The CW’s Arrow was a surprise hit with comic-book fans and uninitiated viewers last season, and is going into a second run with a new kind of confidence. Star of the show and the man donning the green hood, Stephen Amell, has admirably carried the series on his buff shoulders thus far, and knows better than anyone what an uphill struggle the show had to overcome to get to this point. With success comes speculation, however, and we recently spoke to the actor about fan reactions, Oliver’s love life, incoming characters and what we can expect from season two.
Congratulations on the first season of Arrow – it seems to have done so well with so many audiences, including comic-book fans. How are you dealing with the fandom side of things?
It’s spectacular – we are really blessed to have so many people that care so much about the character, the mythology and the universe that we’re creating because, you know, they’re the life-blood of our fanbase. Initially they were mad that it wasn’t Justin Hartley playing the part, though that’s just the nature of things. I’m sure there were people who didn’t like Justin Hartley in the role, but as soon as it goes to someone else it’s like ‘Egh! Who’s this person?’ For us to have that fundamental 180-degree shift has been really something. Beyond that, I have a soft spot for meeting youngsters – I’ll take pictures with kids who come to set with the bow and arrow. Just the look on their faces when they see me in costume is really something.
Now that Tommy’s out the picture, where does Laurel and Oliver’s relationship stand?
I think it’s going to be very difficult for them to get over that. To say nothing of the very poignant realisation of how much he cared about her, Tommy was able to say something to Laurel in an honest and forthright manner that Oliver has never been able to… in the way that Oliver never has. I feel as though almost everything, almost every admission, even if it was from the bottom of his heart, may fall flat for her. There may be a tremendous amount of guilt from Oliver because he says, “this should have been me.” I’m not saying that their relationship is going to be impossible to continue, but this is certainly another bump in the road for them.
Can you confirm or deny any possible return for either Tommy or Malcolm Merlyn in the future?
Time has proven that it’s very difficult to kill John Barrowman. I don’t know if he’ll be back, I don’t know if that character is gone forever, but Tommy’s dead. People are sad but we really wanted to honour that character and I for one really do think that would be taking a little bit too much from our audience – if we were to try to put them through what we put them through with that final scene, and then turn around and say ‘nope, just kidding’, that would be difficult to forgive.
Taking everything into account, will Oliver still be on vigilante duties when he comes back?
We’ve been pretty faithful on the show to the amount of time that’s passing in the real world, so we’re going to pick up the second season several months after the events of the finale – somewhere in the area of four months. When you think about it, his father’s list was a thing but it was just one of things connected to The Undertaking. The Undertaking is over – he didn’t stop it but, it’s over, it happened. So the reason that he was the vigilante is kind of redundant at the moment. If he’s going to suit up again it’s going to have to be for different reasons.
Does that mean we’ll be dealing more with Diggle and Deadshot?
That is one of the threads we left hanging, and I think it’s the most major one. There will be resolution to that – we didn’t forget about it. But speaking to a larger point I do think that in the second season it’s important for some of the characters that have done such a wonderful job… the actors in these parts have done a really terrific job in developing these characters to the point where, if we wanted to have a Detective Lance-centric episode, I think our fanbase would be really excited for something like that. Diggle, Felicity, Laurel, Thea, Moira – we have such a talented ensemble cast and I’m really, selfishly, looking forward to them really taking the reins a little bit in the second season.
Everyone’s excited about Roy coming in – there’s obviously the double act that was forming between him and Thea, can you shed any light on the Speedy/Red Arrow issue?
…But you’re not telling me?
No. I will tell you this: Oliver had to go through five years of, as he puts it, hell to come out the other side not even a finished version of himself. The reason why we don’t call my character Green Arrow is because he’s not the Green Arrow yet – he’s The Hood. Roy and Thea have both shown that they are pretty capable people but, if one of them is going to become Speedy or Red Arrow or both or neither, they’re going to have to go through something, and I think the plan at the moment is to test them out this year in terms of – ‘Okay guys, here’s your crucible. Here’s your thing that you have to go through. Now, how are you going to come out on the other side?’ We’re going to test those characters this year.
You mentioned your character not being Green Arrow yet, do you foresee the show ever taking up the mantel and becoming more comic book-esque?
Well, I don’t think I’m ever going to say, ‘To the Arrow Cave!’ or anything like that – I don’t think we’ll ever get that campy. Though I think we did a better job as the season went along of poking fun at ourselves a little bit – you can’t take yourself too seriously. But that being said, I would love for there to be a moment somewhere down the line where I either call myself Green Arrow, or somebody else calls me Green Arrow, and I respond to it. It’d be nice to galvanise people with a name that was a little bit more inclusive than The Hood or the vigilante.
The Oliver/Felicity is very popular online and in the fandom, I guess unexpectedly so for you guys…
All credit in that instance goes to Emily who, the second that she showed up on set for a one day guest star role – and I wasn’t paying much… not that I wasn’t paying much attention but this was early on a Friday, we were starting at 4 o’clock and we had to shoot this one scene before we then shifted upstairs to shoot a massive Arrow/Deadshot fight. So we had to shoot these one or two Felicity scenes and I’d met Emily and we got to chatting while we were setting up, then we get to our first take and she legitimately made me laugh. That wasn’t a false front when I see the way that she speaks – that was legitimate. She brings out something in my character that, though we didn’t know it at the time, was sorely missing. And I love working with her, I hope that dynamic continues, and there are elements of Oliver, not The Hood, but Oliver Queen that we haven’t seen yet in the present day that she’s going to be helpful with in the second season.
Do you see it as a romantic or platonic thing between them?
I see it as a dynamic thing, and if you really think about it, as cuddly as Diggle is, she’s the woman at the moment who knows me better than anybody. There is something very attractive about that.
In terms of the island flashbacks, what can we expect from season two?
Going into the season we knew that he had spent five years on the island, but it wasn’t until episode five and the introduction of Edward Fyers and faux Deadshot that we really saw what the island could be. Now we have a really good idea of it, and I know that going into this season there’s a very specific plan for the island because it’s finite. We know we have five years to tell the story and it’s probably even more fleshed out than the present day story, so we get to see the continued dynamic between Slade, Shado and Oliver hopefully becoming more of a partnership. Because at the end of the day, they were the badasses and they were the fighters but she got taken captive by Fyers and Slade was hobbled – it was me who a) diverted the missile and b) shot Fyers in the neck with an arrow. Hopefully I become more of their equal, and I also think that it’d be interesting to see Oliver’s island world and his present day world clash this year.
Will we see characters from the island appear in present day?
That’d be awesome. That’d be really cool and, you know, it could happen at any point. It could happen in the first episode – you never know.
Were the two teams of three built intentionally to mirror each other?
I think it’s a happy accident, actually, because, while you’d like to think that all these things are planned, and I do think the writers do a wonderful job of planning, but you never know what you have in the first season of a show. I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that Felicity was not supposed to be anything more than an IT girl – my mole at Queen Consolidated – and she took that opportunity and she ran with it, she made it hers and she made herself irreplaceable. I can’t imagine the show without Felicity. I don’t know how long Manu or Selena were supposed to be around, but everybody loves them so here they are. And here we are with the dynamic of two guys and a girl in the present day working as a team and the two guys and a girl on the island working as a team.
Is there still a five-year plan?
Yeah but, again, that’s not to say that the end of season five will be the critical moment on the island. It wouldn’t necessarily mean that, if we get to the end of season five and have used up all of our time on the island, that the series can’t continue. But we do need to follow that flashback all of the way through.
Are there any particular DC characters that you’d like to see on the show?
I’d love to see The Flash [Since this interview took place, Glee‘s Grant Gustin has been cast in the role – Ed]. I really enjoyed when Alex Kingston said she was heading to Central City, “I’ll be there in a flash.” That was something. We keep referencing Blood Haven and we know that Nightwing is there – that’d be pretty cool. Let’s deal with what we have for a moment – I’d love to see Speedy. I’d love to see Black Canary. And most importantly I’d like to see Deathstroke – the real Deathstroke with the mask on. That’d be pretty cool.
Are there any plans for Laurel or any other character becoming Black Canary?
I think that there’s a plan for Black Canary, I don’t know how it’s all going to come together but, it might be time for a Canary Cry or two.
Stephen Amell, thank you very much!
Arrow Season 1 is out on BLU-RAY™ and DVD from September the 23rd
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