Before Arrow premieres, I thought it would be fun to get to know the cast and their past roles, so stay tuned for weekly posts. Today’s entry in the “Where Do I Know You From?” files is Paul Blackthorne.
Paul Blackthorne is another actor who has taken on a variety of character types. No stranger to the genre show, Blackthorne has portrayed supernatural beings in addition to grounded human characters. Here is a (spoiler-filled) overview of some notable roles you may have seen him in before we get to know him as Quentin Lance on Arrow.
24 (FOX, 2004)
Season 3, Episodes 15-24
Character: Stephen Saunders
Stephen Saunders is the leader of a terrorist ring focused on releasing a virus to cleanse America. Having been a former MI6 agent, he was assumed dead after a mission with Jack Bauer, making him feel betrayed by the country. Saunders coerces the president into obeying his demands or he will release more vials of the toxin, having already infected a hotel. The Counter Terrorist Unit captures his daughter, Jane, and Saunders takes revenge by kidnapping an agent’s wife to make an exchange. Bauer and the team surround Saunders’ hideout, leading to a foot chase that ends with Bauer arresting him. With eleven vials still unaccounted for, Bauer orders for Jane to be dragged into the quarantined area, eventually causing Saunders to reveal the locations. Saunders is later murdered by a victim’s widow.
Note to self: do not run into Paul Blackthorne in a dark alley. His character embodies the ideal qualities of a villain; he is bossy, hard headed, dedicated, and prepared to die for his cause. But, the most intriguing aspect of the character is how conniving he is, how he can force others into helping him accomplish his goal. He has a twisted sense of belief that these deaths are for the greater good. However evil he may be, Saunders shows hints of genuine care for his daughter. Blackthorne pulls off this diabolical character well. Even with a strong proportion of his shots being just him and a cell phone, his ability to convey a serious threat and alarm the audience is ever present.
THE DRESDEN FILES (SCI FI, 2007-2008)
Season 1, Episodes 1-12
Character: Harry Dresden
A wizard working as a private investigator, Harry Dresden intersperses his own cases with bizarre crimes being investigated by the Chicago police. Harry forms a friendship with Lieutenant Connie Murphy that blossoms into an attraction. Murphy is constantly annoyed that Harry hides key (supernatural) details from her, but telling her only results in forcing her to lie in her line of work. With guidance from a spirit named Bob, Harry struggles to avoid again tapping into dangerous dark magic while solving cases involving monsters, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, hellions, and Egyptian artifacts that cause body swapping. Little by little, information about Bob’s heinous crime and Harry’s family history comes to light.
Even though Harry Dresden acts as if he has to atone for his past, he is still a fun character to watch. Harry is confident and driven, caring and righteous. He has made it a goal to help people with his skills, trying to do what is right in the grand scheme of the world instead of acting how the High Council does to benefit themselves. My favorite quality of Henry’s is his sarcasm, how he is completely unaffected by the witty things he says. There is something very professional about Paul Blackthorne’s acting in this show. Normally, I am not fond of this style, but here it compliments the character. I also must give him props for being able to pull off the voice over.
LIPSTICK JUNGLE (NBC, 2008-2009)
Season 1, Episodes 1-7; Season 2, Episodes 1-13
Character: Shane Healy
Once an excellent club pianist, Shane Healy now spends his time as an average restaurateur standing in his successful wife’s shadow. Although Shane is proud of his wife, Wendy, he desires his own time to shine. Wendy covertly takes his old demo CD and submits it for a film scoring job. Shane is hired for his first of multiple like jobs. He soon signs with a music manager, Josie, whom Wendy becomes jealous of because of Josie’s obvious interest in Shane. His rise in work combined with Wendy being fired contributes to marital problems and their two children rebelling. Natasha Bedingfield, one of Josie’s clients, offers Shane a spot on her four-month tour. After much debate and mulling over every option, Wendy finally supports her husband’s decision to join this rock tour.
The best part about the character of Shane is how real and understandable he is. When Shane is acting too proud to accept that he does not financially support the family, the audience cannot help but feel for him. He appears slightly broken, but refusing to accept failure, he does not let it keep him down. All his actions and emotions are genuinely motivated. Lipstick Jungle was the last role I watched Blackthorne in, and I was surprised and glad at how humorous he can be. Additionally, we see him play a loving father and a husband with a tinge of charm, and after watching him as a terrorist, a wizard, and a vampire, it is impressive how he can portray this wonderful human character.
THE GATES (ABC, 2010)
Season 1, Episodes 3, 4, 6, 8-10
Character: Christian Harper
Christian Harper first appears when he sneaks up on Claire in a parking lot. They soon reconnect over a candlelit dinner. Having known Claire and her husband, Dylan, when the three of them did not suppress their vampirism, he has been trying to move on, but keeps being drawn back to her. Christian tells Claire that Dylan does not properly appreciate her. Christian proceeds to break her sire bond with Dylan, completing his goal of causing a serious strife in the marriage. Dylan assaults Christian, ties him to a tree, and leaves him to burn in the sun for a while. For revenge, Christian kidnaps their daughter, Emily, but he is captured and unknowingly reveals Emily’s location. Stating that someone paid for his release, the police dump him on a deserted road where Claire emerges from the trees and stakes him.
There are two drastically different sides to Christian Harper: the old-school vampire and the suave man in pursuit of a lady, neither of which overpower the other. There is always room for surprise with this character; he feeds on a woman and later acts goofy when telling Emily a story. In this role, Paul Blackthorne radiates a confident power that makes the character worthwhile. He infuses what could have been a straightforward antagonistic individual with charisma that almost makes you root for Christian.
THE RIVER (ABC, 2012)
Season 1, Episodes 1-8
Character: Clark Quietly
Clark Quietly is a cameraman onboard the ship Magnus that is searching for the missing Dr. Emmett Cole. Having been Emmett’s friend and the producer of his adventure television show, Clark convinces Tess and Lincoln Cole to let him film their journey through the Amazon by offering to fund the entire trip. While on the river, supernatural events continually happen and affect everyone onboard. Clark experiences his fair share of pain, including temporary blindness, a stab wound, and an operation, but the most painful may be Tess’ rejection. The two once had an affair, but things fizzled down when Tess realized that her husband could still be alive.
While aboard the Magnus, Clark appears most concerned with getting the footage he needs for his documentary. He can be rude and abrupt because he is more driven by his work than his concern for others. Many people would consider his attitude cynical, but he would describe himself as a realist. Although Clark can be an off-putting character, Paul Blackthorne makes him worth watching. Because The River is filmed in a combination of found-footage and documentary-style, there is an intriguing aspect to his acting. His transition between television acting and reality-style acting is effortless.
Holby City (BBC , 2001), Season 3, Episodes 18, 21-30; ER (NBC, 2004), Season 10, Episodes 13, 15, 16, 19, 21; Big Shots (ABC, 2007-2008), Season 1, Episodes 2-10; Peak Practice (ITV, 2009), Season 7, Episodes 2, 4, 6, 7; Leverage (TNT, 2010), Season 2, Episodes 14, 15; Warehouse 13 (SYFY, 2010), Season 2, Episode 13; White Collar (USA, 2010-2011), Season 2, Episodes 9, 10
See Paul Blackthorne next in Arrow – Wednesday, October 10 on The CW!
If you missed last week’s file on Willa Holland, check it out here.