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Michael Rowe

In 1986, Josh Ostrander decided to revive The Brave and the Bold’s (1959) version of the Suicide Squad for DC Comics mini-series Legends (1986 – 1987). So enamoured with the narrative of supervillains performing covert missions for the government, Ostrander would later conceive the revered comics series Suicide Squad, which would launch in 1987 through DC Comics. Ostrander’s first volume brought Batman’s adversary, Deadshot, to the forefront, and nearly four decades later, Canadian Michael Rowe made audiences fall in love with the marksman in a contemporary reinterpretation with 2012’s television series, Arrow.

“I think the reasons that fans like Deadshot, and the reasons why I enjoy playing him, are pretty much the same,” details Rowe. “Deadshot is a self-loathing, highly skilled assassin with a death wish.” Furthermore, the character has a propensity to die spectacularly in the comics. “He doesn’t really care what happens to him and this makes the character completely free to do and say what other characters won’t. He has a dark sense of humour and thinks of life as one big cruel joke. He can’t pass up an opportunity to slip in a wise-ass remark, but there’s often truth and sincerity in there too.”
 
Rowe was born in Newfoundland, Canada to a family of music. His grandparents owned a music store and he grew up watching his father perform in a band. At the age of six, he begun drumming and eventually went on to join six-piece Nu-Metal band Bucket Truck in 1996. After two LPs, slots supporting Green Day, Slayer and D.O.A., the band disbanded in 2007, ultimately leaving the actor at a crossroads.
 
“I was living on the east coast of Canada when Bucket Truck split up,” explains Rowe. “I had also just ended a long-term relationship with my girlfriend. I filled my truck with my camping gear, snowboard, surfboard and some clothes. I gave away most of my other possessions and I drove to Vancouver on the west coast for a fresh start. I really didn’t know what I was going to do next.”
 
In Vancouver, Mike met up with his brother, writer and filmmaker Andrew. “My brother had moved there for film school, but dropped out at the last minute,” he says. “He decided to invest his money in some camera gear, lights and sound gear instead. I started helping him shoot short films and comedy sketches that he’d written. Even though I had no experience at all with acting, I fell in love with it right away. All we wanted to do was film stuff. The moment that made me think that we could possible take a shot a having a career in film and TV was when we filmed a little gem called Harvey Keitel’s Dick. We definitely kicked it up a notch for that production.”
 
Harvey Keitel’s Dick (2011) details the story of two men - a cool guy and a cinephile - vying over the same woman. The movie buff wins the woman’s affections as they bond over the perfection of Harvey Keitel’s dick. The confidence gained from this short lead to Rowe studying at Vancouver’s Actor’s Foundry and the creation of more films with Andrew, including the talk show satire Family Matters with Gene Parsons (2011), award-winning Sleepy Stories (2012) and The Business of Acting (2012), which saw Rowe showcase his development as an actor by morphing between lies of infidelity, divorce, failure as a husband and mentor. These topics are not unknown to Deadshot, who is a failed father and husband himself in Arrow.
 
“‘You can take the guy out of the war, but you can’t take the war out of the guy’,” quotes Rowe, elucidating upon the inner turmoil of Floyd Lawton. “He tried to return home and fit back into society, be a father and a husband, but there was a darkness that followed him back. He felt that he was a danger and disappointment to his family and [that] he would only cause them pain. He made a choice [to leave and] to do what he does best - kill.” Eventually A.R.G.U.S. apprehended him. “Joining the Suicide Squad wasn’t really much of a choice, it was a chance to get let out of his cage, to have a temporary taste of freedom, to go fight another war.” In this sense, it is a war where he dies nobly, like a Byronic hero, to ensure his comrades, John and Lyla Diggle, return home to their daughter.
 
When Rowe auditioned for Arrow,they called the character Finn and described him as a highly-skilled sniper. “The scenes were mostly just the character putting his rifle together and getting ready to assassinate his targets,” explains Rowe. “I decided to play it as if this character had a relationship with his weapons. He shows a type of respect for his guns; he didn’t need people in his life, just his guns and a mission. That approached worked well [and] the director seemed to dig it.”
 
It’s easy to imagine Rowe prescribing the same degree of respect to the few belongings he took with him on that fateful trip to Vancouver. As the old adage goes, sometimes art imitates life. Of course, he secured the part, but was unaware he had secured the opportunity to play Deadshot.
 
“I’m glad they didn’t tell me right away and let it be a surprise. It was an amazing feeling,” confesses the ex-drummer. “My younger brother was a big comic book collector [and] I couldn’t wait to tell him. It still blows my mind to think about it. It’s every kid’s dream to be a superhero.”
 
BY AVRILLE BYLOK-COLLARD 

Michael Rowe will be a guest at AMC Expo, formerly Armageddon Australia, from Saturday October 17 – Sunday October 18. Tickets are available through amcexpo.com.au.