Arrow's Emily Bett Rickards: 'I Was Sad to Know How Sad Felicity Had Been'

Arrow Felicity Backstory

Tonight at 8/7, The CW’s Arrow will reveal “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak,” as the superhero drama delves into the quippy computer whiz’s complicated past.

TVLine grabbed a few minutes this week with Emily Bett Rickards (right after she had filmed a “draining,” “sad moment” for Felicity, hmm) to preview this long-awaited deep-dive, reflect on the “Olicity” break-up and tease the big Arrow/Flash crossover event.

TVLINE | Who do you think anticipated this episode more, you or your fans?
Oh, me. Me. Yeah. I mean, the fans of the show have been anticipating it more since I’ve filmed it, but I’ve been craving it since Day 1, so I was really, really excited.

TVLINE | It must be a great tool as an actress, to have that extra information to work with.
You get to have that information, but being able to actually work that information and rehearse and act with other people, the other characters… You fall in love with it. That’s the joy of it, and that’s why we “crazy people” do what we do!

TVLINE | What most surprised you about Felicity’s past?
Her deep turmoil. I always thought that she was this light person that was now coming into this world of trouble. I knew that she had heartache in her life, from different areas, but now I respect it more.Arrow Felicity Backstory Now that I know and have felt it…. I just love her so much, and I was very sad to know how sad she had been.

TVLINE | Felicity previously hadn’t spoken highly of her mother. When Donna (played by NYPD Blue‘s Charlotte Ross) shows up, is there some sort of lingering tension or a grudge between them…?
Not a grudge. She’s quite embarrassed by her mother, because she is this whirlwind opposite of whom Felicity is. Within the episode, getting to see her mother again, she learns how to accept her, and I think that’s very important.

TVLINE | Are there any references to Felicity’s mysterious father during their exchanges?
No. A lot of people are wanting that but… [Reconsidering her answer] Oh… Grrrr…. Sort of…? There’s the weight of how that family dynamic would have been, but you guys don’t get any, you know, “Daddy gold.” [Laughs]

TVLINE | Outside of Felicity, does anybody have a specific reaction to her mother?
Well, she does get introduced to people in Felicity’s present day life, and those people…. Donna presents herself as likeable, which is interesting for Felicity, because she doesn’t think she likes her mother. She loves her mother, but she’s like, “Oh god, this is my mother.” Arrow Felicity BackstoryBut yeah, there are characters that smile when they meet her.

TVLINE | What can you tell us about what Nolan Funk (Glee) is doing in the episode, as Felicity’s ex?
We get to see him in his college years, and we get to see Felicity in love. We get to see young college love and that whole game.

TVLINE | Young brunette love. Have you ever been so brunette in your life?
I have been a brunette! I went to an acting school for four months and I had very, very dark air. My mom’s natural hair color is black, but she’s sort of a blonde-y redhead now so… no one believes me!

TVLINE | I have to say, there’s a certain something about the brunette….
I know! I’m not opposed, I’m not opposed….

TVLINE | In one of the photos Arrow Felicity Backstoryfrom this episode, Felicity looks very distraught, Ray Palmer is nearby…. Will there be some bonding? Will they share a real moment, finally?
That’s going to be expected to come, and yes, he’s going to be sort of a transparency in her life, perhaps be her polygraph, as she is for everybody else, which I find very refreshing for her.

TVLINE | In your mind, why did Felicity go to Central City last week?
You know what, I think that time and space was needed, from Starling City, from Oliver, from all this “stuff.”

TVLINE | But was she also looking to suss out the Barry situation?
That was definitely part of it, but I don’t believe that she would have gone if things hadn’t reached this point in Starling City. The death of Sara, the drama with Oliver…. Even just having a break to go somewhere with more daylight! [Laughs]

TVLINE | Speaking of Oliver, in the season premiere you had that terrific “break-up” scene with StephenArrow Oliver Felicity Kiss [Amell]. How satisfying was that for you as an actor?
That was one of the best moments. As an actor, you’re just like, “Yes. This is what I live for. This destruction, this release.” It’s therapeutic in a way. I really like working with those scenes where you get to take moments, because we work fast all the time. Having the chance to take a moment in a scene is very appreciated by me as an actor.

TVLINE | What can we expect from the two-night The Flash/Arrow crossover event [airing Dec. 2 and 3]?
The shows are sort of sharing a villain, so we are trying to track down someone that leads us to both cities, and both teams have to work together. There is danger, and there are new dynamics. I mean, Felicity gets to work with Caitlin, which is always very, very fun. Two women of that intelligence caliber working in what’s still a “man’s world” is very satisfying as an actor, and as a friend [of Danielle Panabaker].

Want more scoop on Arrow, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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34 Comments
  1. Kate says:

    Thanks very much for this cool interview, Matt! Really appreciate it. I love how Emily talks about Felicity and how excited and protective she is of her. Very excited for “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” tonight. BTW, got anything else on that “draining” moment? What ep are they shooting now? ;)

  2. Claire says:

    Thank you for this Matt! I love her interviews, she has some smart answers and really seems to know her character and the general direction of her path. Seems like she’s a fun interview—do more with her! LOL

  3. Lou says:

    Yay thanks for this interview! I’ve been waiting for it because I’ve been looking forward to learning more about Felicity ever since we met her and she was just a guest star. What EBR has done with this character is nothing short of incredible and I just love Felicity so much. I root for her always.

  4. GildedRose says:

    So excited about this Felicity Smoak episode. Can’t even put it into words but tonight can’t come fast enough. Love that we’re finally learning more about Felicity, exploring her family, and seeing where she comes from. I’m thrilled that Emily Rickards is getting to talk. Haven’t seen her in interviews or at conventions or anything in too long. And still rooting for her and Oliver to get together. They’re still the romance I want on Arrow.

  5. Sammy says:

    I have no interest in watching a romance with Ray, seriously, I’m here for Oliver and Felicity and the more they mess around with that, the more annoying it becomes. Now that I got that rant out of the way, I can’t wait for this episode! First episode since the premier that I’m actually excited about. This season has been pretty basic so far. Hope it improves.

  6. Trish says:

    This episode is finally here! I can’t wait to see what bits & pieces of her life we get to see. This should only be the beginning. It’s incredibly frustrating to see the state of Arrow at the moment and to be deprived of this long awaited back-story. Felicity Smoak has been such a vital presence on Arrow for the past two years, I can’t help but question where the show’s priorities have been. I’ll include Diggle in here as well. These two characters are the most beloved and yet the most frequently denied proper time given to their character arcs. If this doesn’t change soon and more respect given to the Oliver/Diggle/Felicity arcs that I watch for, I’m afraid there are far too many options out there to continue with Arrow.

  7. Kay says:

    Can’t wait for tonight…..Loving the dark hair also!!

  8. Jenny says:

    Gosh I can’t believe I’m saying but I’m rooting for Ray and Felicity.. Love their chemistry and Oliver needs to see this girl he loves with someone else so he can realize what he gave up!

  9. Atiporn Vinaikosol says:

    You go girl!!! Felicity rocks but I need Olicity moments. One thing I don’t like is it seems Felicity is growing apart from Oliver.

    I want to see her more with Stephen @ comic con. Pleazzzz

  10. Sam says:

    I love Felicity but I’m really missing her moments with Oliver. I don’t necessarily mean romantic moments but just their closeness and friendship. It was a highlight of the show before but they seem to have ruined it by forcing distance between them and now Ray’s turning into a love interest and why? Ugh. No thanks.

    • LTaveira says:

      I feel your pain. I have warmed up to Olicity and it would be nice to see a grown up relationship with the action and not some idiot playboy fake out. We’ve seen Oliver start to emotionally grow up in some departments and as much as I like the comic book world I hope that he will be good friends with future Black Canary and be the man that stays with a woman that makes him a better self. Is that to much to ask? Darn haven’t felt this way about a show in ages! Come to the conclusion it because of Ms. Smoak.

  11. Evan says:

    I’m a total Olicity shipper and I don’t even care if we don’t get any Olicity. This is Felicity’s episode and the sneak peeks I’ve seen so far have me so excited. This is Felicity’s episode, and I am ecstatic for my girl to finally get her backstory. Awesome interview Matt, love EBR in all interviews. She is so charming.

  12. Anon says:

    Great interview, thank you! I Am soooo looking forward to watching this episode! Arrow is a much better show with Emily. More Felicity and Diggle please!!!!!

  13. LTaveira says:

    Felicity is awesome! Can’t wait for tonight’s episode.

  14. Thanks so much for this interview Matt! EBR really has an excellent grasp of Felicity. Can’t wait to see this episode!

  15. brenna says:

    Felicity is awesome and so is Emily. I love her interviews. She always give great answers. Thanks Matt. For others who are fans of Emily, there are several other really good interviews out there right now. Can’t wait for this episode. Sounds like its going to be great in present day and past scenes.

  16. kate says:

    great interview. i can’t wait for this episode. felicity is easily the most engaging character on Arrow and an episode all about her is long overdue. emily bett rickards seems to have a great grasp of who felicity is- love reading what she has to say!

  17. aunni says:

    i think the arrow writers r excited n nervous at the same time, cz if they screw any side of felicity’s characterization (look at laurel), her fans (including me) r going to be super mad.
    nice interview, thnks for asking if she (EBR) was a brunett in real life. my guess she has natural brown hair.

  18. Lizo says:

    So excited for more of Felicity’s backstory. She’s without a doubt my favourite character. The black hair is so different! I like the blonde better.
    .
    I really really hope for more Barry/Felicity stuff. They are so cute.

  19. christopher bee says:

    Emily looks gorgeous in black.

  20. Brigid says:

    LOVE her hair dark. Looks so awesome!

  21. Amber says:

    Thanks for the interview! I love this character and Emily seems so cool. I’ve been looking forward to this episode since they announced it over the summer. It looks like its going to be full of goodness: Felicity, Mama Smoak, Olicity and Team Arrow.

  22. ninamags says:

    I saw the picture and thought “who the hell is that goth girl?” LOL.
    She looks like a completely different person!
    It will be interesting to see what makes her tick.

  23. Sarah T. says:

    I’m really looking forward to tonight’s episode. I’m an “Olicity” shipper but I actually like the dynamic that Ray and Felicity are starting to have. I think he might be good for her, especially if he causes Oliver to wake up (it doesn’t hurt that Brandon Routh is easy on the eyes).

  24. Hodan says:

    I have been waiting for a Felicity episode. Can’t wait!!!

  25. Briggs says:

    I can’t wait to see what happens here. Especially in the building of Felicity’s relationship with Ray (which will affect Oliver), and how her past is impacting her now. The CW released a clip, and IGN gave us one that features Mama Smoak, so my appetite is whetted by those and what EBR said in the interview. I can’t wait to see where the writers are taking us this season with the show. It is, after all, only episode 5 of 23. I assume nothing until episode 10 or 11. Hopefully, the ratings continue to go up.

  26. kath says:

    Thanks for that interview. It was interesting to hear her views on Felicity and what’s going on in her life.

    I am so excited for this episode! I’ve been wanting to know more about Felicity since season 1. And the show has been so depressing lately, I hope this will have the Felicity fun.

    I’m not sold on Ray/Felicity though. Still don’t see the spark that there is with Oliver.

  27. Jp says:

    Love me some felicity. #WhoIsFelicitySmoak

  28. Blah says:

    Last time Brandon routh showed up on TV attempting to romance a popular blonde it completely destroyed that shows momentum and it didn’t return till routh went bad and became the villan.

    Just make felicity black canary already, let her and Oliver get together and let her keep her memories when the show finishes is it so hardp

    • CK says:

      That awful finale twist/final season of Chuck just slipped my mind completely. I don’t know if I would blame the momentum destroying on Routh though. Also, Felicity becoming Black Canary and Laurel’s subsequent “Wtf” reaction would just kill any (?) remaining love for the character.

      • Briggs says:

        I was going to ask, are we sure Chuck wasn’t already on a downgrade when that happened? These poor actors get blamed for the failure of a show that was already on it’s way out. Which, Arrow is not, in spite of what people might tell you. The ratings went up last week. UP. And there isn’t baseball to compete with this time.
        .
        That being said, I’m seeing the potential for their relationship, and I heard a rumor he might be moving to The Flash next season, so really, it’s all much ado about nothing. There are *eighteen* more episodes to air after tonight. EIGHTEEN. So maybe we could tone down the drama until, say, after the fall break.

  29. joyce says:

    she’s good. she’s my fave character on tv. I enjoy watching her.