Jonah Hex is coming to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow — really, though, the Legends will be coming to him as the group sets out for the Wild West during Thursday’s episode.
With time assassins hunting them, the team sets course for the Old West, where an ally of Rip’s, Jonah Hex (Johnathon Schaech), steps in to help them. For the uninitiated, Jonah Hex is a legendary Civil War veteran-turned-bounty hunter with his own moral code about saving innocent victims. Known in the comics as the deadliest man alive, Hex has a horribly disfigured face, which is otherwise known as the mark of the demon.
On Legends, Hex is a morally ambiguous gunslinger with a penchant for danger. Surprisingly, he knows a thing or two about time travel and the future, but is at home in the Wild West. He’s been battling outlaws and gangs for awhile now, and advises the team to be extra careful when they arrive in the small town of Salvation. EW turned to Schaech to get the scoop on Hex:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you tell us about Jonah Hex?
JOHNATHON SCHAECH: He’s set in the Wild West. The Legends crew goes back in time to resolve something that happened in the past and to get the cast to learn something they all need to learn, especially Rip. Jonah is pretty much like he is in the comic books. He is a gunslinger, he’s got a moral code that he lives by and helps and protects the innocent. He’s a rough-and-tumble guy, but he always does the right thing.
Is he at all surprised about the time travel aspect of it all?
He knows. He’s seen it before. That’ll come across in the episode. Throughout Jonah Hex’s previous life before this episode, he was a time-traveler. He actually traveled in time, so it’s fitting for him to understand.
Will this episode explore why his face is disfigured with the mark of the demon?
No. We don’t get into his backstory so much. The mark of the demon is there! We took a long time putting it there too.
How dangerous is the town of Salvation?
It’s pretty much as bad as Fallujah now.
How does he feel about these strangers coming into town?
He’s curious. He’s interested in the whole thing. He finds it to be very entertaining and knows there’s some reason they’re there. He knows he has to take care of them in some way.
So he’ll actually help the team?
The way I looked at it is that I’m a Legend — not me — Jonah Hex is a Legend. These are the Legends of Tomorrow. If they’re not fully-fledged Legends yet, they have to learn what a Legend is. What a Legend becomes is what a hero is about. Jonah Hex is naturally a hero because of the circumstances of where he comes from. In the Old West, you had to stand up for yourself; you had to live or die. Jonah Hex was a hero because he protected the people that couldn’t protect themselves. He really teaches these guys the way to be a hero in a very black-and-white format; very clear.
Is there anyone on the team he bonds with?
He has a past with Rip. He has something that is unresolved with Rip. That’s what the whole episode is really all about.
Had you read the Jonah Hex comics before taking the role?
When I grew up up, my father gave me two comic books: Jonah Hex and Sgt. Rock. It was called All-Star Western or something. I still have the Jonah Hex and Sgt. Rock comic books from when I was young. When I was older, we had Spider-Man on TV and Justice League and I started following the Hulk. But really when I was growing up, it was Jonah Hex and Sgt. Rock. I knew exactly who Jonah Hex was and I was really interested to see what they wanted to do with him. They kept him exactly who he is.
Having read the comics, is that what attracted you to this role?
Yeah. Jonah Hex is more of an antihero. We see a lot of that in television today, even Dexter was the hero, but the antihero because he’s a serial killer. Hex was not your typical clean-cut version of what a hero is all about, but he is a hero and always rises up to it at the end of the day for somebody else.
Is there a possibility we’ll see more of Jonah? Could he join the team at some point?
It depends if you like me or not. [Laughs] I know that there’s a wide-open potential because he is a time traveler. He’s an interesting character and can blend in with the group very well, but he’s very distinctive. We’ll see what they want to do with him. I’d love to keep playing Jonah Hex. It’s a dream come true.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.