Johnathon Schaech Cowboys Up as Jonah Hex for ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’
Yee haw! DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is heading to the Wild West this week and if you know anything about DC Comics, you know that Jonah Hex is the scarred face of the frontier. Surly, stoic and suffering no fools, the cowboy first rode onto the pages in late 1971 and has been all over the DC universe since. Now, he’s mixing it up with our time-traveling team in the form of Johnathon Schaech (recently seen on Blue Bloods and Quantico), who clearly had the time of his life saddling up for the iconic role.
So what is the version of Jonah Hex like?
It’s the version from the comic-book world. He definitely has this worldliness and understanding of time travel, he’s been through [it] over and over again. He’s a little put off by these innocents that come into this world but he has a history with Rip (Arthur Darvill).
Have these guys traveled through time together?
You know, I don’t know for certain but it’s clear in the storytelling they have a past. I don’t know if … He hasn’t been in the Waverider before but that might be a new ship. Jonah’s world’s been jumbled up because of it in a big way.
So is Rip somebody that he’s happy to see again?
They’re friends! He definitely respects Rip, he’s got a real true understanding of who Rip is and that’s why when they start to get into what happened [between them] in the past, Jonah really wants Rip to be a man and tell him what he already knows.
And what does the team bring to this town? They are clearly not of this era, so how much trouble do they cause when they show up?
Oh, it’s just like great fish-out-of-water story, like “What are you idiots doing here?” They try to fit in and it’s just so clear that they’re not from that world and we have a lot of fun with that.
And Brandon Routh ends up dressed as the sheriff?
Yup. I saw in the trailer that Ray calls himself John Wayne so I could tell you that … He just comes up with the name John Wayne, not that Jonah Hex knows who John Wayne is. [Laughs] Ray is the one I had the most fun with. He comes across so innocent and so naïve but so good, you know such a goody-two-shoes is the word and Jonah’s like “What? You’re going to get yourself killed!”
It looks like you guys filmed a lot of this episode outside in a very muddy set.
Oh my God, it was flooding when we were there. Literally! My twitter is @johnschaech, look at the pictures from around the dates that we filmed and you see the floodwaters. I mean, there’s a river behind this western town that we filmed in and I was just watching it rise up because it was raining so damn hard!
Where was this, like out in the middle of Vancouver?
It was the outskirts of Vancouver. There’s a Western town out there that was obviously built for some series, I don’t know which one it was. But you had the sheriff’s station, it had the church, it had the saloon, it had you know where you would get your horse taken care of.
That’s kind of awesome that it just exists up there and you guys could go and play on it.
Yes, it was, it was really cool. The only problem was it was right near this river that was also flooding! [Laughs]
I imagine there was probably a heavy amount of stunts involved since the Wild West was never just folks sitting around talking.
That’s what it comes down to, the team is pushed to having to do those physical tasks that you would see in a Western movie. You have to use your hands, you have to use your sidearm and you have to use a horse. The good thing about playing Jonah Hex, I say that humbly, is that I can jump on a horse and do pretty much anything. I just did a Western called Texas Riding so I was really ready.
Did they hook you up with any Jonah Hex books from the DC Comics archives so you could study up on him?
They didn’t, but I had some of them from when I was a boy. I did a great deal of research online and then I got some comic books for the flight up to Vancouver because when I looked around I was like “Wow this guy has so many different lives.” He’s been a bounty hunter, a time traveler, time-traveling bounty hunter, he’s fought Batman, Superman… he’s just had a whole life. I wanted to do as much research as I possibly could to play this character to the best, fullest and truest.
I think lot of people assume that he’s actually a bad guy.
He looks mean, he looks like the bad guy. Today there’s all the antiheroes that are bad guys that do good things. Like Dexter is the perfect example of the antihero. So Jonah Hex, in some places, is the outlaw. Sometimes for no reason, just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It seemed like any family that he ever got in the comic-book world, any love that he ever achieved, was always taken away from him. Some places he was the sheriff, he was the law man, he was a bounty hunter that could do right. He’s kind of taken an oath to always protect the innocents if they needed protecting.
And of course, there is his look. How was that whole experience with the prosthetics?
I was frightened when I first went up there because I thought they were going to put me in a full head cast and you know, you have to breath through a straw through you nose and I don’t know if my sinuses will work. So here I am, a grown man and I’m going to start to cry, but they were great. They got me in and out of the face cast and we just went to town, going back and forth with Marc [Guggenheim, executive producer] about the final look of him and it’s great. We took a lot of time to make sure this was a very unique Jonah that was true to the character of the past. Like I said, I grew up understanding Jonah Hex in a certain way and I think we really got that across.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Thursdays, 8/7c, The CW.