Ra’s al Ghul has had various interpretations over the years, from David Warner’s gentlemanly strategist in the animated Batman series to Liam Neeson’s more personal philosophy driven interpretation in “Batman Begins”.
On Wednesday night The CW’s “Arrow” introduced its version, played by former Australian football player turned acclaimed actor Matt Nable. The role was only a few lines and one very brief on screen appearance, barely a cameo, but does hint at a different interpretation again.
If there was one surprise it’s that Nable look and accent were only partly adjusted, meaning the character certainly sounds and appears different than some expected. Executive producer Marc Guggenheim tells MTV that they deliberately didn’t follow the comic books when it came to casting:
“In our casting process, we didn’t want to go with the willowy, sinewy Ra’s that was established in the comics. We wanted someone who would be a formidable physical presence. You can get away with that live sinewy Ra’s when it’s being drawn by Neal Adams, but when you actually have to put something in front of a camera, we thought it was better to have someone who added a good physical presence to that.
He’s definitely the main antagonist of the season. He’s responsible for a lot of the events that kick off the year, and reverberate throughout the season. He’s our Big Bad, and he’s a very different kind of Big Bad than we’ve had, Malcolm Merlyn and Slade Wilson. Ra’s exists above it all. He’s so much more powerful than Malcolm or Slade. He has so much deeper reach, and he has a much larger organization at his beck and call. He’s just a very different kind of foe.”
Meanwhile actor Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver Queen, was asked about Nable:
“He’s great. I had my first opportunity to work with him recently and he’s wonderful. He’s really good. The character has a very worldly feel without being… I wouldn’t call it exotic at all. When I saw the reveal of his wardrobe at Comic-Con, I thought somewhat exotic, but he grounds it and he puts it into our world. I’m very excited for his development on the show.”