‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Star Brandon Routh Teases ‘ET’ Homage: Ray Becomes ‘Judgemental’ of Himself

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” which is now in its third season, is upping the ante on pop culture references.

After a second season that included an episode with a young George Lucas getting some ideas for his iconic “Star Wars” from things he ended up witnessing the Legends do, this third season is paying an homage to “E.T: the Extra-Terrestrial” with a trip back to the 1980s to save a young Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh).

“I like that we’re starting to do this more with the show,” Brandon Routh tells Variety. “In the first season, we did more hints of dialogue of pieces of catchy phrases from old movies. That was fun, but I like that we’re going more whole hog and making episodes that are themed like this.”

The fourth episode of the third season, entitled “Phone Home,” finds the Legends returning to the 1980s to find that a younger version of Ray has befriended a baby Dominator – the same alien species that threatened the planet during last year’s big crossover episode.

Here, Routh speaks with Variety about Ray interacting with his younger self, his impressions of Zari (Tala Ashe) and what movie he’d want to pay homage to next.w

How does Ray handle meeting a version of himself he can actually talk to and interact with?

He’s a little bit shocked. Young Ray is not acting normally, not the way that the older Ray remembers acting – because young Ray is helping the baby Dominator, a la Elliott and E.T. He becomes a little judgemental of himself.

Going back to the place you grew up can be very nostalgic – in both good and bad ways. How does Ray handle it?

He’s excited to go home, it’s a place he never thought he’d revisit. He sees his mom and himself at that time, and he also comes to understand his relationship with what he thought were his friends – the older kids that were his bullies. He’d made that into a story that they were friends and were just playfully teasing. He comes to understand as an adult that that wasn’t quite the way it was.

Will going back home bring back any bad memories, or did he truly just convince himself everything was OK and even the bullies were really his friends?

Ray is such a glass half full guy most of the time, and maybe it’s because he couldn’t deal with all the bullying so he glossed over it. It tends to happen with people who say ‘it wasn’t that big of a deal. It didn’t affect me’ but in a positive way. I think that’s the way Ray envisioned a lot of his youth. He was more lonely than he wants to accept as an adult.

Ray and the rest of the Legends have experiences dealing with Dominators, but how do they react to seeing a cute baby Dominator?

Ray’s pretty fascinated from a science perspective, and also it’s a cute creature as a baby. But he’s quickly whisked away by the baby as mini-Atom and is more worried about being ripped apart. The cuteness factor dies pretty quickly for Ray.

What is Ray’s read on Zari, the newest member of the team?

They’re kinda at both ends of the spectrum – where Zari sees the world as a more dark, unforgiving place, and Ray’s the opposite of that. They clash a bit in their viewpoints on that, but they definitely can connect on the science and programming side, and the geek/tech side, which is what happens further into the season as well. Where Ray tends to be a little to hard on himself sometimes in the episode, Zari is there to be the more comforting, reassuring, compassionate side to Ray’s younger self.

If the writers came to you and asked what movie you’d want the show to do an homage to next, what would you choose?

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Our show gets that schticky sometimes, and that’s fun, and that’s one of my favorite comedic movies of all-time. I think it would be something that could fit within our show to do something that absurd.

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” airs on Tuesdays at 9 pm on the CW.

More TV

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

  • Teyonah Parris

    Teyonah Parris Cast in 'WandaVision' at Disney Plus

    “Mad Men” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” actress Teyonah Parris has been cast in Disney Plus’ “Wanda Vision” series. She will play an adult version of Monica Rambeau, a child character introduced in the film “Captain Marvel.” The announcement was made at Marvel’s Comic-Con presentation. The forthcoming Disney+ series about Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth [...]

  • Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx - NOS4A2

    'NOS4A2' Renewed for Season 2 at AMC

    AMC has renewed “NOS4A2” for a second season. The news was announced during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con and ahead of the Season 1 finale. Season 2 will consist of 10 episodes and is slated to air in 2020. The series, which is based on the 2013 Joe Hill novel of the same [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Signs Netflix Deal With Expanded Coverage

    SAG-AFTRA and streaming giant Netflix have agreed to a new three-year contract with expanded coverage for union performers. Netflix has previously employed SAG-AFTRA members under the union’s standard master contracts for television and film and had been signing on a production by production basis. The union announced Saturday that the new deal recognizes performance capture as covered work [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show photocall,

    Cara Delevingne Says Her 'Carnival Row' Character Is Pansexual, Explains Defending Taylor Swift Against Justin Bieber

    Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom’s love affair may be at the center of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series “Carnival Row,” but the British actress doesn’t want viewers to assume her faerie character is heterosexual. “I’m a pansexual faerie,” Delevingne told Variety during an exclusive one-on-one interview at Comic-Con adding that there are other queer [...]

  • 'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins

    'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins 'Arrow' Final Season

    “Russian Doll” standout Charlie Barnett is joining the “Arrowverse.” Barnett, who is having a busy year having also appeared in Netflix’s “Tales of the City,” comes on board in the series regular role of John Diggle, Jr., son of David Ramsey’s character. News of his casting was announced at the show’s farewell Comic-Con panel where things [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content