[Spoiler Alert: The following report contains spoilers from the “Arrow” season three premiere, “The Calm.”]
Stephen Amell seems to love comic cons and the feeling is mutual from his many fans. New York Comic Con 2014 attendees excitedly lined up to see the charming “Arrow” star and, if the raucous applause breaks were any indication during the hour-long panel on Saturday, they were not disappointed.
The actor appeared on stage with a moderator, and discussed recent events on the “Arrow” third season premiere and answered a variety of questions from the audience. During the conversation, Amell mentioned upcoming third season elements. which include the return of Tommy Merlin in a flashback and the show’s longest, craziest action scene which happens to feature Oliver Queen shirtless and wielding a sword instead of his trusty bow and arrow.
Amell started off by saying he was “Totally among my people” and reminisced about being in a smaller room when they came to the show right after “Arrow” premiered in 2012.
From there he jumped right into discussing the death of a major character in the season three opener: Caity Lotz‘s Canary. He remembered reading the script for the first time and then talking to one of the executive producers right afterwards. “There was dead silence for about five seconds and then I said, ‘Are you sure?'” Amell remembered.
“Nobody’s a bigger Caity Lotz fan than me,” he continued before adding she was a solid addition to the cast and that he will miss her, but the creative direction of the show moving forward convinced him it was going to be okay.
“We just finished shooting a massive two episode crossover with ‘The Flash,'” he said to huge applause. He then revealed the titles of those episodes. The two parter starts on “Flash” with an episode called “Flash Vs. Arrow” and then concludes in the “Arrow” episode “The Brave and the Bold.” Even though he thought the former should be renamed “Arrow Vs. Flash” he was excited about the work they’re doing.
“It was just a really, really interesting experience,” Amell said of the season. “We’ve done an interesting job. We build up our year in nine episodes.” He explained that, leading up to episode 309, there will be a lot of thrills. “Boy, we take cliffhangers and we get literal and we take them to another level.”
With that, Amell opened the floor up to questions and people lined up on both sides of the massive room. When asked about Malcolm Merlyn actor John Barrowman’s pranks, Amell remembered that during the first time filming a scene in the first season where he’s shirtless, tied up and wet, his fellow actor walked up in full costume and gave him double purple nurples.
That wasn’t the only Barrowman-related news of the panel, though. “John Barrowman and I get a chance to get face to face in some scenes together in some very early episodes this season,” Amell said. Towards the end of the panel, when asked about what Malcom and Thea Queen have been up to, Amell said, “What has happened to her over these five months, Oliver does not like it. At all.”
Amell later explained that this week’s episode, “Sara” features flashbacks of Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell). As an added bonus, Donnell came out and sat with Amell for the second half of the panel.
“It’s not quite a Lazarus pit, by which I mean it isn’t at all,” Donnell said of his appearance before adding, “There are circumstances that bring Tommy to Hong Kong [in the flashback] as well.”
When asked about his favorite scene in the season premiere with Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak), Amell brought up a smaller moment that had a surprising amount of continuity.
“I liked the dinner scene because it did something I enjoy in television shows, which is harken back to the past in a very detailed and accurate way,” he said before explaining that she’s chewing on a pen that was in the first season. “If we didn’t have good character moments, the action wouldn’t matter.”
After that, another of Oliver’s female friends came up, Laurel Lance played by Katie Cassidy. “You’re going to see Laurel with a definitive, set purpose. She’s the first one who’s going to discover Sara.” The next episode will pick right where the last one left off and focus heavily on Laurel who has been “key this year.” He also said that fans of the character will be happy to see where she ends up.
One audience member jokingly asked where all the costumes come from to which Amell smiled and said, “There are somethings that are better left unexamined. My question is, ‘Where’s Diggle’s costume?’ Diggle needs a costume bad.”
Amell then named Hulk Hogan and General Zod from Superman II as childhood superhero favorites. He also eventually said that he would like to host Monday Night Raw, but it’s a matter of timing and training so he could actually participate. He said something very similar about “American Ninja Warrior,” which he would also like to eventually compete on.
When asked about his workout regimen, Amell mentioned an intense sounding scene that viewers will get to see this season. “We are ending episode nine, which is our fall finale, with the biggest fight in the history of our show,” he teased. “It’s not a fight with 40 people, it’s a fight with two people and I will be shirtless for the entire fight — for very good reason, not just because. There is a very good, comic-based reason why I’m shirtless. It’s not bows and arrows, it’s swords.”
After simply responding “Yup” when asked if his possible child will appear again, he discussed the hardest scene he’s had to film so far, which was Moira Queen’s death scene last season. “That was a really challenging scene, both physically and emotionally,” he said before relating that they originally had him in loose ropes. He disagreed, referring back to the pilot where he easily got out of zip ties, so they tied him up for real and he did his best to struggle against the bonds like he was really trying to save his family. “I thought that that was the very best of our show,” he said.
On the subject of Nightwing appearing in “Arrow,” Amell said it wasn’t likely. He said that being such a successful comic-based show is great, but it does lead to other shows which cuts down some of the characters they can draw from.
“The negative is that when a show like ‘Gotham’ comes around, our ability to use [those characters] is limited,” he said before noting that there are plenty of characters in the DCU to adapt. “I don’t think you necessarily need to look for the big guns.”
Speaking of comics, he later mentioned how excited he is that the books are drawing from their show by including Diggle and the others. It’s cool because Green Arrow is not a new character,” he said. “The fact that we can take inspiration from the comics and the comics can turn around and take inspiration from us [is great].” He then said that he waits until they’re on hiatus before catching up on the issues.
With the flashback shift from the island to Hong Kong, Amell not only appreciates the warmer climate but noted an important story point as well. “We have cool stuff happening in the flashback and I’me excited because at the midway point of this year we’ll be at the midway point between Oliver’s five year journey.”
Amell is also looking forward to getting back to the version of Oliver seen in the pilot because he was “killer.” However, one aspect of that era he’s not a huge fan of is the beard. “We established a look for Oliver Queen in the pilot,” he said. “I wish I’d known then what I know now.” That knowledge includes the fact that he’d have to run around with a huge glued-on beard which is not very comfortable.
Later, when asked about the show’s longevity after they hit that five year mark, he said, “I don’t know. The flashbacks are an important part of the show. I don’t know how the show will exist without flashbacks.” He pointed out two episodes in the first season that didn’t have any and they felt like something was missing.
“I like knowing when a show is going to end,” he continued. “I think it gives it gravity and it helps in the writer’s room.” He added, “I don’t know what’s happening after five seasons.” And then Amell revealed that not all of the flashbacks will focus on him. “Episode 3 is not my flashbacks,” he said. “Episode 5 is an origin story of Felicity.” .
The growing number of heroes popped up, including the appearance of Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer. “He was good,” Amell said. Later he added, “The fact that there are so many superheroes populating Starling City and Central City is going to be an important theme.” He added that all of these people will also play into Oliver’s journey to the end of the season.
Amell also addressed a pair of heroes who have been referenced, through companies like Kord Industries and Ferris Air. “I honestly don’t know,” he said when asked about Ted Kord appearing. “I know that we’ve talked about Kord Industries.” He added, “I think seeing Ted Kord on the show would be great, but I don’t know.” He later said, “I hope so, that would be very cool,” in response to a more direct question about a Hal Jordan appearance.
The subject then turned to actual heroes appearing on the series, specifically The Flash. “I love playing Oliver as sort of the older, curmudgeonly superhero with this little dickhead zipping around me,” he joked. He also said how glad he was that the series opened so well. “To me, that speaks to A) the popularity of the Flash…and B) peoples’ faith in our show, in our team and the creative forces behind that.”
Amell also noted that the boxing glove arrow might finally make an appearance this season. “No comment,” he said at first. “They’ve been trying to get the boxing glove arrow in the show for three seasons. I think they figured it out.” He later expressed interest in an “Arrow” video game, which is one reason he got involved with “LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.”
For a few more little hints about the upcoming season he said that his relationship with Felicity will change on this week’s episode, four episodes of this season — 3, 4, 8 and 9 — will feature moments he’s wanted to do since the series started and that they never actually called Caity Lotz’s character Black Canary, hinting that there might be a very good reason that a character would take up the darker moniker. While he didn’t spill the beans on that one, he did point to the connection between Laurel Lance and the comic character.
He also noted that the writers don’t like writing Oliver’s secret identity very much because they don’t think it’s interesting. “If it is ever interesting, I think it’s interesting between Oliver and [Quentin] Lance.” So, for now, Paul Blackthorne’s character sounds like he’ll be in the dark about Oliver’s other identity.
Amell addressed another topic that came up in the previous season and that’s super powers. “We introduced powers, the idea of super strength and super speed really as a gateway for the Flash,” he said. “That’s not Arrow’s world. We did that so we could help launch the Flash.” He noted that the villains will be more grounded in the third season. One of those villains is none other than Ra’s al Ghul. When asked if he thought Oliver was prepared for that challenge, he laughed and replied in the negative.
While not the last question of the show, Amell did say one thing that sums up why he’s so excited about working on this series. “I’m fiercely protective of this character because I have to live and represent this show,” he said, explaining that he spends more time with cast and crew than his family. “There will be a time when I hand the reigns over at some point.”
“Arrow” Season Three continues with the second episode “Sara” this Wednesday on The CW.
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