After a slightly disappointing fourth season, it was clear Arrow needed to make some changes moving into its fifth year on the air. That came in the form of a brand new team of vigilantes and arguably the standout was Rick Gonzalez as cocky anti-hero Wild Dog.
His arc was a lot of fun to follow as he battled to regain his daughter and found a family in the form of Oliver Queen and his new group of rookie heroes. By the time the season came to an end, Wild Dog’s fate was left up in the air as he was among the characters on Lian Yu when the Prometheus blew up the island with Oliver’s friends and families trapped on it.
With Arrow season five hitting DVD and Blu-ray on Monday, we had the opportunity to sit down with Rick to discuss his role in the series, what comes next, and how it felt to act in scenes alongside the Flash and Supergirl. Many thanks to Rick for taking the time to chat!
How did it feel to come into the show at such a late stage as part of Team Arrow, a group viewers were already used to seeing in a different form?
It wasn’t challenging at all! It actually kind of felt natural in terms of being part of it. I say that giving props to the cast; Stephen, Emily, David, Paul. They didn’t make me feel like an outsider and just welcomed me which allowed me to do what I do with the character and feel comfortable doing that. I was actually excited because bringing Renee to life in the world of Star City felt like it was necessary. Renee was an energy I felt was important as we needed to see this sort of aggressiveness and bringing that to the show to give a little more flavour to the world of the DC Universe and Star City. I felt comfortable in that and saw the purpose in Renee and what he could bring. That was fun for me as an actor.
When season five ended, we were left with no idea whether Renee will get his daughter back. Is that something you’re excited to continue exploring in season six?
I have high hopes that the writers will explore that and see how it develops. And I’m hoping I make it off the island! If I don’t make it off the island or whatever scenario they concoct, if there are more interactions with Renee and his daughter, that would be amazing. I love the idea of Renee being a father but at the same time being an anti-hero and loose cannon. As a kid, I grew up loving Wolverine and The Punisher and to me, Wild Dog is a tip of the hat to those guys. He has a great energy to him and he’s the guy that if I was 10 years old, I’d fall in love with. He’d be my favourite.
It’s common between seasons for characters to get costume upgrades; will we see Renee sporting a new look in season six or is he sticking to his own outfit?
You know what man, I really love the look of the original Wild Dog. It just pops for me. For some reason, he just looks cool. I wouldn’t not be open to an upgrade if they ever gave me one. I know the costume designer is such a talented person and the costumes she created for other people are incredible but I don’t hate the original Wild Dog costume. I think it’s iconic and cool. I’ve seen a lot of Wild Dog cosplay out there and I can’t wait to see more of it.
What did you enjoy most about exploring the dynamic between Renee and Quentin and is it something we can expect to continue moving into next season?
I hope there are more scenes between me and him. That would be great. Working with Paul is a dream. He’s so giving and sweet and a pleasure to work with as an actor. He’s such a sweet guy. He’s a person who really cares about the work he puts in. He’s driven in that way and puts a lot of care in the scenes and what you see is two actors feeling safe with each other and enjoying each other’s company, saying the words and letting that come to life. It’s a testament to his energy and how much he cares about the work he puts in.
Wild Dog played a role in last year’s big crossover; how did you feel sharing scenes with characters like the Flash and Supergirl?
That was exciting. I appreciated the level of love that they brought to Wild Dog immediately in season five and when I read the script and saw that I was interacting with Supergirl and the Flash right away, I was excited because I see a vision for Wild Dog and his ability to interact with these characters. Maybe not in the best way but it makes it entertaining to see the fact that he’s not the easiest person to get along with. With those sunny dispositions and his darkness, it’s nice to see that. I was excited and I immediately saw the severity of how they saw Wild Dog and making him come to life, bringing him forth, and establishing him in this pantheon of superheroes. I can’t wait to do more. I hope I do more.
Wild Dog’s scenes with Derek Sampson were some of my favourites; what was it like working with wrestler Cody Runnels for those?
Ha, that was great. Cody is such a cool dude. I’m a big wrestling fan, so I knew who his dad was and his brother so we made a lot of time to talk about wrestling, learning the ins and outs of that world. He’s such a down to Earth guy and charismatic. He brought so much to that character and a lot of cool energy to his role and I appreciated the war we created between Wild Dog and his character which was fun. For me, working with Cody Rhodes, I loved it. It was a lot of fun. I could see him being part of Team Arrow too!
Would you ever be tempted to step into a WWE ring the same way Stephen Amell did when he battled Cody at SummerSlam a few years ago?
Absolutely! 100%. Stephen did it the right way. He just looked super friggin’ cool in that wrestling match and everything leading up to it. That would totally be me. I don’t know if I could pull off some of the things that he did [Laughs] but Stephen is such an amazing athlete. I would totally do that in a heartbeat. That’s like bucket list stuff.
A lot of fans argue that DC is well ahead of Marvel when it comes to TV shows – what do you think makes a series like Arrow and those on The CW so special?
I don’t know if we were the first but I think that the tone of Arrow lends itself to what people are interested in seeing. That darker tone of an anti-hero and someone who’s trying to figure out their morality and where they lie. I think that is so much more interesting to watch and especially more prevalent in these times. We do need escapism but at the same time, something to ground us in life. The idea of who are we and always asking that question of do we like who we are. The crux of Arrow lies in that place. For me, as a kid, I’ve always loved Marvel and DC and I love the idea of people doing superhuman things. As you get older, it’s more interesting to watch things grounded in reality with extraordinary circumstances. I think that’s what led to audiences and people saying hey I’d rather watch this. I think that’s where our strong suits are.
Looking back at season five of Arrow, what were some of your favourite moments?
Looking back at last season and being tortured by Tobias Church and interacting with the Flash and Supergirl and then having my own episode Spectre of the Gun, those moments to me stick out. I enjoyed bringing Renee to life and giving him the energy he deserves. I’m so excited that I’m able to play a superhero and anti-hero. To me, that’s a dream come true. I grew up loving Wolverine and The Punisher, those types of characters, so Wild Dog is right there to me. In my head, I want to make him as cool as those guys.