As “Arrow,” newest superhero drama, rockets towards its season one finale the cast descended on Anaheim’s WonderCon 2013 to meet fans and speak with reporters about the show.
Based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, Oliver Queen (played by actor Stephen Amell) is a playboy billionaire by day, bow-and-arrow wielding vigilante by night, attempting to right wrongs and restore his home, Starling City, to its former glory. However, Oliver’s mission has been a bumpy one, resulting in a rising body count and the recent destruction of his relationship with best friend Tommy Merlyn.
“We see a total shift in episode sixteen; all of the sudden nothing’s the same anymore, and that really carries us through the end of the season,” actor Colin Donnell, who plays Tommy, said of episode where Tommy learns the Arrow is Oliver.
“There’s a break there, and it’s just irreparable. I don’t know if he ever really gets over it,” Donnell said, adding, “He’s not too happy about it. Come on, the guy’s murdering people! It’s reasonable!”
Tommy has an equally bumpy relationship with his father, the evil Malcolm Merlyn, who comes back into play leading up to the season finale as Malcolm has now put Tommy to work for him. Played by John Barrowman of “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood” fame, Donnell laughed as he recalled working side-by-side with the actor for a big action sequence.
“We’re running up this escalator and he’s like, ‘We’re going to go through it, we’re going to run up this escalator and things are going to be awesome!’ And the escalator is running, so we go up, and then we come back down and [the director’s] trying to do something, but we come down doing a total musical comedy act!” Donnell laughed.
With a surreptitious glance around the table, Donnell added in a whisper, “This is blasphemy: I’ve never watched ‘Doctor Who’ or ‘Torchwood!'”
Donnell is not the only one who got to act alongside one of “Doctor Who’s” famous alumni. Paul Blackwell, who plays Starling City Detective Quentin Lance and father of Oliver’s ex-girlfriend, has also gotten a chance to work opposite actress Alex Kingston (“Doctor Who’s” River Song), who plays his estranged wife Dinah Lance.
“It’s our second time round, we were on ‘ER’ about ten years ago and we had a little flirting in the medical world,” Blackthorne recalled. Laughing, he joked the writers would work that fact into their back story somehow: “Yeah, we met in a hospital, in the ER. ‘Did I meet you in ER one time?’ ‘I think I did!'”
While Blackthorne was cagey about whether the Lances might get back together in the remainder of season one, he admitted that part of Quentin would love to reconnect — especially when he first saw Dinah reenter his life.
“He’s very sad because he spent five years in pieces, really, and its three years since he last saw his wife, and just for that moment to almost return to those old days, it happened very effortlessly, to slip back after the initial shock. He reminded himself that he’s a human being after all, and he has experienced love and a relationship, but it’s been a long time,” Blackthorne said, adding with another laugh, “So yay, he was happy — and then she ran off again!”
Thea Queen, Oliver’s sister played by “The O.C.” actress Willa Holland, has also had her share of relationship (and drug) problems. However, Holland believed as the season wound to a close, things were looking up for Thea.
“She’s not just sitting at the house anymore. I’m happy they started writing her outside the mansion, thank god for that Vertigo accident, she got some sense knocked into her,” Holland said. “After that she went with Roy and that was a nice reality check for her. I think things are getting really good for Thea. I think she’s almost, somewhat, I’d like to hope and pray, on a virtuous path.”
Despite her character’s “poor little rich girl” beginnings, Holland told reporters that Thea had very good reasons for acting the way she did at the start of the season.
“In all honestly, what, she was twelve when Oliver disappeared? So twelve to eighteen having no brother, no father, and the only thing you remember about your brother is him being a crazy drug addict party animal, you go ‘Hey! Why don’t I do that?'” Holland said.
This also partially explained Thea’s fascination with Roy Harper, played by “Teen Wolf” actor Colton Haynes.
“Thea and Roy have a very interesting relationship because he’s the bad boy she’s always dreamed about,” Holland said. “You would think Thea would start following Roy down that path but she’s kind of going through a good stage in her life, it’s almost like she’s trying to put him under her recently found steady wings.”
The two also share their interest in Arrow. “[Roy’s] holding the red arrow and they’re going on this journey, almost, to find out who Arrow is. Roy, Colton’s character, is sort of enamored; Arrow saved his life, and who wouldn’t be enamored with someone who saved their life? Now he has to figure out who he is, and Thea being absolutely in love with the guy follows along,” Holland said.
“I think she is be afraid of the idea that she might be searching after her own brother,” she added. “I don’t think she has any idea about that, but the fact that she’s searching after the Arrow on its own is a little bit scary.”
Though the scariest thing for Tommy was the reveal of who Arrow was, Donnell thought it may come in a distant second if Malcolm ever goes through with showing his son the Merlyn arsenal.
“I’ve been saying this a bit lately, I think if he was willing to show him once there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t show him again. You never know!” Donnell laughed.
The young actor also had some scares filming the show’s action sequences. “Those gunshots are loud!” Donnell laughed as he spoke of an on-set staged gunfight. “You never think how loud it’s going to be until a squib’s going off near your ear and you’re like, ‘Ok, I guess it’s not that hard to react to that!'”
However, the biggest shock for the actor personally was Arrow’s identity reveal in episode sixteen. “Stephen [Amell] got a hold of the script before I did. I got a text from him that was, ‘Holy shit, dude.’ I said, what? He said, ‘Episode 16 — you’re going to know.'” Donnell recalled.
Though Donnell may still be getting used to the fight sequences, Holland cannot wait to get involved in the action.
“I’m waiting for the day that the arrow is put in my hands, guys! I am adamant and ready to do so, and I think we’re getting closer!” Holland laughed.
However, the actress equally believed it would be a long time before any fans saw Thea become Speedy.
“I think the writers and producers, and I very much agree with what they’re doing, I think they’re trying to instill the characters with a little more before taking them on these different paths. There’s obviously hints to me being Speedy and Laurel becoming Black Canary, and off the bat Oliver’s Arrow. But he went through five years of a very traumatic event, so there were a lot of things that brought him to becoming Arrow. I feel it would almost be throwing that away if we didn’t do justice to everybody else becoming those characters,” Holland said.
Blackthorne, whose Detective Lance regards Arrow at best as a murderous thorn in his side, rolled his eyes when asked how his character would feel if Laurel or Dinah became vigilantes.
“Oh, I’d be fine! Go ahead, make my day!” Blackthorne joked. “I think he’d just get them out of the house, sod it, go on and do it, see if I care! Maybe he’d join them himself in the end, who knows!”
On a more serious vein, Blackthorne was full of praise for actress Katie Cassidy, who plays Laurel, and explained that the two spent a lot of time working out their histories together.
“We talk about it, we talk about our relationship and our history as a family. I think it’s important to do that; it’s my approach to acting and Katie’s as well,” Blackthorne said, adding, “To me, that’s what acting is. The bit you do in front of the cameras is just the last little bit of it. It’s what you do before that, where you’re developing character, history, relationship, that’s acting.”
This is not to say that Blackthorne or any of the other cast members know the complete Oliver-to-Arrow timeline, or what’s going to happen on the island flashbacks.
“You never know what the writers will come up with next,” Blackthorne told reporters. “You could take an episode or two and say, ‘Ok, he seems like a pretty decent guy, so I’ll play with this,’ and then episode four it turns out he’s an axe murderer. That messed up my back story! I have to adapt!”
As for the green-lit season two, Holland hoped for a happier life for Thea and Donnell wanted to explore his and Oliver’s break more, but for Blackthorne, there was only one thing he wanted his character to do moving into the future: give up.
“Obviously he’s dragged down very much by the tragedy of his life in this first season; I think the grief over the death of your own child is not something you’re going to get over easily. But I’m just wondering if there’s a way in which I let go of the hope,” Blackthorne said. “I think if he can finally say it is over it’ll help him turn corner and see life in a different way, with a different attitude.”
Evidencing a sense of humor as black as his character’s, Blackthorn smiled and concluded by admonishing the fictional Detective. “Smile a little! You still got one daughter left!” the actor laughed.
“Arrow” airs Wednesday nights at 8pm/7pm central on the CW.