When did you start acting?
My goal has always been to do something creative for a living, and prove that it was possible. I came out here to do sound on my brother's short films, being behind the camera. But because he didn't know any of the actors out here, we had to be both crew and the cast. I was like "I don't know if I'm into this." It was all comedy-based stuff we were filming, and I was really surprised at how fun it was, and the energy we would build in these scenes, leaving room for improvisation. It felt like playing music.
What was your first pro job?
[laughs] I knew it was an action show based on a comic book, but they hide the names of the characters because they don't want you to know who you're reading for. They called [Deadshot] an "army sniper named Finn." Very little lines, but a lot of action. After the first audition, I remember leaving the room and going, "There was so much more I could've done." I got a callback and added all these nuances—I decided to keep it going until somebody yelled "Cut!" They let me go for quite awhile and I'm literally just reloading the gun, shooting more people, taking out targets, all these things a sniper would do. Then the director starts laughing and I was like oh, shit. And he was like "Michael, that was really intense. Sorry man, I had to break it up somehow."
The comic-book fandom is very intense and very loyal. What's been your experience?
I've only been on six episodes of the show. And they tried to kill me in the first one! They shot me in the face with an arrow! But because he's so popular in the comic books, and because he doesn't die easily, everybody starts kicking up a stink on the internet. That prompted the showrunners to give him another shot. The fans are really gravitating toward it. I got asked to go to a comic convention called Armageddon in New Zealand last May. It blew my freaking mind. The people that like it, love it. It's not crazy, I'm not the Beatles, but people recognize you in that circumstance. Nobody gives a shit about me in real life.
Have you and Matt ever talked about how two guys from Bucket Truck ended up with television careers?
We talk about it all the time! Me and Matt are still best friends, he's the reason I went to LA. I was down there for three months, and he was there for the first month. We kind of had the feeling of "We're getting the band back together!" I feel like we're both better versions of ourselves when the other guy's around. Sometimes you just have to have the balls to try things and open some doors you're a little bit afraid of, and then everything you wanted is right there.
Interview conducted and condensed by Tara Thorne. Arrow airs Wednesdays on CTV.