Thus far, the women who’ve donned the mantle of Black Canary on “Arrow” have experienced the life expectancy of their namesake bird in a coal mine. Series Newcomer Juliana Harkavy, however, is hoping her take on Dinah Drake will nevertheless be suiting up soon – as Black Canary or otherwise.
As “Arrow” returns to The CW for the final six episodes of its fifth season, the actress joined CBR for a look inside her tour of duty on Team Arrow. We discusses her dedication to learning everything she can about one of comics’ original superheroines, and her budding interest in graphic storytelling – not to mention her experiences on a pair of other comic book-based TV series
CBR: Whether Dinah ends up becoming the new Black Canary or assumes another identity on Team Arrow, are you looking forward to that first time you get to slip on a superhero costume?
Juliana Harkavy: Oh, yeah! I get so jealous because they all look so cool in their costumes. They just look so awesome. They look like real superheroes. I would love to have one on. I think it would be so much fun.
Once you got the sense of where she was going, and that she may end up as Black Canary, did you do some digging and do some research as to that character from the comics to see what you might be able to take a little inspiration from?
I did. I did a little digging. I want to really go back and read all of the comics and be really well-versed. But what I found was really fun, just little anecdotes, little tidbits that I think about and that help me with her character – like, in the comics, Black Canary was in a band. I’m a musical person in my life, and I think that’s an awesome connection that she has. I use that, and little things like that. Little elements from the original.
She’s got a long history. I discovered her in the ’70s, and just always thought she was an interesting character, always had kind of a fondness for her. It’s nice to see that eventually she became this very mainstream, pop-culture-recognized character after being around since, really, the 1940s.
That’s so cool to hear that. I have not actually spoken to many people that were aware of her back then. Years and years ago, the original. That’s cool — the really retro Black Canary pictures are amazing. The art itself is just so fun.
At this stage of the game in Hollywood, every actor looking for a fun, high-profile role has got to be somewhat conversant in the world of comic books and graphic novels. You’ve certainly had that experience more than once. Did you have a familiarity at any point prior to the necessity of knowing these things to get work? Or are you discovering that art form?
That’s a cool question. I’m really discovering it, I am. I’ve been a fan of comics, but I’ve never been like a diehard like, I’ve never really owned a bunch of comics or anything. But I’ve always been drawn to them, and read them.
There’s something about them that I love. It’s such a simple and effective way of communicating so much in a comic. You don’t have many words, but they really say a lot. That’s a fascinating concept to translate on to screen. I’m really drawn to it. I don’t know. There’s something about the comic book genre that I think is so cool, and artsy, and unique. It’s not like anything else.
Yeah, I think maybe that is why I keep sort of falling into it. There’s just something there I’m really drawn to. Also, the history is cool. You really have a following and a history in these characters, so you can bring them to life, and then go back and look at these really old pictures of the character. It’s just so cool.
Tell me about that first experience with this kind of property, “The Walking Dead.” That’s another fast moving train that you jumped on.
Yeah, seriously! It’s true. It was amazing. “The Walking Dead” was so much fun. It was like the perfect introduction, because it was just a couple episodes. I got to get my feet wet and play, but then sort of come back out again. Yeah, “Walking Dead” was fantastic. It was so exciting. It was the biggest thing in the world at the time – it still is. I just couldn’t believe that I was on it, actually.
Was there a big takeaway from that experience, or a favorite memory from the episodes you were on?
I’ll never forget being at lunch, and just sitting and looking beside me, and there’s a zombie drinking like a Dr. Pepper and eating a sandwich. It shook me. I think the makeup and the effects that I saw on “The Walking Dead,” I’d never seen anything like that in my life. Those guys are just geniuses. It’s incredible to work, it just looks so real, it makes it so much easier because it all looks so real.
I remember getting a little lightheaded on one of my days on set because something looked so real, that I was literally, it had an effect on me, as if it were real blood, or guts, or whatever it was. For me, I’d never done anything like that before. That was so just gory, and real, and graphic. It was really eye-opening, and incredible, and fun.
You also did an episode of “Constantine.” Was there a special memory from that experience? That’s a show that, even though it didn’t last very long, the audience that watched it absolutely loved it.
“Constantine” was just really fun, and I loved it, and I loved the energy. It had a similar energy to “Arrow,” in a way. It was just a very cool, stylistic shoot, and I just really enjoyed it. I was able to get lost in it. The whole shoot was great. That was a quick shoot on “Constantine.” I got to make some friends, and just sort of get deeper into the comic genre. So that was a really nice shoot.
With such a dedicated fandom following these shows, I even before you were on screen probably, the minute you booked “The Walking Dead” and it went public, I imagine you got a bunch of new Twitter followers and a group of instant fans just because of that connection. I’m sure the same thing happened when you came onto “Arrow.”
Yeah, with the “Walking Dead,” it was the first time that I had a group of people sort of start to follow me right away and quickly. Yeah, it was good practice for “Arrow,” because it was a similar thing. But everybody has just been really supportive and kind. So it’s been nothing but positive, the social aspect, the social media aspect.
What’s been fun about when you’ve had a chance – either on social media, when people have recognized you, or you’ve been at an event – to interact with the fans? What’s the fun thing to hear from them, the things they want to know, or the things they want to talk to you about?
Just like what you just said: that you’ve been reading Black Canary comics since the ’70s. Things like that make me feel like I’m part of something really special, and that I really owe it to the legacy of this character to do her justice. I haven’t seen it yet.
Stephen always tells me — he’s like, “The moment that you first see that little girl dressed up in your costume, you’re going to realize what it’s all about.” I can’t wait for that moment. I just get excited when people like the show and when people have a connection with the characters. It excites me, and it makes me want to do a better job.
Are you looking forward to getting an opportunity to interact with some of the heroes on the other DC/CW shows?
Very much so, yeah. Like the crossover episodes, I’m so excited about. Now that they’re doing musical crossovers, I’m more excited. I want to be part of all of it. I started watching “Flash” and “Supergirl.” I love them both. It would be awesome to be able to work with those guys.
Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Willa Holland and more.