Arrow premieres in just six days on The CW – have you posted in our countdown forum thread yet? – and as we get closer, it’s time to share another one of our Arrow interviews from our Vancouver set visit.
We’ve saved the series lead to be one of the last to post – that would be Stephen Amell, the man who trained extensively for the role of Oliver Queen, to give us a [green] “Arrow” who is in peak physical shape. Amell, a veteran of such shows as Hung, The Vampire Diaries, and Private Practice, is still not an extremely well known name, and had even been able to wander this year’s Comic-Con undetected. That will all change after October 10. (Our interview with the show’s other series lead, Katie Cassidy, is up next)
While previous versions of the Green Arrow story in the comics have overlooked Oliver’s family, they are a major factor in Arrow, which provides a tie between the Oliver Queen of now and his past life before he was on an island for five years.
“The biggest problem for Oliver so far hasn’t been any bad guys necessarily; it’s been his relationship with Thea and Moira, and Laurel to a lesser extent, but specifically his immediate family,” Stephen says, adding that we’ll see trouble with his sister off the bat and there will be more discussion immediately after the pilot. The problem will continue through at least the eighth episode, and by that point, Amell says “something is going to have to change,” whether it’s bringing them closer or giving up what he is doing as the Arrow. “The way things are going right now, it’s deteriorating the relationships in his family,” he says.
Stephen says he’s “not supposed to say” which aspect of Oliver Queen he enjoys playing better. “It’s everyone’s dream to put on a suit, whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy, but I love the interpersonal stuff so much because there’s always so much underneath what’s happening. There’s so many lines that can be played with two meanings, and aside from working on Hung, this is my first experience – and that was, by definition, more peripheral than this is – that was my first experience where, like I have a scene with Paul Blackthorne in episode 7 and I have a line to him where I go ‘ok, I can say it to him this way because of something that happened to him in episode 2. Then we had this experience in 4, then we had this experience in 6 and because of all of that, that completely colors the scene for me.’ So having all this information at my disposal makes these interpersonal scenes so rich and that’s really exciting,” he says. Oliver’s actions might not always be as dark as one would expect from the trailers, either. “I’ve seen the word ‘brooding’ a lot and I’ve sort of seen ‘no smiles’ and this, that and the other thing. There’s a light moment right off the top of episode 2 and there’s some humor along the way. I was trying to put humor in wherever I could,” Stephen says.
“I saw Greg Berlanti at the Paley Festival and he said to me ‘hey, anytime you’re funny, it always stays in the episode.’ Any time that there’s any sort of levity brought into these scenes because we’re dealing with serious subject matter, he goes ‘we always keep that. Keep doing that.’ There was a scene between David Ramsey and I in episode 5 that could have been heavy. At no point in the script in the subtext or in the stage direction was it written ‘this scene plays light and easy,’ but it [worked],” Stephen says.
It sounds as though Oliver Queen’s secret might also lead to some fun scenes. “There’s a scene I’m really proud of in episode 2 where he tries to throw them off the scent a little bit and I don’t think it works as well as he wants it to,” Stephen admits.
Fans are already becoming excited by two guest actors who will be coming in a few weeks after the pilot. Jessica de Gouw plays Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, and Stephen says they have “great chemistry.”
“Jessica is an Aussie, I have never met an Australian person that I didn’t get along with really well immediately,” Stephen says. “She’s really wonderful and the chemistry so far has been great because we get on in real life. I do keep joking on Twitter, ‘just wrapped episode 7, my favorite since episode 6’ but I have really, really loved this episode. The dynamic that she brings into the show, specifically the way that we open the show, there’s a sequence that opens it and the fight that closes it and so much discovery in the middle of it, it really builds up,” he says, pointing out the interesting fact that Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg describes “Muse Of Fire,” the episode that wrapped when we were on set, as part one of a two parter.
The other guest star, that we all had to ask everyone about, is Torchwood’s John Barrowman, who plays a “well dressed man.” Could we get any intel out of Stephen? “He’s well-dressed,” Stephen says. “He’s a very well-spoken, well-respected businessman in Starling City.”
“I know I tweeted a couple of weeks ago that I was reading a script that was episode 7 and I read a scene and I audibly gasped and I went ‘[gasp] that’s really cool!’. It’s from the beginning of episode 7, and it’s a scene with John. He’s a really fun guy to work with. He obviously is very comfortable and he made the crew and even me, when it was my coverage, crack up during a rehearsal and it took a while to get it back for the actual takes,” Stephen reveals.
So what should people expect from Arrow when it premieres on The CW October 10? Stephen says you might be surprised. “If you come into the series with a certain expectation based on what you expect from this network, just in terms of tone and just in terms of subject matter and the way that we deal with it, I think you’ll be very surprised. Not to say that it’s better or that it’s worse. But we’re, I think, using interesting tactics and I think that whether you’re a television viewer that’s interested in interpersonal relationships or really kick-ass action, you’re gonna get what you’re looking for. The places that we’re trying to take this and the locations that we’re using and the unflinching nature of the storytelling technique is gonna surprise people,” he says.
DISCLAIMER: Travel and hotel arrangements for our Vancouver set visit were provided by Warner Bros. Television.