Legends of Tomorrow boss unpacks Donald Faison's debut and that poignantly wacky Avalance twist
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Warning: This article contains spoilers from the season 7 finale of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which aired Wednesday night.
Yes, Donald Faison is playing exactly who you think he is on DC's Legends of Tomorrow.
The zany superhero dramedy's WWI-set season 7 finale revealed that the Scrubs alum has been cast as the time-traveling DC Comics hero Booster Gold, which was heavily hinted in the character description that was released when EW broke the news of his casting. In the comics, Booster Gold is a glory-seeking disgraced former athlete from the future who travels to the path with stolen technology to make a name for himself as a superhero. (The character made his live action debut in the finale of Smallville, played by Eric Martsolf).
The Legends cross paths with the roguish time traveler while trying to save Alun from dying, which is a fixed point in time that Booster is in charge of guarding. Unfortunately, Booster betrays them not once, but twice. First, he steals the Waverider. Later on, he returns, picks the team up, and hands them over to a gang of time cops. While Legends hasn't been renewed for another season, this ending left the squad in quite a quagmire.
With the arrival of a new character, Legends also had say goodbye to one of their own. Should the show be renewed, the season 7 finale is Nick Zano's last as a series regular. After saving Allen and losing his steel powers because of mustard gas, Nate decides to finally join Zari 1.0 in the totem. Meanwhile, a stunned Sara (Caity Lotz) learns she's pregnant with Ava's (Jes Macallan) child thanks to her aliens powers, which is a classically galaxy-brained Legends of Tomorrow twist.
Below, EW chats with co-showrunner Phil Klemmer about Booster Gold's arrival, Avalance's surprising pregnancy, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I'm surprised no one on the team mentioned their last trip to WWI in the season 2 finale in this episode.
PHIL KLEMMER: Yeah, seems a lifetime ago that we did that. And actually, that was the most difficult episode I've ever written. So personally, I can't believe that we actually would dare go back there again. The multiple Legends thing, that almost broke my brain.
Arrowverse boss Greg Berlanti has reportedly been working on a Booster Gold movie for years. How did the character wind up on Legends?
As you might expect, through the side door you'd least expect it [to]. I just remember [co-showrunner Keto Shimizu] and I were on a call with Kim Roberto at DC, and we were just talking about fun characters. I think somebody threw it out there, of course never [imagining] in a million years would we get Booster Gold. And then it felt like 15 minutes later, DC called us back and was just like, "Hey, Booster's yours." And just you have a moment of being like, "Okay, this is clearly a prank of some sort, because..." We were all giddy and in disbelief and then it just became a quest of finding an actor who was worthy of the character.
Which ended up being Donald Faison!
Again, you have these moments of not wanting to allow yourself to get your heart set on someone like Donald Faison and we saw it taking shape and [couldn't] believe this [was] happening. And then you have this moment of finally meeting the guy, and obviously we're all super familiar with his work. He just hopped on a Zoom from... For whatever reason he was hiding in his wife's closet. I think it had good acoustics or he was trying to avoid something else in the house. And you're like, "This guy is the best." This guy loves the show, loves the world. He's as steeped in this stuff as any of us who've been working on the show for seven years.
He just walked on set and immediately knew every single crew person's name. I showed up for the second half of the finale and he already had these inside jokes with everybody else. I started to get jealous [Laughs]. It was exactly what we needed to get through what it takes to shoot World War I, trenches, snow. As it did in season 2, it was real snow, real rain, real sleet. Look, the bodies were fake, but other than that, it was very much a battleground. And then he comes on and just to have that infusion of energy from somebody who's walking into it for the first time, you're like "Oh God, we're so lucky to have him."
Why was Booster Gold on your mind to begin with? Were you just looking for a DC character to bring in at the end of the season? How did Booster end up fitting the needs of the story?
It's always the tonal fit and just knowing, I don't know, there's just something so lovable and unexpected. You just knew that he was going to work as kind of a bit of the merry prankster, a bit of a BS artist. But yeah, it's also the bittersweetness of saying goodbye to one character and getting to know another one. There's that moment where Nick Zano in the 10th scene in the finale… It really does feel there is a passing of the torch in that moment.
Nick Zano's energy and Donald Faison's energy, these are distinct performers and people. But I don't know, there is this tremendous loss with Nick Zano leaving and almost psychologically, you have to somehow [move forward]. We have the promise of a new character, a new dynamic, just new stories. I don't know [if] that takes some of the sting out, but I got to say being there on Nick's last day [was] really devastating to watch a cast and crew surround this guy who's so beloved. He's leaving on the best possible terms.
Just to confirm: If Legends is renewed for another season, Nick won't be returning as a series regular?
I mean, until he wants to and is ready to come back, for sure. That door's always open.
How did you decide that Nate leaving the team would also mean losing his powers?
It was sort of still up in the air until nearly the end because all season we've been sort of playing with the notion of whether he would move into the totem, whether Zari would move out and live in the weirdo pocket dimension with him, and how they could do this long distance thing. And we've sort of played [with] the long shadow of his father, the great man. Nate has that little scene with Zari in the penultimate episode just talking about his legacy and how he originally thought he was supposed to live up to some Heywood model of virility and courage. And which ends in death in his dad's case and his grandfather's case, and I'm sure every other Heywood man died on a battlefield or an outer space or in some heroic way. I guess we just like the idea that you don't have to sacrifice, you don't have to die, [and] that you can leave it all in the field in a way that's not tragic. We wanted him to have some kind of sense of fulfillment that didn't mean that he was dead, and that you can be a man and a former superhero and you could live a domestic life and that can be heroic too.
When did you decide you want to end the season with Sara's alien-powered pregnancy?
We liked it for a lot of reasons because I think we were ready to unburden Sara of her alien powers and that was a convenient way to come up with it. And it's an apt metaphor of giving your life force to your child, which regular humans do as well.
But I think if you remember the season started with Ava's epic meltdown when she sort of lays in the gravel and does a dirt angel on the ground when they kill J Edgar Hoover. Jes was delivering something that we had never seen before. I think Caity really wanted her version of that scene, and we as writers wanted to give it a bookend because Ava lost her stuff and Sara was there to prop her up and it's only right. Relationships, it's constantly one person is pulling the other up. To just see Sara Lance's version of an existential freak out… And I cannot believe Caity really surprised me. I couldn't be more impressed with her capabilities, but she did something in that scene that I've never seen her do before, and it's just so gratifying that for us.
And I think the way that it was written, Keto did a masterful job of that scene, but also Caity brought something to it elevated it from like the normal soap operatic version of [when] somebody's unexpectedly pregnant. There's comedy to it, but there's realness to it. It makes me very excited for next season. When Caity read that script and I saw that she called, I had this moment of being like, "Oh no, I know she's got some trepidation about being pregnant [and] wondering, 'what does that mean for me as an intrepid badass superhero space captain?'" Once we assured her that we weren't looking to do a familiar story I think that she really, she gave it everything.
At this point, what can you say about this band of time cops who have arrested the Legends and what's in store for them in a potential eighth season?
I can't say too much about them just because I haven't pitched the studio and network. By the way the calendar worked, we didn't have our normal amount of time to sit around and pitch on the season to come just because we wrapped before the holidays.
I guess we do have a world that we'd like to explore, that I mean, the goal is always to find fresh snow and this season we made the Legends world just very, very small. Smaller than it's ever been, by stranding them for the first half of the season and making their adventures and misadventures like less about giant global superhero stakes and more about just kind of people helping people. There are great figures of history, but it is the millions of maybe unremembered people who actually are the fabric and thinking about history in terms of the "great men" is a mistake. And so yeah, God. This sounds like I'm just total bulls---ing to not answer your question, but yeah, we really want to continue to force us, and I guess invite our viewers, to think of history in a different way, in a more personal way.
And so if I think about the themes of next season, I mean, the Legends have been arrested and they're going to be forced to rehabilitate themselves, but I think we all know that they make mistakes, but they're doing nothing wrong. In 20 years, most of our jobs will be challenged by AI and so [season 7] was us trying to come up with a reason for, what do humans do that machines can't? I don't know, maybe next season we'll take on capitalism.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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