MIGHTY Q&A: Stephen Amell of “Arrow” Talks Roy, Ra’s and Ollie’s Women

I’m a late adopter on “Arrow,” the CW’s adaptation of the Green Arrow story. I watched the first couple episodes of Season 1 and was left pretty lukewarm, so I let it go. But as the season wore on, I kept hearing about how good the show was getting. And that drumbeat just kept getting louder and louder.

Fans were especially pleased with how immersed the show was in DC Universe culture. Its predecessor, “Smallville,” about Superman’s (too-long) coming of age, was always at its best when it embraced its source. So late last month, we began binge-watching the show here at 13th Dimension HQ and we’re already all caught up.

I’ll tell you now: Believe the hype, because the first half of this season alone has had at least a half dozen F-Yeah moments. It’s an excellent show and its star, Stephen Amell, has become increasingly comfortable in the role of Oliver Queen.

From tomorrow night's "Tremors." Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW

From tomorrow night’s “Tremors.” Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW

These are just some the familiar characters we’ve already met: Roy Harper, Black Canary, Barry Allen, Merlyn, the League of Assassins, Brother Blood, Solomon Grundy, Deadshot, the Huntress, China White, Shado, Bronze Tiger, Count Vertigo, Amanda Waller. Oh, and Deathstroke.

Plus, there’s this name that keeps popping up: Ra’s al Ghul. (A lot of fans are even speculating that Oliver’s corporate rival, played by Summer Glau, is his daughter Talia.)

This is a show that practically bathes in its DCness and I can’t get enough of it. The show has two more episodes before it goes on a mini-hiatus (the Olympics are coming, you know) and judging by the synopses I’ve read, a lot is going to happen, including Ollie’s long-awaited training of Roy.

Last night, I spoke to Stephen Amell by phone from Los Angeles before he headed back to set in Vancouver. We covered a lot of ground in a short period of time:

Slade (Manu Bennett) and Oliver in an Island flashback, with Sara (Caity Lotz). Cate Cameron/The CW

Slade (Manu Bennett) and Oliver in an Island flashback, with Sara (Caity Lotz). Cate Cameron/The CW

Dan Greenfield: I know there are going to be a couple of episodes, then you’re going on hiatus. So how in broad strokes would you describe what we’re going to see on the next two shows?

Stephen Amell: We’re really solidifying our (connection to the) DC Universe. … We have Deathstroke, we have me training Roy and his possible introduction. And we are getting to the point of a real culmination in Katie Cassidy’s storyline and that downward spiral her character (Laurel Lance) is on at the moment. It’s definitely still the midseason but we are starting to see the hints of what our end game is.

You talked about the DC Universe … I noticed in … the second episode to come, there’s a character in there who seems like she might be directly connected to Ra’s al Ghul.


What can you tell us about that? Without spoilers.

Basically we have a visitor — we have another visitor — from Nanda Parbat and she is none too pleased with Sara’s defection away from the League (of Assassins) … and definitely has a connection to Ra’s al Ghul. (Note: In the world of “Arrow,” Sara Lance is Canary.)

The Arrow, ready for action. Cate Cameron/The CW

The Arrow, ready for action. Cate Cameron/The CW

I know you’ve said in the past that you were interested in seeing Batman on the show, or at least that’s how you were quoted. What other characters would you like to see come up either later this season or a following season of “Arrow”? What would you think would be realistic, let’s ask it that way.

Yeah, people always ask me, ‘What’s your ultimate dream character?’ and obviously Batman because of the parallels with our two characters. But on a more realistic note, and a more immediate note, we’ve now said Ra’s al Ghul’s name on the show, oh, I don’t know, 10, 15 times and y’know we don’t want to keep namedropping somebody and then not have that person show up.

I really hope that we’ll get to use that character in some capacity. That would be my ultimate now. I’m sure that will change as time goes on.

Now, a couple questions about you and some of the other characters on the show. You have a really great chemistry with the other members of Team Arrow: David Ramsey (as back-up muscle and confidant Diggle) and Emily Bett Rickards (as computer-whiz Felicity). Are you friendly outside the show or is it just strictly on set. What’s that relationship like — because you really do have a very natural chemistry with those two actors.

Yeah, Emily’s been great. I’ve been with Emily since her first day on set. And David’s great. David was at my house yesterday for a party and we’ve become very good buddies off screen.

Stephen Amell posted this on Facebook on Sunday: That's his mom flanked by him and David Ramsey.

Stephen Amell posted this on Facebook on Sunday: That’s his mom flanked by him and David Ramsey.

Y’know we have these days, foundry days, days in the Arrowcave — we’re usually banging out eight or nine pages of dialogue and a lot of those will be quick-talking … Emily’s always got a mouthful to say and we have a lot of fun goofing around and just making those days not get stale because you do them a lot. There’s just an easiness. If I could put my finger on what makes good chemistry, I’d be probably a very high-powered studio executive. I don’t know. I think a lot of it is luck of the draw. … We’re just lucky, I guess.

Now, if you got to choose who Oliver would end up with, whether it would be Felicity or Laurel or Sara, who would you pick?

(Short pause) I mean there’s just no good way for me to answer that question because (Dan laughs) I’m gonna piss off a huge percentage of the fan base even by neglecting to answer. Which is what I’m going to do.

(Dan laughs again)

I would like Oliver to be happy. And I would like Oliver to be in a relationship where he can be himself because, as fun as it was for me to play the brooding, angry, vengeance-driven version of Oliver … a more contented version, a happier version, that gives you more places to go.

So I’d just like him to find someone that he can be happy with. Or be happy by himself.

I don’t think that’s going to be the option.

No, that’s obviously not going to happen (Dan laughs) … They’re not gonna have him without a love interest. … It is television. But I just want him to be happy.

For the record, I'm on Team Felicity.

For the record, I’m on Team Felicity.

Now, your relationship with Colton Haynes as Roy Harper — what are the chances we’re going to get to see him in a full, red outfit by the end of the season?

Oh, boy. I don’t know. You mean not a red hoodie, like a full, red outfit? Hunh. Don’t know! That’s not for me to say. I know that’s the natural path. I hope it happens but I don’t know if it’s going to happen. I’d say like give it like a (pause) 25 percent chance.

Arrow and ... Speedy? Arsenal? Cate Cameron/The CW

Arrow and … Speedy? Arsenal? Cate Cameron/The CW

On that point, you’re a season and a half in, how much say do you have as far as weighing in on Oliver’s direction or the direction of the Arrow? Where does it stand for you at this stage of the show?

Y’know, I’m not in the writer’s room. I don’t have a say in future storylines. I do know that I sit down with Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg and they pitch me stuff. … They certainly aren’t asking for my permission. But we have a really nice system where I usually get a chance to read a slightly earlier draft of the script than what’s the shooting draft. And I get a nice dialogue going with the producers. I’m really happy and proud to say that they almost always take my input and put it into the show.

I’m tweaking things at a very superficial level but it’s important because there are little things that I notice because I live in this character every day. It’s become a really nice collaboration, but they are most definitely still my bosses and I do what I’m told.

It’s the natural question when you’re doing a comic-book show: “How aware are you of what’s going on in the comic books” or whatever: Are you at all aware of what’s going on with the character in the comics or how that’s playing off the show, or is just totally in a separate bubble?

It’s a completely separate bubble. I live in the bubble of our show and I actually don’t like any outside influences.

Despite the similarities, this is not Stephen Amell.

Despite the similarities, this is not Stephen Amell.

Got it. For fans who are a little bit behind, or who are just starting on the show now, what would you tell them to get them interested and get them to take the plunge at this point?

I tell them they don’t have to be a comic book fan to like the show. I tell them to read some of the articles that have been written about our second season and the type of transformation that we’re making. And I tell them literally to watch the first two acts of the pilot. And by the time I break the guy’s neck at the end of the second act, if they’re not in, then (pause) God bless them.

“Arrow” is on the CW on Wednesdays at 8 (7 p.m. Central)

Got a comment? Shoot one below!

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Awesome interview. Thanks for doing it!

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  2. Arrow is a fantastic show. I tell everybody I know about it and I’m often surprised by how resistant people are to it just because it’s either a “super hero show” (which I don’t get, hello, look at the popularity of them!) or that it’s the CW, which strikes me as ridiculous. So the CW was smart enough to recognize the genius of the show and snatch it up before anybody else. Good TV is Good tv!

    I love the Oliver/Felicity/Diggle Team Arrow aspect of Arrow. I was thrilled when they folded Quentin Lance in via Felicity Smoak. That’s a great dynamic too. So much to look forward to this year and to answer the Who Should Oliver End Up With question…. Felicity Smoak all the way! Oliver is a great character, don’t get me wrong, but you see more sides to him with Felicity, and while he’ll always have a dark, tortured soul, when he’s with Felicity you see a light in him that you don’t see with anyone else. You see a potential future that has some hope. A future with a woman who — when you picture his home with her 20 years from now — actually has some laughter and fun and lots of love in it. Who doesn’t want Oliver to have that? He deserves it and so does Felicity.

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    • Thank you for doing this interview. Let me just say, this show is all around great but the dynamic of Olicity and team Arrow is what keeps me intreagued and longing for more. I love how action packed it is and I love the refrences to the different characters in the DC universe, but in addion to that this show has various dimensions so there’s never a dull moment; the relationship with Oliver and Felicity always strikes an emotional cord in me… it’s like they’re two pieces of a puzzle that fits so perfectly. The writers and producers of this show have certainly struck gold with the chemistry between these two phenomenal actors. I also love the relationship between Oliver and Dig, he’s the big brother he never had and has really proved to be a trusted and loyal friend who isn’t afraid to tell Oliver when he’s wrong. Ultimately, this show has all the components that make great tv and I hope it’s on for many seasons to come.

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  3. My pick is also Felicity, they have the best chemistry i have seen in a long time.

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  4. Team Laurel! Oliver has loved Laurel for half his life and when she becomes Black Canary she and he will be able to connect on a whole new level!

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    • Laurel was his first love, but life goes on. They have both changed and are so troubled and damaged that it’s just hard to watch them together… + the actors have zero chemistry together. Another thing is just a deal-breaker for me. And that is Sara. Could you ever forgive your boyfriend for sleeping with your sister? Plus there’s Tommy…

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    • I am Team Laurel all the way too, Ollicity is just fanpandering, nothing will come of it.

      But Oliver and Laurel are it, they will turn into the Green Arrow and Black Canary and they will kick major butt.

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      • we already have black canary and she’s kicking everyone butt, including her less superior sister

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      • Actually, Green Arrow and Black Canary divorced and separated in comics for good and that was the end.

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  5. Brilliant interview – thanks for asking some great questions. Stephen always comes across as so smart, invested and well informed about his show – it’s really impressive, and gives the audience such a rich experience, I’m always impressed and grateful for his attitude and enthusiasm.

    I’m so sad we’re in for another short hiatus, I look forward to Arrow all week!

    Obvs Team Felicity all the way – don’t know how you couldn’t be at this point 🙂 Hoping we get some more amazing Olicity moments as the season goes on – not going to lie, it’s one of the absolute KEY reasons I love and watch the show so fastidiously. They’re epic. Booth and Brennan epic. And that’s the highest compliment I know to give 🙂

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  6. Team Felicity!

    I loved the pilot but stopped watching after awhile because it was too dark and angsty for me. Enter Felicity on a regular basis with the chemistry she has with Oliver and I settled back in for the long haul. I’ve also gotten other people hooked on the show by showing them Olicity clips on Youtube to prove Oliver can be fun, and Arrow is witty, funny, and smart.

    As for all the fan pandering, fans keep shows on the air. Don’t all shows pander to the fans to some degree? I don’t understand all the outrage over this. Without fans who tune in, what’s the point of creating these stories and developing these relationships? The reason it’s such a big deal with Arrow is because it goes against the canon, and it’s been compared to Clark ending up with Chloe Sullivan instead of Lois Lane. The difference is, I had no idea who Black Canary or Laurel Lance once before Arrow, whereas everyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows who Clark Kent ends up with. I am all for Arrow creating their own universe.

    Bestselling author Jennifer Crusie said it best:


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    • Team Felicity of course.
      Can you imagine another women that is perfect for him?….I don’t

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  7. team felicity as oliver’s partner and lover, team sara as black canary and team laurel as … just be happy, seriously just found something that make you happy

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  8. Laurel will always be the one for Oliver! He loved her before the island and still loves her after. She loves him despite all he has done (you can’t turn off love) and recognizes that he is a different person, even if she doesn’t know how different yet. Once she transforms into BC like the one from the comic books, she will be changed forever too and their relationship can start off on new ground as they become superheroes. Team Lauriver!!!!!!!

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  9. Not quite sure why the consensus is that when Laurel becomes BC, she and Oliver can connect on a whole new level. I believe Oliver and Felicity have already been connecting on that “level” for, I don’t know, awhile now!

    The very reason I don’t enjoy Laurel and Oliver is because they are all doom and gloom, full of angst and toxicity. In contrast, I feel like Oliver and Felicity’s scenes are much lighter. Oliver genuinely smiles and laughs when he’s around Felicity. I love the action and story lines of Arrow, but half the reason I watch is Team Arrow.

    Team Olicity! Hands down.

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  10. Team Felicity all the way. She just brings sunlight to a show that can get a little dark sometimes. She balances the show and she balances Oliver.

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  11. You know, too me, it’s NOT BC that’s the problem..I totally dig Sara as BC..SHE IS BC!! SHE is magnificent as BC and there’ just NO-WAY someone so selfish, manipulative and snotty, bitch, and self-righteous, whom thinks she BETTER then everyone else, can be BC when SHE WON’T have a BACK-GROUND to BACK UP HOW she BECAME BC! SARA has it ALL!! She is BC!! laurelel is UNNECESSARY…

    TOO those that KEEP mentioning ‘laruel’ as his ONE TRUE LOVE in the comics..FOR GODS SAKE! They married, they divorced and NOW in the NEW, NEW comics, the TWO DON’T EVEN KNOW EACH!! GET OVER yourself!

    Even Superman has a NEW LOVE INTEREST and it sure isn’t that annoying LL!!

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    • Old or new green arrow and black canary love has a history. They are a power couple and truely belong together. Not like the made up story of olicity which does not exist. Please if they liked each other then they would of been together a long time ago but obviously not gonna happen. He cares for her but as a sister/friend zone! Anyway thats why they gave her Barry Allen for a love interest. Get the facts people. He belongs with canary whether its sara or laurel as long as its canary. Btw great show. Hope they add more true DC characters.

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  12. I like Sara. It seems he really loves her.He risked a lot for her. He even chose her over his friend and I mean if he loved laurel then he wouldn’t of cheated on her with her sister. I also like Felicity with Barry they are too cute. Oliver doesn’t deserve her anyway shes too nice and he loves their friendship too much to spoil it. Also I want to see John Diggle as Green Lantern would be cool. Maybe see Nightwing if not Batman himself. Very exited!

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