The “Where Do I Know You From?” Files, Part 7: Colin Donnell The “Where Do I Know You From?” Files, Part 7: Colin Donnell
Stephanie Hall looks at previous credits of the talented Colin Donnell, who plays Tommy Merlyn on Arrow. The “Where Do I Know You From?” Files, Part 7: Colin Donnell

In the weeks surrounding the Arrow premiere, I thought it would be fun to get to know the cast and their past roles. The final entry in the “Where Do I Know You From?” Files is Colin Donnell.

An actor with a greater background in theater than television, Colin Donnell is no stranger to the spotlight, and for good reason. He captivates viewers, whether by acting, singing, or dancing. Here is a (spoiler-filled) overview of some notable roles you may have seen him in before we get to know him more as Tommy Merlyn on Arrow.

PAN AM (ABC, 2011-2012)
Season 1, Episodes 3, 7, 10, 11
Character: Mike Ruskin

In 1963 America, Mike Ruskin is a columnist for The Village Voice whom Maggie Ryan, Pan Am stewardess, bonds with on a flight. Mike is assigned to cover President Kennedy’s speech in Berlin and Maggie desires to meet the president, trying to bribe Mike into helping her in exchange for bumping him up to first class or aiding him with articles. He eventually hands her a press pass. A few weeks later, Mike invites Maggie to his office, where she thinks she’ll have a meeting with his editor about publishing her article on a congressman. Mike tells her that her article is too critical and not persuasive, but compliments her passion and intelligence. He later submits her article for publication because of blank space in the paper, to which she is oddly upset. After she has been ignoring his calls, Mike goes to Maggie’s home, where he finds out that she is now sleeping with the congressman. Mike warns her that the congressman’s staff is bent on discovering who wrote the piece, which they do.

A considerate man, Mike is introduced as a blend of charming and funny, a nice guy with an alluring aura. Mike dedicates himself to his work, having his desk covered in files and being seen almost exclusively in situations that revolve around his job. But, his interactions with Maggie provide an opportunity to see his personality. Even when he tells Maggie that her article needs to be reworked, he does so in an upstanding manner, not crushing her dream but simply suggesting improvement. When he speaks with Maggie at her house, Mike presents some variety to his character, turning his usual light demeanor into a more strict, but justifiable, one.

Colin Donnell has had a flawless transition from theater to television. Never does he over-act or rely on gesture above emotion, but masters the subtlety of expression and conveys lightness and seriousness just as effectively. Donnell’s charisma is present from his first scene and he constantly engages the viewer.


While I have never had the pleasure of seeing Colin Donnell on stage, from the amount of time I found myself on YouTube watching him perform on talk shows, I wish I had. Donnell has undeniable stage presence and exceptional enthusiasm, not to mention a wonderfully smooth voice. And it has been stated that he dances as effortlessly as Gene Kelly. For his role in Anything Goes, Donnell was nominated for three awards: the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, the Astaire Award for Outstanding Male Dancer, and the Outer Critics Circle for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.

Jersey Boys (2005-2007, Broadway); Almost Heaven: The Songs of John Denver (2005, Off-Broadway); Mamma Mia! (2006, National Tour); Jesus Christ Superstar (2006; Beverly, MA); Meet Me in St. Louis (2006, Off-Broadway); Follies (2007, Off-Broadway); Me, Myself, And I (2007; Princeton, NJ); High School Musical On Stage! (2008); Wicked (2009; National Tour); Johnny Baseball (2010; Cambridge, MA); Anything Goes (2011, Broadway); Merrily We Roll Along (2012, Off-Broadway)

Here is a video of Colin’s musical talent from the CBS morning  program The Early Show:


LA Noire (video game voice, 2011)

See Colin Donnell in Arrow – Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW!

If you missed last week’s file on David Ramsey, check it out here.

Stephanie Hall