The first-ever celebrity edition of American Ninja Warrior — airing Thursday, May 25 at 8/7c — kicks off NBC’s third annual night of Red Nose Day programming, which raises money and awareness to help children living in poverty in America and around the world.
“For me, the most nerve-racking moment was the very first obstacle,” Amell, who was coached by ANW vet Kacy Catanzaro, said in an NBC Q&A. “Ninjas make it look easy… [but] it isn’t!” And from there on, he said, “It’s all adrenaline!”
“People have always wanted to see Stephen on the show,” host Matt Iseman tells TVLine. “I’m an Arrow fan and when I first saw the Salmon Ladder in the Arrowcave, I thought, ‘This sonuvab–ch is a fan of Ninja Warrior!'”
Iceman says that many celebs in the past have expressed an interesting in braving the course but without cameras rolling, “because they didn’t want to be potentially embarrassed.” So when Amell — along with Erika Christensen (Parenthood), Derek Hough (World of Dance), Today cohost Natalie Morales, Olympic gold medalist Ashton Eaton, comedians Nikki Glaser and Jeff Dye, former Yankees slugger Nick Swisher and actress Mena Suvari — signed on for this charity edition (which features a “slightly modified” course), “They came out and just threw themselves into it, which I love!”
Throw themselves into it they did. Suvari “had a horrible fall, smashed her face” and yet forged ahead in the name of charity, Iseman shared. Christensen also surprised the host with her intensity (“She is a gamer!”), as did Dye (“He was really competitive, and athletic, too — but don’t tell him I said that!”).
Asked to survey his Ninja Warrior experience, Amell said, “When I can accomplish a goal, have a blast and raise money for an awesome cause at the same time? That’s a win right there.”