Toe to Toe with Stephen Amell
Unless this is the first time you’ve ever visited our website, it should go without saying that we’re pretty big fans of Arrow. It’s based on one of our comic books and most popular characters, it features plenty of action and boasts a cast of compelling characters that have been allowed to develop and progress as people over the course of one and a half seasons (and from what we hear about future episodes, that’s not going to stop any time soon). So when we got the chance to sit down with Stephen Amell and lob a few questions at him, we didn’t turn it down. After all, how often do you get the chance to go toe-to-toe with a super hero?
This season of Arrow has been phenomenal. There’s just so much going on with Brother Blood and Slade Wilson, Sara Lance returning as Black Canary and now the news that the Huntress is returning. Do you familiarize yourself with these characters before shooting the episodes with them?
No, definitely not. I exist in a bubble when it comes to Oliver and Green Arrow, which may sound bad, but it’s really not. It’s a bubble that I keep myself in deliberately because I don’t want to go into these situations knowing more about these characters than Oliver would. I think that’s very important to the role.
Oliver really feels like a changed man from last season, and that sort of character progression seems so rare in long form television these days. As an actor, how do you feel about Oliver’s development as a character and where do you imagine him going from here?
Well, I can tell you a bit about where Oliver’s going in the episodes ahead. He’s going to get knocked down in the near future. Big time. It’s going to be at the end of the second act and all hope will be lost.
But these progressions are great as an actor. It’s really exciting to advance a character. Oliver’s changing on the island. He’s going down a dark path there. But he’s also hopefully moving into the light in the present day. To be able play a role like that every week—that’s every actor’s dream. We have some scenes coming up—one in episode 14 and also a really lovely scene in episode 12—where we get to see a vulnerability in Oliver that he just wouldn’t have exposed last year or even in the early part of this year. It’s a guy fraying at the ends a little bit because he’s not used to doing the right thing, and that has just been a joy to play onscreen. Just fantastic.
Did you enjoy finally putting on the mask?
Yes, I did. It really gives Oliver the opportunity to interact with people in a much more straightforward manner. I can finally look Detective Lance in the eye and stand face to face with him! We have the opportunity to engage each other now.
Plus, I think it looks great. They did a wonderful job designing it. It’s easy and practical, like the rest of the suit, and that’s important to me.
I’ve always wondered about how practical the suit would be in real life.
Everything has to be practical. I have to be able to put the suit on and take it off by myself. Otherwise, if you can’t do that, people won’t buy it.
As a role, Ollie’s actually pretty challenging because you not only have to play him as Oliver and as the Arrow, but also as the younger, more naïve version of the character on the Island. Is switching between these various personas ever difficult?
No, that’s actually one of the best things about the show for me. I constantly have to check in with my character: Where am I? How long have they been on the island for at this point? What’s my journey like in the present day? In switching between those scenes, I have to go through that mental checklist.
It’s almost like when you’re traveling and you run through a checklist before you leave. I have to do the same thing when I approach the character. It keeps things fresh for me.
Finally, how good of an actual archer are you? Have your skills improved since taking on the role?
They’ve definitely improved. I’m actually pretty good! Any time Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner and Orlando Bloom want to have an archery contest at Comic-Con, just let me know and I’ll be there.
We’ve got to make that happen now!
Click here for a preview of tonight’s all new episode of Arrow, and look for new episodes every Wednesday at 8/7c only on The CW.