It’s a good day to be Arrow.
Because as dark (and deadly) as things have become in Starling City, the mood on the CW hit’s Vancouver set in mid-February is bright and lively, given the news that series lead Stephen Amell just helped shoot across the Internet: Season 3 is happening.
Not long after tweeting out the good word — and prior to blocking a quite pivotal scene that will air this spring – Amell kicked back in his trailer for a conversation with TVLine, sizing up Team Arrow 3.0, anticipating the inevitable Oliver/Slade showdown and surveying the many complicated relationships a chiseled billionaire vigilante must navigate.
TVLINE | How does the lead of a show find out about renewal? Is it a [WBTV president] Peter Roth phone call? Is it [CW president] Mark Pedowitz…?
You know, Peter Roth has been so wonderful to me — you can print that. [Laughs] He called me the morning after we premiered and he was really excited, and then he called me the morning after our second episode, when our numbers held, and he was like, “It’s on, baby.” He was super pumped. Mark Pedowitz had a conversation with several execs, and then I found out about a half hour before [the press release], because they wanted me to tweet the news and share it on Facebook. It’s good because we’ve seen some really interesting growth in terms of some demographics that are a tough get. I fully expected the show to be renewed, but I’m also of the school that I can’t…. I mean, I haven’t even extended the lease on my apartment yet, so it’s a real honor that they have faith in us and that they do these early renewals.
TVLINE | Coming out of the last episode, “Heir to the Demon,” both Sara and Roy are basically on the team now. How will that affect dynamics inside the Arrowcave? I mean, it’s getting a little crowded there.
Well, they’re “on the team” with a lowercase T. I mean, there’s myself, Diggle and Felicity, and everybody else for the moment is just kind of a visitor.
TVLINE | They’re “available assets.”
Exactly. I didn’t bring Roy in by choice; I brought him in out of necessity. So his introduction to the team is going to be a bit slower than most people think. He’s not coming out of the next episode in a red version of my suit. He’s very much on the periphery. Canary, on the other hand, immediately becomes like a full-fledged member of the team. Like, when I go out, she goes out — and vice versa.
TVLINE | And how do Diggle and Felicity take to her in that capacity?
I think that they understand her skill set, but in this coming episode (airing Wednesday at 8/7c), it definitely ruffles some feathers. Like you said, it’s not a very big cave.
TVLINE | The logline for that episode says that after seeing Oliver, Diggle and Sara comparing battle scars, Felicity “starts to feel left out.”
Felicity doesn’t actually become intimidated when we’re comparing battle scars. She become intimidated when, out of nowhere, Sara infringes — or so she perceives — on her territory a bit in terms of something that needs to be done on the computer. That’s where feathers are ruffled, so Felicity tries to branch out a little bit.
TVLINE | As far as Diggle versus Roy versus Sara, what do you see their specialties as being? Do they serve specific purposes?
Well, Diggle is seasoned. In the show and in real life, Diggle is older than me. He has more experience with combat than I do. He has some tactical know-how, and he’s very much my “Pump the brakes for a second and think about what you’re doing” guy. He’s my conscience in some respects. Roy, meanwhile, is just brute force, and if we are on a very calculated, precise mission, he’s not the person that I call.
TVLINE | He’s a liability.
Precisely. But when the stakes get raised — and I’m sure as you would anticipate, the stakes are being raised very shortly — we need somebody with the Mirakuru to match up to other people who have the Mirakuru.
TVLINE | Speaking of the Mirakuru, it’s been a bit quiet on that front for the past couple episodes. Is that because the team is supposed to believe that they got Skull Mask? That he’s been neutralized?
You saw that Brother Blood was in cahoots with Slade Wilson and that their initial attempt to mass-produce the serum wasn’t successful. Slade said that he would get him another sample of the blood, but obviously that hasn’t happened yet. But we are about to see that storyline jump right back into the mix.
TVLINE | Oh, in this next one, Episode 14?
The end of this next episode is one of our best in terms of, “Please let it be the following week right away!” And it’s actually funny, because I’m a big fan of Robert Knepper (who’s guest-starring as The Clock King), and as it turns out I didn’t actually get to work with him. But I saw a cut of the episode and he’s just fantastic. It was a real honor to have him on the show.
TVLINE | Will Oliver start getting inklings that Slade’s involved in the Mirakuru plot? Or will it be like “Boom — here’s Slade!“?
Oliver has no reason to suspect that Slade is alive, much less alive and well in Starling City, so I think that if it came across little teeny piece of information by little teeny piece of information, he would almost dismiss it. I think that it’ll happen the other way.
TVLINE | Will we get that missing piece of flashback that connects the dots about why Slade got so angry?
Our 15th episode, titled “The Promise,” is this season’s version of “The Odyssey,” in that present day in Starling City takes place over the course of 40, 45 minutes, but a lot of time passes on the island. It’s the episode that I am most proud of. A lot of people have written or said that there are a couple of episodes in the second half of our first season — “The Odyssey,” “Dead to Rights” — that took the show and elevated it to the level that we’ve gotten to this year. I believe that our 15th episode — and possibly our 13th episode that just aired — are the episodes that take the show to another level.
TVLINE | I was going to say, you always knew that action and ass-kicking was going to be part of this role, but you must also be satisfied with the emotional places that Oliver’s been allowed to go — both in the current timeline and of course in the flashbacks.
I’m very satisfied with it. I had two opportunities in Episode 13 — after Felicity tells me that Merlyn is Thea’s father, and the scene where I confront Moira – that I was very happy with. They essentially kept that Moira scene in its entirety, with all of the awkward pauses. We have a very finite amount of time to tell a very big story every week, so I was very happy that that ended up on TV. There is a scene coming up in Episode 14 and it’s a side of Oliver that we’ve never seen. It’s him essentially giving up on somebody. They’ve given me some room this year to operate, and it’s been very exciting.
TVLINE | That sounds like the scene you teased for us on the People’s Choice red carpet….
That’s right. There is an Oliver/Laurel encounter, the likes of which we’ve never seen — and also a scene from Oliver, and from Laurel as well, that we haven’t seen on the show yet. I think that based on the way that people have embraced those scenes this year, there will be an episode before the end of this season that will be a little different in tone, in terms of what we focus on for the hour. You’ll know when you see it.
TVLINE | Let’s talk for a minute about the women in Oliver’s life. The close of the last episode rubbed some people the wrong way, so tell us: In your mind, what brought Oliver and Sara back together in a heated clinch?
Caity [Lotz] and I talked a lot about that, and there is a lot more history between those two characters than the audience knows about because there are a lot of things that are happening on the island that we haven’t seen unfold yet. We don’t know yet, as a viewer, how important Sara is in Oliver’s life. This was backed up for us by the writers, that there is a far richer history, whether it be romantic or not, between Oliver and Sara than we have experienced yet on screen. So, I understand why it rubbed some people the wrong way, that in some sense it came out of left field, but to think that this was just an “I’m sad, you’re sad, let’s have sex” moment would be incorrect. The deepness of their connection, we don’t totally understand yet, but it’s certainly deeper than a casual hook-up.
TVLINE | OK, because that seems to go against what Oliver once told Felicity, that he can’t be with someone he cares about. Aren’t you saying that he cares about Sara?
He could very much care about Sara, but what’s the thing that we know about Sara? She can take care of herself. Part of what Oliver said to Felicity in that episode is that he doesn’t know if he’s willing to open himself up to having feelings for her, if in fact he does, because the danger is so imminent when you’re in close proximity to him…. Him working with her and her working with him is one thing, but a relationship is another.
TVLINE | A reader wanted to ask, “How are we going to see the Felicity/Oliver relationship evolve over the rest of the season?”
When we introduced Barry [Allen] in Episode 8 and 9, we saw a lot of people saying, “Oh, Oliver’s jealous.” I don’t know how it came across, but that certainly wasn’t the way that I was playing it. It was more curiosity about this guy and their interaction. But jealousy? Not so much. We have this Oliver/Sara thing happening now, and the immediate reaction is, “Oh, Felicity’s going to be jealous.” But Felicity’s way stronger than that. Felicity is much more interested in the overall goal of this team than the fact that Oliver and Sara might be together, and we see that in this next episode. We see Diggle say, “This must be difficult,” and her say, “Yeah, OK. Leave me alone. I’m working.” So, I think that we will see Oliver and Felicity’s relationship really solidified as partners and equals.
TVLINE | And how are things between Oliver and Moira now?
Not good. There’s nothing between them. There’s public support of her campaign and… that’s it. And that’s tough.
TVLINE | And she has a whole other secret she’s keeping from him. That Malcolm is alive.
Yes, she does. And as we know on our series, the writers aren’t particularly interested in allowing people to keep secrets. So yeah, things are really tough between Oliver and Moira at the moment. Whenever I finish playing such a scene with Susanna Thompson — basically Episode 14 through what we’re shooting now in Episode 18 — I feel kind of bad. When you really have to excoriate someone, especially someone as lovely as Susanna, when you see her heartbreak and you’re trying to be steely, it’s really difficult.
TVLINE | What are you hearing about the finale? Any teasers or anything from the producers?
I’m hearing that we want to rent out a block [of the city]. I’m hearing that the scale and the amount of people involved is something that we haven’t yet seen on the show. This season has been incredibly expansive, you know? We have an episode coming up that’s just Diggle, titled “The Suicide Squad,” so we have a dynamic between a group that we haven’t even seen. We’ve taken the Arrowcave from three people to five. We’ve had stuff happening in Russia. We have Malcolm Merlyn. We have the League of Assassins. We have so many things – including, of course, Slade and Brother Blood. There are so many things up in the air, and I think they’re all going to land at once — and on opposite sides.