When Arrow first came on television in 2012, it had virtually no competition when it came to other live-action superhero TV shows. Fast-forward seven years, four official spinoffs (plus the non-Arrowverse Black Lightning), and a television landscape so full of superheroes that there are multiple takes on the anti-superhero show. This fall Arrow Arrow heads into the home stretch, wrapping up eight seasons with a ten-episode victory lap. Den of geek caught up with David Ramsey at the TCA’s to discuss Arrow season 8, reflect on the impact the show has hadm and how it feels to have been a part of the CW DC renaissance.
DEN OF GEEK: As someone who’s been around from the beginning, what’s it like to be here at the end?
DAVID RAMSEY: It’s cool, man. It’s good to be here at the end. It’s kind of surreal. Some of this experience is kind of like you’re sitting out of your body watching it a little bit. And then the other parts you are trying to make sure you grasp it, because you know it won’t happen again, right? What are people wearing? What are you wearing? What’s the attitude? What’s the energy? Because you’re trying to remember, because, you know, this doesn’t happen. This never happens. Ever. Eight seasons with how many spin-offs? It just doesn’t happen. So you just try to soak it all up.
This thing kind of broke the mold. This set up TV universe of superheroes.
That no one could have possibly predicted. It could have been a one-off like Smallville. In that sense. Though Smallville was very successful, it could have been a successful show, and that was it. Spawning all these spinoffs, and spinoffs have crossovers, and it’s unreal.
Something I’ve always wondered about people who get to play superheroes, or anything superhero-adjacent, is what’s that experience like? Because it just be wild when you go to like your character’s Wikipedia page, and you’re just a part of that page forever now. What’s it like to be a part of the superhero legacy that’s so old?
Well I’m a nerd. So I geek out, man. I geek out. I’m part of the comic. John Diggle is part of the comic book universe now, part of the DC universe in the comics. Like you said, going to Wiki, and you see bona fide superheroes. Talking to people in the cons, watching them, seeing cosplaying as Spartan… It’s unreal.
There’s a side of it, too, where you really are taking people’s lives, and people are saying they’ve gotten closer to their family because they watch the show, whatever the case may be. It’s just unreal. I’m in awe and totally grateful.
What’s it like working on this season without Emily (Bett Rickards) and Felicity (Smoak)?
It’s tough. Same story I’ve been telling everybody. We were there on the first day of 801, in the foundry, me and Stephen, where Emily normally is. Near Felicity’s workspace. She wasn’t there. And it was a noticeable energy gone. Just noticeable. You felt it. You don’t really replace energy like that, you move past it. Now, granted, our rushing up to episode eight of the crossover does that successfully in the sense that we’re making great television even without that presence being there, but we still miss her very much.
It does seem like it’s going to be a fairly atypical final season for a TV show, just because of that crossover event. What’s it like to balance this enormous crossover with it being the last go around for everybody?
Well, it won’t be the last go around for anyone else, I would imagine, their crossover will continue, even without Arrow. But, for us, it’s bittersweet in that it’s sad but also awesome because, I kind of know how it’s going to end. Not kind of. I do know how it’s going to end. So it’s like, “They’re never going to get this! They’re never going to see this coming! Oh my god! That’s a red herring!” So all that stuff is real exciting as a fan. So we’re reading that in the script. When I get the script, it’s like, “Smart! Clever! Oh, they thought that. No, this.” So I kind of geek out about it.
That’s kind of cool, because even though you guys are ending, you almost could just see the real, tangible evidence that the spirit of this never going to end, and it’s still going on with the crossovers and spinoffs.
That’s right. And you get to see how it gets played out, right? As opposed to you just work, and all of a sudden you get the call of, “Oh, you won’t be here for next year,” in the middle of episode nine. But we knew last year, so it was like, “Great, we get to go out the way we want to go out.”
What’s been one of your favorite moments of this whole experience? When you think of your time on Arrow, what’s the thing that most readily comes to your mind?
Really, a few things. Three big things. The fans. My coworkers. And the executives.
A lot of people don’t say that about executives. But CW and Warner Bros., Peter, Mark, and Greg. This is not all plugging them, dude. I’ve known Peter since ’93. He’s passed me a lot of stuff. Greg, I just met on this experience, and he saw me on Blue Bloods, and that’s how I got the role. Mark, I met through this experience.
And I wasn’t always second on the call sheet. I started this taking a pay cut at number five. That’s the truth. And it was always, from day one, “Whatever you want, call me. Whatever you need, talk to me.” And there are a lot of people in this business where that type of rapport is only in lip service. It doesn’t really exist, practically. And it did. Still does. And I’m talking about particularly with Greg, Peter, and Mark. And Beth. Beth didn’t start off as a showrunner, that’s why I didn’t include her initially. But it’s become that with Beth, and that just doesn’t really exist to the extent that it exists with a lot of executives in this business.
And then after that it would be the cast. Cast has been terrific. We had lightning in a bottle, man. Me, Stephen, and Emily, it just doesn’t happen a lot.
And then, finally, the fans. Fan base has been crazy. And the success of Arrow is in no small part because of them.
So those are the three elements of come to my mind when I think about why Arrow was successful and what I’ll miss about it.
Excellent. That’s one of my favorite things about TV. You mentioned you climbing up the call sheet, just that improvisation, and I mean improvisation of just how for these series that go on for so long, you have those little surprises, where it’s like, “Oh, well this guy’s going to be a huge part of the show.”
That’s right. And you just don’t know it. I mean, talk about Emily. Emily came on a guest star for one episode. And it’s just lightning. Boom! Hits again. It’s just been one of those things that, time after time, after time, after time, there’s lightning in a bottle.
There’s a tremendous amount of logistics, politics, that go into any show, any show. So it’s just great to be a part of it, brother. It has a time limit. So it’d be nice to look back on this and be like, “Wow, I was part of it.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Arrow returns for its eighth and final season on Tuesday, October 15 at 9/8c on The CW.
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