Zap2it talked to Knepper about his dangerous character in this interview.
Zap2it: What did you know about the Clock King when you took the role?
Robert Knepper: I’d been down in Hawaii shooting “Hawaii Five-0,” got back, took my wife to Yosemite, got back, got the offer for this character, and I said “Yeah!” because I love Vancouver and I wanted to go back up. Then my wife said, “I just Googled this character and he’s kind of a big thing in the DC world.”
It’s like there’s a nice little history to him. And what I was intrigued by was, most characters that I see come from comic books or graphic novels even, by the time they end up on television or, especially, on screen, that’s the image that you associate with that character and that’s it … Spider-Man is Spider-Man.
This guy, if you Google him, he’s all over the place. There’s a lot of different images. There’s an actor who played him on the “Batman” series, and he’s a completely different person than some of the drawings.
How does the “Arrow” Clock King relate to these earlier versions?
What was really cool about creating or being a part of creating this guy is really honing in, taking him off the page and making him real — not a caricature and not an effete, kind of wimpier guy, but someone who could really do some damage — starting with his intellect.
Everything from the ground up — from the makeup to the costumes to the facial hair to the glasses, a lot of those things were ideas that I’d had or I’d brought to the table … Luckily, the props department, we had worked together before, and they were so instrumental for me in picking the right glasses and where to find the right watches and where to put the watches. I mean, the guy is a walking clock!
I didn’t even hear it and see it until my wife showed me a link — I think it’s on YouTube now — with [executive producer Marc] Guggenheim talking about it and they show some clips from it. And I go, “Really? Did I really talk like that?” I don’t even remember consciously thinking, “This is how I’m going to talk.” It just kind of worked and it came out and I stuck with it.
What sort of threat to Starling City does Tockman pose?
I love wearing a watch, but it’s not something I’m led by anymore. To me, computers and smart technology, that’s the modern equivalent of a clock. What they were able to do as writers — and I think part of the reason why these characters are timeless, no pun intended — they figure out how to modernize them. And the Clock King, he’s also pretty darn smart at computer technology. He can track you better than anybody. He’s just graduated from the simple watch or clock mechanism to computer technology and GPS, and you see he’s got his mission control — he’s in this unit, just flying back and forth between these computer screens.
Tockman is intellectually a worthy opponent. There were a lot more mind games going on in this episode than there would be in some of the other ones. His fighting is with words and cat-and-mouse games, as opposed to actual physical contact. Which I think, the way we’ve developed and created Tockman, is he could actually do that. It’s not like he’s going to be confronted by it and say “Oh no!” and run away. I think he could hold his own. Maybe that’s down the road a little bit in some other episodes.
Would you want to play the Clock King in more episodes?
I would love to play him again.
He’s got this whole thing going on where he’s fighting for his sister, to get some money for his sister. And my sister is very ill with MS — I almost lost her last week. … And it brought back memories of this episode. I had this little card that I kept as Tockman, always to my right, to remind me that this was not a caricature, this was a person who was doing something bad for a very good reason.
To me, whatever happens to [my sister], whenever it happens to her, she’s the dearest thing in my life. And I totally understand that about this guy fighting for his sister … I’d love to keep fighting for her and fighting against MS. And in a way, in kind of a sick and twisted way, it’s all I can do, with this character.
Why do you think you get cast as the villain so often?
‘Cause I’m one big, ugly motherf***er!
I want to work! I love acting! To me, the most important thing that I do is to keep doing it, instead of talking about it … And then I kind of did a few of these kind of things — and I don’t know why I was playing the bad guy, except that bad guys generally have to be pretty smart and they have to figure out how to get out of a situation.
And I’m bony, I’ve got a bony face. And I think bad guys tend to be more bony than heavier guys — I think heavier guys tend to be more comedic. And I happen to grow up with the mentality where I always thought I was stupid. And the more stupid I thought I was, the smarter I wanted to be. Bad guys generally are people that are pretty crafty — they don’t like to get caught. I just felt like that’s probably the seed of a lot of it. Beautiful men are not necessarily always smart. And bad guys tend to be smart. That’s how I kind of look at it.
Either way, it saves a lot of money on therapy, because you get to work out a lot of things.
“Time of Death” airs Wednesday (Feb. 26) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.