DC's Ryan Choi (a.k.a. The Atom) will make his live-action debut this December as part of the Arrow-verse's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover event. And he's being played by a fan of the character, Osric Chau.
Chau, who's coming off a run on fellow CW show Supernatural, tells Newsarama that he's been angling for this role for almost a decade, after being a fan of the character since a child.
Originally created by Gail Simone and Grant Morrison for her run on The Atom title, the character was recently revitalized in JLA with a revised origin and even deeper ties to the other Atom, Ray Palmer.
And while Chau says that he hasn't been fitted for an Atom costume (yet), he has big ideas of where his Ryan Choi could go next.
Newsarama: Osric, tell us a bit about your version of Ryan Choi?
Osric Chau: Well I guess it's the only version right now. I absolutely love playing Ryan. I read the comics a while back and there's a lot of little details that I wanted to put in, but being the new guy on set I didn’t want to rock the boat too much.
If they bring Ryan back, I think I'll have more confidence in putting it in. For some of those little beats, if he takes too long or if he adds in a second - they just can't do it in the edit and they'd have to cut it out anyway. So, I think for this I was more concerned of just making sure I did my job before I start throwing in all those little things that I love so much about the comics.
Nrama: You’ve read the comic books before taking the role. Were you a DC Comics or comic book fan in general growing up?
Chau: I don’t usually read comics. The Ryan Choi comics were actually the first I read as a kid and I only read it because my roommate - this was like seven, eight years ago - my roommate, we went through a list of all these superheroes I could play. If you could play a superhero it would probably be Ryan Choi. Then I got all of Ryan Choi comics and I was like, "Yeah, you’re right."
And this was like way back when superheroes were just starting to become prominent, and as this Asian actor I was like I got to do something towards that. We actually put a pitch packet together for Ryan Choi because I did a lot of research and I love the story. I even connected with Gail Simone who is the writer of it. So, when I came to the audition - they're were fake sides, but I knew right away I'm like, "This is Ryan." Like I told the writers in the room like "This is Ryan, right?" I think I definitely caught them off guard.
Nrama: Tell us more. What was the auditioning process like?
Chau: It was pretty quick. Normally you get a call from your agent and they tell you this role is coming in. The side was Steve Wagner, and I was like "That doesn’t seem right." I looked through the sides and like, okay, these lines alluded to him, he's probably here. And then I'm like wait how many heroes are from DC, and I was like "Oh My God this is Ryan Choi." So that was really exciting.
And of course, you know, the Asian community is so small. So, I went in the room with a bunch of friends who are in the waiting room chatting and then I went in and I definitely prepared it a lot. So, I went in full of confidence. Then I flew to Australia the next day, for a convention over there in Brisbane and on my way to the airport to fly to Sydney that's when I got the call. And that was like three days after and they're like "Can you be in Vancouver tomorrow?" I'm like "I'll try." So, I just went to the international airport and flew back.
Nrama: What in particular about Ryan do you enjoy about the character?
Chau: I like his crew a lot. Well, I don't know why, but I love old people doing their thing and his sidekicks are a bunch of like old professors. So as much as he's a total geek, his team is somehow even geekier, and I just loved their dynamic. Again, it's so rare to see Asian representation in a comic book. And that was the first comic I ever read that had an Asian character portrayed in such a way. I just loved it.
Nrama: What can we expect from Ryan in "Crisis on Infinite Earths"?
Chau: They're really strict on this stuff. I mean it's a pretty cool introduction. Uh, I will, I'm very happy with how he's introduced. I'm very happy with his involvement in it.
Things shift all the time, so who knows what the final product will be, but it was really cool to be there in the company that I got to be there with. I think they certainly set him up to be a pretty cool character in this universe. I'm just excited to see where it goes from here.
Nrama: In the comics, Ryan is a legacy character of the Atom (Ray Palmer). Does he get to interact with Ray or even Brandon Routh’s Superman?
Chau: So that's the cool thing. Ray Palmer has the first scene with Ryan, along with Iris and Elongated Man. So, there's definitely a moment where he sees his predecessor for that story still there. They are forever penpals, like in the comics where he sets it up and all of a sudden he just like takes the mantle. It’s not like that.
This is very much Ryan Choi as Ryan Choi. He's a professor at a university one of his idols comes in and he gets to meet him - that's a cool moment. And like for me, I was a big fan of Brandon as well. I loved his Superman and I know it gets a lot of flack but, I actually really enjoyed it. So, it was a cool moment because that first day I got to meet him as well.
Nrama: Do you want a suit? Do you want to become a superhero or explore more of Ryan Choi as a character?
Chau: Are you kidding? Of course, I wanted a suit. I mean it happened so fast, within a week I had already gone to Australia, rushed back and was in a fitting room. So, there's definitely no time for a suit, but that being said, I love that we get to explore Ryan.
I love to see a human amongst heroes and just to see that dynamic because everyone is so super everyone. Everyone is so capable of dealing with these situations. And I think Ryan brings a real human element to it that he just won. It was really nice to see a human without powers or any experience. And, personally, I love that journey of getting to that point where you do have the tights on. So, at some point, I hope so, but I have loved exploring human Ryan.
Nrama: If you can be a regular on any of the DC TV shows which one would it be?
Chau: Personally, I think Ryan can have his own show.
Nrama: I would love to see that!
Chau: The Lighter Than Air Society would be incredible. I would love to do that, but until than I have an affinity for The Flash and just crazy wackiness of Legends of Tomorrow. I think Legends is so underrated. I love their humor. Yeah, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow would be my top two.
Nrama: What was it like being a new cast member for such a big TV event?
Chau: Logistically, I was just in awe of everything that was happening. It was so crazy from the beginning to the end. It happened so fast and they have so many moving pieces. Sometimes they're like, "Okay, we're on the Legends set with Arrow crew, but we're shooting with The Flash. And then halfway through we're changing the show we're shooting.
So, it was kind of confusing, and the crew was like mixed from, the makeup team following the actors and you have the crew from the actual set, you have the crew from the show you're shooting with depending on which department.
So, for me, I was just trying to figure it out logistically and just very impressed by the whole thing's being put together.
Nrama: You said you watched Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash. How much of the DC TV shows have you seen?
Chau: I try to be a productive human being and there's so many shows. I don't think it's possible for me to watch all of them. I've watched one episode from all of the shows just to understand the different tones and watched the crossovers from last season. That's about it. Like I'm a big fan of the superhero genre, but I can only watch it on the plane – that’s the time where I get to consume as much media as I as a can.
Nrama: To wrap, what character did you want Ryan to interact with the most?
Chau: I didn't really set any expectations. I think it was such a whirlwind and there's just so much excitement to be in the universe, let alone being in the universe as Ryan Choi that I had no expectations. I mean I’m glad that Ryan got to meet Ray Palmer. That’s super awesome. That's the one I would want it to happen. But Ryan got to meet a lot of people. I can't say who else.