Liam Neeson may have told reporters last week that he would gladly reprise his role as Ra's Al Ghul for The CW's “Arrow,” but to the surprise of literally nobody a different actor has been set for the part.
On Thursday (September 4) morning, “Arrow” star Stephen Amell coyly tweeted “Please welcome Matt Nable to Arrow. You know who he's playing.” And in case you didn't know who he's playing, Amell included a picture of DC Comics' supervillain and League of Assassins frontman Ra's Al Ghul, most famously played by Neeson in “Batman Begins.”
In July at San Diego's Comic-Con, WBTV and “Arrow” announced that Ra's Al Ghul would be playing a key role this season. The news came at the end of a clip package that showcased how central Ra's Al Ghul and the League of Assassins have already been to the show's mythology, with ties to John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn and also to the evolution of Black Canary through Al Ghul's daughter Nyssa.
At the time, “Arrow” EP Marc Guggenheim told a small group of reporters, “[W]e have a really clever way of doing Ra's this year that is true to the comic book origins, but also different from the way Ra's was portrayed in the Nolan movies. And that was important to us too, because you don't want to compete with 'Batman Begins,' even though we've always said 'Batman Begins' was a huge influence on us. We really wanted our Ra's to be very different, at least our own 'Arrow'-ified version of him. But it was all just a very natural, slow progression. In fact, even when we were talking about Ra's in the third episode of Season 2 it was like, 'Well how many times should we mention his name and how often should we talk about him?' because that name actually has a lot of power, particularly among comic book fans and we didn't want to over-milk it and over-use it. One of the fun things, I feel, about the Comic-Con trailer that we just showed is that we not only show you a little hint of Ra's, but we also repeat all the times we basically mentioned his name, which shows you how long we've been talking about this and thinking about it.”
The CW's character description reads: “Ra's al Ghul is an iconic villain from the pages of DC Comics. He is the leader of the League of Assassins, and father of Nyssa al Ghul (played by Katrina Law). Proud and unforgiving, Ra's is a ruthless strategist, a master of martial arts, and a shaper of history. He carries the wisdom of the ages, and protects some of its greatest secrets.”
So who, exactly, is Matthew Nable?
Well, he's a former rugby league footballer, as the Aussies like to say, playing fleetingly in the Winfield Cup Premiership for the Manly-Warringah and South Sydney clubs. And by “fleetingly,” I mean that he appears to have played eight games at the premiership level.
Nable transitioned from sport to writing, working on the screenplay for the film “The Final Winter,” as well as a pair books. If you recognize Nable, it's probably from roles in the features “Killer Elite” and “Riddick.”
It will be a recurring role for Nable with no set episode count.
Ra's Al Ghul will first appear in the season's fourth “Arrow” episode, titled “The Magician.” That will also be the 50th episode for “Arrow,” if you're scoring at home.
“Arrow” premieres on The CW on October 8.