With superheroes dominating the small screen in recent years, we’ve not only seen a new generation of talented young actors run with the torch passed to them when portraying some of the most iconic characters to ever leap off the page, but many are also being brought to life for the first time. Having said that, it makes the current era doubly exciting.
A fine example of the latter is that of Mr. Terrific – Curtis Holt in this incarnation – who makes his live action debut courtesy of brilliant performances delivered by Echo Kellum. Unlike most burgeoning vigilantes, Kellum had the opportunity to flesh out his character for a full year before officially suiting up as part of Team Arrow.
It’s kind of funny how that brings an interesting dynamic to the character. Originally a tech savvy genius who helped Felicity Smoak at Palmer Technologies, Curtis was undeniably untouchable when behind a computer screen, something now juxtaposed with him hitting the learning curve when it comes to being a vigilante. Kellum agreed with my observation during our recent interview, adding that his character is “definitely touchable in the streets.”
When you think about it, it doesn’t really surprise one to see Kellum pull off this feat. In addition to having a knack for comedy, he also possesses a passion for writing and directing as well as currently working on a hip-hop album. If ever there were a personification of “renaissance man,” it is he.
I recently had the distinct privilege of chatting with Echo, geek to geek. It was a real treat to discuss his time on the hit show Arrow as well as gaining insight into his craft. See what he had to say below, and enjoy!
WGTC: When you originally auditioned for the role of Curtis Holt/Mr. Terrific, were you aware that it was him that you would possibly play or did you suspect another character? Also, were you previously familiar with him?
Echo Kellum: I’m vaguely familiar with the character of Mr. Terrific. I’ve tried to be abreast of all the black superheroes as much as I can. I’ve never read comics about him before. But when I went in to read for the character, I had no idea in any way, shape, or form that he’d be called Mr. Terrific or in any way be related to any superhero. I just thought of him as a tech guy who would possibly help Felicity.
They made a comment like, “I feel you and Emily [Bett Rickards] would have pretty good chemistry together.” And then they called me back to read for [executive producers/showrunners] Marc [Guggenheim] and Wendy [Mericle] and they let me know at the end of the audition that the character is Mr. Terrific. So I was kind of blown away and like “Whoa!” To play a comic book character, that’s something I always wanted to do.
WGTC: The advantage TV has over cinema is that you can develop and introduce characters over the course of 23 episodes, something you just can’t achieve in a movie. As an actor, did you find it more rewarding to flesh out Curtis for a full year before putting on the costume?
EK: Oh, definitely. I never got to experience more than one season on a show, playing one character, so it was pretty cool to come back the next season. It’s like, “oh yeah, you’re playing the same character.” It’s very cool. That’s not something I ever got to do in my career. I’m starting to really gel with Curtis. There are a lot of similarities between myself and him. He’s such a fun character to play, so I’m very thankful… I can’t wait to see where he’s going.