Seth Gabel On Playing 'Arrow's' Count Vertigo

VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 01: Seth Gabel poses for photos on the red carpet while attending 'Fringe' celebrates 100 episod
VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 01: Seth Gabel poses for photos on the red carpet while attending 'Fringe' celebrates 100 episodes and final season at Fairmont Pacific Rim on December 1, 2012 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images for FOX)

You're unlikely to find two characters as diametrically opposed as Seth Gabel's new villain (dubbed "The Count") on "Arrow" and his understated performance in new film "Allegiance" (released Dec. 28 in New York and Los Angeles, available on VOD now) -- but that's probably the point.

The 31-year-old actor may be best known for playing Lincoln Lee on Fox's "Fringe" and the dysfunctional Jeremy Darling in ABC's gone-but-not-forgotten "Dirty Sexy Money," but his latest performances seem poised make you view the star in a whole new light.

The Huffington Post caught up with Gabel earlier this week to discuss his villainous "Arrow" role. Light spoilers ahead.

Let's talk a little bit about your role on "Arrow," since it sounds like your character is pivotal to the story.
Yeah, that was so much fun to do, and so much fun to be a part of. I love how much people are interested in it because it seems like a smaller show, but they are doing really great work over there, and a lot of people are paying attention. So I’m honored to have been a part of it, and I hope I get to continue to do so. The character is the most fun I’ve ever had playing a part.

What can you reveal about your first episode, Episode 12 [titled "Vertigo"]?
I play a character called The Count, who is based on Count Vertigo of the comic book series. And the super powers that the comic book character had are manifested in a drug called Vertigo that I sell on the street. So my character is a street drug kingpin that basically rules the streets of Starling City, and he’s quickly rising to a higher station and [forming] a evil empire and The Arrow needs to stop him. And I, interestingly, welcome the challenge because I love having a force for me to fight against, and the opportunity to really prove my power over Starling City.

The show has been subtly teasing Thea's [Willa Holland] experimentation with drugs since the pilot. Do you have any direct scenes with Willa or are they mostly with Stephen Amell?
It’s mostly with Stephen, but I like to feel like I have ... I’m kind of involved in what Thea is going through.

How did the producers describe the role to you, and how did you become involved with the show?
[Executive producer] Greg Berlanti called, who I worked with on "Dirty Sexy Money." And he said that there was a Joker-type character coming up on "Arrow," which was intriguing and something I thought maybe I wanted to avoid, because you hear "The Joker" and you think of Heath Ledger. There’s just no way to come anywhere near that. So when I saw the character I was really interested to see if I could create something that had a similar energy but definitely distinct from what Heath had done, and make sure that I can do something that was my own version of that thing, and I felt like I did. I worked really hard on it, and it’s definitely the most risk that I’ve ever taken playing a part.

And you've only shot one episode so far, correct?
I’ve only shot one, and it’s up in the air whether or not there’s going to be more. We’re kind of talking about it now.

I believe [executive producer] Andrew Kreisberg described your character as the first time that Oliver has actually created a supervillain through his own actions. Is there anything you can tease about that aspect of the character without spoiling anything?
I can say that our showdown leads to potentially more future showdowns in which I become more powerful.

Did you go back and read up on the comics out of curiosity, since the role is obviously less fantastical than the original version?
Yeah I kind of looked online. Wikipedia is definitely very helpful. But mostly it was just, in the amount of time that I had to prepare, I wanted to watch as much of the show as I could and really make sure that I understood the world of the show because when you hear “comic book” you might make impressions that it’s one thing. But I think what’s so great about “Arrow” is that they really ground everything in reality. And so in playing this character that, on the page, could be very over the top, I wanted to make sure that he still fit in the world that they were creating. And so I spent a lot of time trying to find that balance ... He’s flamboyant, theatrical, grounded, and very street. I really wanted to make sure that I was in my body, and that I was physically intimidating while at the same time not being afraid to be over the top.

"Arrow" returns Wed., Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.

Check back for more from Seth Gabel about "Fringe," which airs Fridays at 9 p.m. EST on Fox, and his movie "Allegiance."

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