John Barrowman is that rare person: the multitalented heartthrob.
Barrowmanwho was born in Scotland and raised in Joliet, Illinoismay be best known for playing omnisexual Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and its popular spinoff, Torchwood, although he's fulfilling many a fan's fantasy as Malcolm Merlyn on the CW series Arrow. ( This writer personally remembers him from the short-lived '90s nighttime sudser Central Park West, or C.P.W. )
However, he is also a seasoned theater actor, an accomplished singer with several albums under his belt and a writer ( with one book being Hollow Earth, a fantasy/science-fiction novel for young adults he co-wrote with sister Carole ).
Windy City Times caught up with Barrowman last week, talking with him about his sci-fi work, Broadway, Robin Williams and Barrowman's marriage to Scott Gill.
Windy City Times: Hi, John.
John Barrowman: Hey, Andrew. How are you?
WCT: I'm doing OK. I'm processing what a lot of people arethe passing of Robin Williams. Did you meet him, by any chance?
John Barrowman: No; I never met him. I met his daughter once because she was, I think, the fiancee to Colin Donnell, who played my son on Arrow. I never met [Williams], but it's very sad.
WCT: Indeed, it is. However, you mentioned Arrow, so let's move on to that. First of all, I think the show has the best-looking cast on television.
John Barrowman: Laughs] YOU said it! We're alright; we're not bad on the eyes.
The funny thing about Arrow is that I was joking with some people the other day that, even when working in theater, I was the youngest in the company. Now I'm the oldest. I'm the daddy.
WCT: I can empathize, believe me. Tell our readers about your character on Arrow, who has the best name.
John Barrowman: Malcolm Merlyn is a ruthless businessman, and he had to be becauseand this is my backstory with ithe married his childhood sweetheart, had a baby very quickly and had to build a world around him to support his family. In the process, he created one of the biggest empires that Starling City [where the show is set] had ever seen.
He wanted to rid the city of all the evil, but went about it the wrong way. He is deemed to be a bad man, but I think of him as a misunderstood hero. Little does Malcolm know that his son is best friends with the Arrow.
He is ruthless, determined and knows what he wants; if you stand in his way, you better watch out. He will knock you sidewaysor he'll just kill you to get you out of the way.
WCT: I like ambition, but I don't know about killing someone.
John Barrowman: [Laughs] Remember that it's a comic-book world, so some of the things that happen are fantastic, if that makes any sense.
It's such a good show, because Oliver [The Arrow, played by Stephen Amell] is not a superhero; he's a young man who does exceptional things, and to have him do things in that fantasy world is really a great thing.
WCT: So how often are you asked about a Torchwood reunion?
John Barrowman: Every day, gosh, depending on where I am. If I'm on Twitter, there'll be 500 questions like that, right off the bat, when I sign in. It's every single dayand that's something to be really proud of. When I go to conventions, they are continuing to ask, "When is Captain Jack coming back?"
The bottom line is that it's not my decision; it's the decision of the producers. Captain Jack was a creation of Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat and Julie Gardner, and he's a BBC entity so it's up to them if they want [Captain Jack] to come back.
Personally, I think they should bring him back. I love my career and I love Arrow, but I know the popularity of the Captain Jack character. He was a groundbreaking character for many, many people who were able to watch a gay man playing an omnisexual man who didn't give a shit about what people thought about his sexuality. He changed the face of television, and I think it's sad he's not there any more.
WCT: I miss that show as well.
John Barrowman: Well, start the campaign! [Laughs] The producers of Arrow are huge fans of both Captain Jack and Doctor Who, and they said to me when they were celebrating Doctor Who's 50th anniversary that if I needed to go and do something, that was fine.
WCT: It's so close, but so far.
John Barrowman: Yepbut things move on, and we move forward. If I had sat around and waited for Captain Jack to come around, I'd be bankrupt.
WCT: Looking at your resume, you truly have done a lot. Going to Broadway, if you could be in any production of your choosing, what would it be?
John Barrowman: Well, I would do one show over again because I adored the story and its message, and I had a ball doing it every single time: La Cage [aux Folles, which Barrowman did in 2009 in London's West End]. I'd want to on a tour of the U.S. or the U.K.
The reason I won't say specifically say I'd go back on Broadway is that, for me, touring is the way you meet the public who supports you. That's why I like doing conventions; I get to meet the people who have, to put it bluntly, changed my life and made it exceptional.
I get requests from all types of peopleyoung couples, straight men and women ( not just gay men )to do La Cage again. I would love to.
WCT: So now I have two campaigns.
John Barrowman: [Laughs] Definitely! In fact, with La Cage, maybe I can come down in a 1940s Andrews Sisters outfit, but with a fabulous Captain Jack outfit.
WCT: That'd be an interesting Torchwood episode, actually.
John Barrowman: [Laughs] I don't think that'll happen.
WCT: Lastly, how are you finding married life?
John Barrowman: Married life is just the same as being a partner, because we've been together for 21 years. Our first "marriage" signing was when we signed our mortgage together, but the most important thing about [marriage equality] is the fact that we can and that laws are changing all over the worldand how stupid that we have to say that a law has to change to let somebody love somebody? But, the fact is that it has changed. That's why we got marriednot just because we love each other but we can, and nobody else is telling us not to.
John Barrowman will be just one of many celebrities at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, taking place Aug. 21-24 at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont. Visit www.wizardworld.com/chicago.html.