Memories From the Set
Arrow Preview Donna Smoak

Arrow's Charlotte Ross Previews Mama Smoak's Return, Revisits NYPD Blue, Days of Our Lives, Glee and Other Roles

This Wednesday on Arrow (The CW, 8/7c), Charlotte Ross reprises her role as Donna Smoak — only this time, viewers can expect to see a bit more of Felicity’s mother, who thus far is slated to appear in at least three Season 4 episodes.

TVLine spoke with Ross not just about Donna’s latest check-in on her daughter (and any other “relationships” that might blossom during her stay), but also her career at large, as she entertainingly recalled in our “Memories From the Set” slideshow.

TVLINE | What brings Donna back to Star City?
I’m happy to say that it’s because she and Oliver have been talking on the phone. Their relationship has progressed and he has asked her to return to Star City.

TVLINE | The last time we saw Donna, she nudged Felicity to follow her heart, so she must be happy with how things turned out with Oliver.
Yes, it used to be that she just wanted Felicity to get a boyfriend! [Laughs] She wanted to help her change her hair Arrow-Donna-Smoak-Returnsand her wardrobe, but that evolved to me seeing my daughter feel vulnerable and scared and really start to fall somebody. And even though Donna’s had a lot of hard knocks, she knows that you have to put yourself out there and walk through fear and the unknown to really find true love. Of course, nothing could make Donna happier than seeing Felicity truly, truly happy with someone who really loves her. Donna obviously really cares for Oliver now, so she is very supportive of their relationship.

TVLINE | We’ve got you around for a small stretch here. Does that mean we’ll delve a bit deeper into who Donna is and who she isn’t?
I would love to; I’m up for that. When I came on this show, just like with any new character, they have a good, strong idea of what they want, but then they see what works and what doesn’t. I’m really grateful that Emily [Bett Rickards] and I from Day 1 have had this natural chemistry. I feel like she “gets” me, and I “get” her, and we just love doing our scenes together. [For Donna and Felicity] it has grown from this bit of animosity, after we hadn’t seen each other for a long time, to, even though we’re really different, now liking being around each other. We’ve grown more and more into friends, organically. What’s also grown, which maybe wasn’t originally there, was this idea of me being involved with other characters on the show. And I’m going to meet [Quentin] Lance in this week’s episode….

TVLINE | There we go. Under what circumstances do they finally meet?
You’ll have to tune in to see! But I will say that it’s another example of how strong the fans’ voice resonates. Paul [Blackthorne] and I did this selfie in a trailer last season, and the fans started this whole #SmoakinLance hashtag — and we were giggling because we haven’t even met on the show! And yet the fans had us already ‘shipped! I had dinner with [showrunner] Andrew Kreisberg a few months ago and I kept saying, “Is this really going to happen?” and he said, “We’re gonna do it, and we’re going to see where it goes.” The thing is, Paul’s character has had so much to deal with that’s so heavy, I think the fans want him to have some happiness. And just like with Felicity and Donna, while it’s not a natural pairing, sometimes differences are what pulls people together. They both love their children, they both have had to overcome a lot of pain and heartache, so there are things that could possibly connect them.

RELATED Follow Charlotte Ross on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

TVLINE | Will we learn anything new about Donna in these upcoming episodes?
You definitely learn a bit more about my relationship with Felicity’s father. You already know that he didn’t treat me well, that he wasn’t nice — but to what degree of how bad or evil was, we really don’t know. But as her relationship [with Felicity] progresses, the conversations can get a bit more scary, more intimate for them. Donna has a lot of experience to share with her, and in that she can also talk about what it was like to be with her father.

But wait, there is much more! In the slideshow below, Charlotte Ross reflects on many of the TV roles she filled before Mama Smoak, from a (controversial) NYPD cop to that Salem, USA “bitch you love to hate.”

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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20 Comments
  1. Liz says:

    I adore Mama Smoak! She’s been such a fun addition and I hope to see her pop up now and again. I like learning more about Felicity and her backstory and I love that Donna has now built a friendship with Oliver too. I can’t wait!

    • Liz says:

      I forgot to add that I’m probably the only one who doesn’t want Donna to have a relationship or whatever with Quentin. No thank you. Not interested at all. I don’t want the Lance family near the Smoak family at all.

      • Rob Watkins says:

        Yeah, we wouldn’t want to make a horribly clichéd character even remotely interesting.

        • Liz says:

          Wow. No need to be so rude. I’m entitled to my opinion. And since when is sticking someone in a relationship the only way to make a character interesting?

          • jbj says:

            I think what Rob Watkins was trying to say is that Lance hasn’t had much opportunity to show his humanity outside of his professional or parental. While there is reason to feel some compassion for him, after awhile, his one-notedeness becomes easy to ignore, if not loathe. Injecting a little romance–especially with someone like Donna, who exudes positive energy despite living a difficult life–is a good way to change Lance’s tune a bit, lighten him up, and remind us that he is a person who loves very deeply.

            I think the reason Charlotte and Paul’s selfie resonated with so many fans was because he was smiling, a large lovely smile that Lance has never had. It was practically a “‘Twas the Beauty who tamed the Beast” moment.

          • Rob Watkins says:

            Sorry, but why do so many like her clichéd character? jbj, that’s not what I’m saying. Lance has constantly shown his humanity. He can get angry a lot, but he’s more layered and interesting than Donna. Every single beat since her introduction was predictable, and it doesn’t help that she dresses like a floozy. Lance doesn’t need a romance to lighten him up. We’ve seen Lance smile, we’ve seen him happy. I think you are overstating the resonance that picture had. Having a purpose that isn’t a mission of spite like in season 1 and much of 3, but one of justice and redemption like season 2 and 4 does wonders for him. What I didn’t like was the idea that the Lance family is uninteresting which is what the original post appears to imply.

            If Donna is going to be a regular, she needs to do more than be peppy and say the most clichéd things. She has to be a character, not just someone that comes in and says the most obvious things like “follow your heart” or has her supposedly strong moment where she sticks up for her daughter whom she doesn’t understand, etc.

          • Liz says:

            Rob, I like her because she’s fun and something different than all the other characters on this show. And I don’t find her cliched because after the way Felicity spoke about her back in season 2, I was expecting someone who wasn’t a good mother and didn’t really care about her daughter and what we got was the complete opposite of that. Who cares how she dresses? That screams of sexism and misogyny to me which is gross so just don’t go there.

            And Donna isn’t going to be a regular. She’s in three episodes this season. Plus Felicity is a main character and she deserves to see her family sometimes. Everyone else has family on this show, why can’t Felicity?

          • jbj says:

            Rob, I suppose I really can’t speak for others, however I am more of a Charlotte Ross fan than Donna fan. I have been for decades, and was kind of disappointed when she a) didn’t return to DOOL and b) didn’t get an arc from her guest appearance on Nashville. Her appearance on Arrow was a consolation prize for me.

            I’m not overstating the relevance of the photo…she was interviewed about it after it happened, even though there hadn’t been any plans to bring her back, and she brought it up again in this interview. I think that’s why Donna was so sparsely written. One of her skills is giving depth to two dimensional characters, so while I doubt Charlotte is going to become a regular, I do imagine that she will become less clichéd.

  2. Linda says:

    From Eve Donovan to Mama Smoak, Charlotte Ross has changed little.

  3. J says:

    I love your site but lately every time I click on a gallery and try to look through the pictures it will lead me away from the site to an ad on a new page without even clicking on anything….after every single picture, sometimes multiple times on the same picture! Please fix this….it happens on my iPad and iPhone but not on a regular computer. Thanks.

  4. Fosho says:

    Paula? Or Paul!? :) I am so excited for this episode. Momma Smoak returns and meets Lance, Oliver meets Curtis, The Canary is back, Olicity, more Damien Darhk, Diggle working with Lance and Thea and Sara hopefully discussing the bloodlust. Soooo many awesome things to look forward to.

  5. Drew says:

    The writers really need to stop looking at Twitter for their story ideas. At times, the show has veered toward fanfic rather than the natural, genuine storytelling that it should be. They need to stop listening to the loudest fans (who often aren’t the majority) and figure out their stories on their own.
    As for why she is back… is it to build a relationship with Lance before he dies, or to build her relationship with Felicity before she dies?

  6. Smoak Arrow says:

    I’m so excited about everything in this article. Can’t wait to see Donna & Felicity’s relationship grow, see Donna’s relationship with Oliver and Felicity built, learn more about Felicity’s father (that’s going to be fascinating!) and absolutely excited for Donna and Quentin! Finally! They’re absolutely going to be amazing together and given their characters, they’re a lot more alike than people suspect, I think.

  7. Mr. Tran K says:

    Charlotte Ross should have return to DAYS as part of the soap opera’s 50th anniversary. She was great during her run on NYPD Blue back then.

  8. obriensg1 says:

    I remember when the FCC threw a fit over a nude scene of hers in NYPD Blue. It was so ridiculous. If my memory serves, it wasn’t even in the moment. It was years later

  9. pem says:

    I think this sounds awesome! Totally looking forward to it. Love Donna, cant wait to see her and Oliver– I think it’ll be pretty funny. I have a couple of issues w/Donna and Lance, but am pretty open to seeing how it plays out. Pretty excited about this episode.

  10. herman1959 says:

    Wow, I had stopped watching NYPD Blue by that time, so I didn’t know she was on it. Arrow writers should give her more material to work with.

  11. Flashrow says:

    OMG Quinn Fabray’s mom is Felicity’s one also