The character of the Canary, Arrow’s distinct take on the fishnet-sporting, eardrum-bursting Black Canary, emerged earlier this season and quickly became a fan favorite. The masked identity of Sara Lance (as opposed to Dinah Lance in the comics), the Canary is a breathtaking vigilante who was forged within the League of Assassins and always seems just one small push away from darkness.
Sara Lance and her alter ego are both played by Caity Lotz on the show, who has demonstrated grace, humor and extreme physicality in the role… as well as a cool muscular physique that rivals those of her male costars. Tonight’s all new episode of Arrow, “Deathstroke,” focuses largely on the conflict between Oliver and Slade Wilson, but coming off such a stellar episode in last week’s “Birds of Prey,” we thought it was a good time to sit down with Caity for a chat about her character, playing physical roles and what it felt like to throw down with the Huntress.
Last week’s episode, “Birds of Prey,” featured two pretty intense fights between your character and Jessica de Gouw’s Helena Bertinelli. Was it fun getting a chance to finally, after a season of playing the Canary, to square off against another classic DC Comics character in the Huntress?
Oh yeah. It was super cool! I loved that we both had masked and the full blown costumes. When we were filming it and we were going head to head with each other, it felt like Halloween. You’re just totally there. It was a lot of fun.
How familiar are you with the traditional character of Black Canary? So far, Arrow’s gone a different route with the Canary than the comics, so have you tried to distance your performance from what fans might expect?
Not really. I looked at some of the comics because I was curious to know about Black Canary, but she has a completely different background and history. Her situation and where she is now is a product of where she’s been. So for me, creating the character was based off of putting myself into those positions—how it would make me and how I would feel. I was just trying to make it as truthful as possible.
How much did you know about your character the first time you played her? When did you find out that Sara was the Canary?
I found out after I auditioned. When I got the part, I met with [Arrow Executive Producer] Andrew Kreisberg. We sat in his office and he said that I wouldn’t be playing “Lisa,” which was the character’s name that I read for. He said that I’m actually going to be playing the Canary, and he pulled out one of the Black Canary action figures and said, “This is you!” I still have the action figure.
He also told me that I was going to be playing Sara, and who Sara was. Of course, it was very top secret. He said not to tell anyone who I’d be playing. But then of course, it leaked right afterwards which did not come from me! *laughs*
That’s interesting because it sounds like you went in thinking one thing, and then found out you’d be playing an entirely different sort of part. Sara Lance is a very physical role. You have all the stuff on the island, but then you also have the modern day story with the martial arts and super hero stuff. Did you train a lot to prepare?
I had trained before. Before I started acting I was a professional dancer, then I started doing martial arts and stunts, and then I got into acting. So I had trained in movement for most of my life, and more recently, I trained in krav maga, muy thai and a few other styles. So I already had pretty extensive training.
This was the first time I’ve ever had or used a stunt double. It was funny because at first I didn’t want a stunt double. I wanted to do everything myself! I couldn’t imagine having one. But now I’m so glad I have a stunt double because it’s just so much. There’s so much to do and we’ll actually have to shoot the double filming part of the fight while they’re also shooting me doing something else. We’re on such a tight schedule that those sort of things are necessary.
So none of the stunts are you?
Oh no, I do a lot of my stunts still. Especially the fighting. I do a lot of the fighting myself. I don’t do the really dangerous things like jumping off the back of a motorcycle onto a moving van. That was my double. But I definitely still do a lot of my stunts. I really like doing them. They’re fun.
You regularly have to play Sara at two key points in her life, one of which is in the past. Is that a challenge?
Yeah, it is a little bit. Sometimes the way Sara on the island reacts to something is totally opposite to how present day Sara would. All of the emotions she feels, the way she handles situations, it’s very different. I think what’s hard is that you have to convey the transformation as well. Island Sara has to be on the way to being who she will be. That gets hard, slowly making that transition. Also, Sara on the island, she’s not as competent, strong or wise… Sometimes when we’re shooting, I wish she could have the power that she has now as current day Sara. But I have to remember that she’s not there yet. She’s still building it.
Sara and Laurel seem to have reconciled. Do you think the Lance family can finally expect a little peace? Maybe a few family dinners?
Yeah, that would be fun. I think there will be a little bit more happiness for them, but I don’t know how long that will last for. Detective Lance has two crazy daughters. That’s for sure.
Finally, was that really you on the salmon ladder? Because, whoa!
Yes, it was! I had to train to be able to do it. At first I thought that maybe I could just do it, so I tried and nope.
Stephen actually taught me how to do the salmon ladder. I didn’t really have the muscles to do pull ups. I had about two weeks before we were going to shoot that scene, and when I started, I couldn’t even do one. After the first week, I could do about five pull ups. Eventually I figured it out and yeah, it was fun.
Click here to watch our interview with Caity last year on DC All Access. Arrow's latest episode, "Deathstroke" airs tonight, April 2nd at 8/7c on The CW.