Episode 3 a couple of weeks ago — which was a very Ray-centric episode — with the punks and being silly with other people. I can find other places to be funny. The writers have found other places for Ray to have comedy, but it’s not the same as Ray and Nate.
But their relationship grows a lot through their separation. You learn a lot about how much you appreciate your friends, so there’s a lot of growth for the character and I’m excited. And I’m excited that they have this relationship. Nobody intended for them to be such buds, but I love that.
I see people responding to it on Twitter. It’s nice to have two men showing that they love each other, that they are buddies and not in a macho way. They sincerely care about each other. That should be perfectly normal and is OK and there’s nothing weird about it.
You guys weren’t in this year’s crossover, but in your heart of hearts, do you want to share the screen with Superman at some point?
Yeah, that’d be a blast. I’ve only, except for doing a little comedy bit, “League of Supermen,” that I did with the Daly family, I haven’t really shared the screen with any Supermen. But that would be fun.
We’ve seen killer unicorns, evil godmothers, and shapeshifters. Can you tease some of the other mystical menaces coming up?
Some of the creatures that we captured in a recent episode come into a bigger play throughout part of the season. Next episode is where the Time Bureau captures several different creatures, and they are present for an arc and become integral, which is kind of fun and cool. They’ll form relationships with some of our characters, which is exciting.
And we have a really small [creature] that’s really fun. That’s after the break, that’s Episode 10, I think, which wreaks havoc for all of the Legends and we have a lot of fun with it. It affects everyone basically.
We haven’t had a big presence of Beebo, yet. Just a little on the iPad game, which I laughed at when they gave me that prop. We also have a fun episode with puppets — puppets in a few episodes, which are really fun. I have a lot of interaction with the puppets, different puppets. We have many different puppets on the show.