STEPHEN AMELL Arrow in the hood

Stephen Amell has played Oliver Queen, or as he’s better known in comics, The Green Arrow, for seven seasons now. As Arrow heads into its final season, DAVID O’CONNELL spoke to him ahead of his appearance at Perth Supanova (June 28-30), about the show that brought DC comics to life on the small screen.

What’s it like playing a character that has spawned a TV universe (the half dozen interconnected shows and web series that create The Arrowverse)?

It’s really difficult to think about it that way. I’m so close to the thing and have to put a little context into what a lot of people have been able to accomplish. I know the template for a show gave Greg (Berlanti), Marc (Guggenheim), Andrew (Kreisberg), and all the people at Berlanti Productions, WB and The CW, confidence to produce more TV shows, but I never could have anticipated it would be something like this. I think what they’ve been able to do is really, really special.

So you never thought it would be this big?

No, no, no. I mean how could you? That being said, between season one and season two, Greg, Marc and Andrew sat me down and said, “we’re going to introduce Barry Allen (The Flash) in the second season, and our hope is to make something similar to the Justice League on television”. It was them with the vision, I just did my job, and try to (whenever possible) be as welcoming, and as accommodating, as I could be to these new shows. I’m a big believer in the sentiment “a rising tide lifts all ships”. It makes things better for us all.

Ollie has been through a few changes over the years (not including alternative universes). Is there one aspect of the character of Oliver Queen that you’ve enjoyed playing the most?

I think I’ve enjoyed the maturation. Not so much in terms of years, but in terms of changes in him emotionally. I feel like a bit more of my character has come into him over the years. The transition from him not really playing well with others in the beginning (to say the least), to him being a conscientious thoughtful person. That’s the nicest transition for me personally.

How are you feeling heading into that final season of Arrow?

I feel good. I got the full pitch on season 8 about maybe a week ago from Beth Schwartz (season 7 showrunner, writer, co-executive producer, and executive story editor for Arrow). It was everything I hoped for. I feel like in a lot of ways Arrow as people know it ended with our finale this year. Moving into next season things are going to be very different

I imagine your entire job would be physically demanding, with the stunt and fight work. How did you find it?

I love that man, my back hasn’t loved it that much, but I’ve loved it. I’m hoping that we take season eight and do something special from a physicality standpoint. I feel with had a couple of signature moments this season. Especially with that shower fight in the opening episode, which I had to try really hard to get in shape for. I’m hoping we do something like that in the final season.

Did you find yourself picking up any skills along the way (archery for example)?

No, no. I’m incredibly passive, none of my martial arts skills translated to real life.

How’s it compare to professional wrestling (WWE), which you’ve done a bit of in your time?

Arrow is way more demanding. I was able to have a wrestling match and rest for a year to the next. Whereas, if I have a super demanding day filming Arrow, I’ve still got to go back the next day and film Arrow.

With the show being so action orientated, have you had any near misses on set?

There was a scene, in the first episode of season five, where I had to fight a giant dude in Russia. This guy was huge and is an excellent stunt man. We were training for the fight and I was supposed to duck left, and I ducked right. If he wasn’t really aware of what was going on, he would have punched me in the face, and that would have been the end of the series. He was 6’10” and 300 lbs, if he connected, that would have been the end of my acting career.

Were you a comic book fan before this?

Yeah, I actually read a lot of DC growing up. I was a big fan of Superman (right about the Death of Superman in the early 90s), and Lobo, and Spawn. I was really into the Alien vs Predator series and had a very decent collection. Ironically, I don’t think I ever read a single Marvel Comic, which I swear was not by design.

My indoctrination into comic book culture, as with many of my generation, was through the movies. First was Superman (1979) and then Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), and then there was Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I say I’ve never read a Marvel Comic before, but I’ve never missed a Marvel movie, with the exception of Avengers: Endgame, as I’ve been travelling. I loved all of them.

Part of the reason we’re talking today is because of your appearance at Supanova. How do you find the convention circuit?

I really enjoyed it. I like talking with fans. Shooting the show, it’s a slog, it’s a lot of hard work, and the fans really appreciate it. I love hearing those stories of why they appreciate, it’s incredibly gratifying. It also allows me to take the pulse of what people are thinking and why they like the show. I personally think that’s really important.

It’s also different everywhere different on the East Coast of United States, say, to the West Coast. Different in Canada, than it is in the States. Different in the UK, than it is in North America. Different in Australia, than it is in the UK. The Australian fans a very passionate, very thoughtful. And the thing that’s really unique about them, is they’re very thankful that you’ve travelled and come to see them because not everybody does that.

We’re often especially grateful in Perth, as not everyone gets over to this side of Australia.

I’m slightly embarrassed I didn’t realise how big it (Australia) is. When I was hearing how long the flights are from Sydney to Perth, it’s longer than Toronto to Vancouver. And the three hour time difference I have no idea. I’ve been to Sydney, I’ve been to Melbourne, but I haven’t been to Perth, and I’m excited to go.

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