Originally set to make his splash into comic book television in the role of Arthur Curry in the unaired Aquaman pilot "Mercy Reef," actor Justin Hartley made his way to The CW's "Smallville," trading in his swim trunks for a bow and quiver as Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. Hartley appeared in seven episodes over the course of "Smallville" Season Six and returned again in Season Seven. Slowly befriending Clark Kent, Queen was soon to become part of a team of young heroes that bore a striking resemblance to the Justice League. With "Smallville" Season Eight set to begin September 18, Hartley officially joins the regular cast. We caught up with a conspicuously scruffy-looking Justin Hartley to talk about the future â€" and past -- of Green Arrow.
As any Green Arrow fan knows, Oliver Queen's origin began when the playboy became stranded on a deserted island where he was forced to learn how to use a bow and arrow to survive. Should fans take his stubbly appearance to be a signal that we are going to see the "Smallville" version of Green Arrow's origin story? "Yeah," Hartley said with a laugh. "I am about ready to be on an island. We are going back into the 'Smallville' mythology a little bit and kind of explore how Oliver became the Green Arrow, why he is the Green Arrow, and how he became so good at archery and all that stuff."
Hartley did regret not knowing the series' plans sooner, or he would have grown out his facial hair further. "I wish I would have had a bit more notice but we'll see what we can do by tomorrow at five o'clock in the morning."
Oliver Queen and Clark Kent's relationship has changed since Green Arrow's first appearance as Lois's love interest in Season Six, and it looks like that relationship will continue to change during the course of Season Eight. "They're buddies," Hartley said. Tthey're friends in the premiere [of season eight], that's actually why Oliver comes back to look for Clark. Yeah, we're going to see [changes], Oliver gets broken down a little bit [this season]. He starts looking at all the things he sacrificed to do what he does and he starts to wonder whether or not it was worth it, which is kind of cool."
Hartley believes Queen's second-guessing of his role as the Green Arrow also makes the character more relatable to fans. "I think everybody does that," the actor explained. "But I think once you do that, just like in everything, once you question something and your heart's not in it, it becomes really dangerous to keep doing it because you are vulnerable, you're susceptible. Just like you hear these football players say 'if your not playing 100% you are going to get hurt.' So there's that and as he starts to kind of question whether or not it's worth it anymore."
This provides a strange dichotomy between Clark and Ollie, as their roles seems to switch. "Clark is starting to embrace his destiny a little bit more, so you see that happening," Hartley revealed. "It's interesting because the guy that's worn the suit is going the other way and the guy who has never put the suit on is going the other way. So we start to butt heads a little bit so it's going to be fun."
When Hartley received word that the studio was looking to bring him back to "Smallville" as a series regular, needless to say he was excited. "I had just shot a pilot with Cassidy [Freeman, who plays Tess Mercer on 'Smallville']. She ruined it," Hartley joked. "They didn't pick it up and I think it was a day or two later [when] I got the call and we talked a lot [about it]. I love playing the character, it's a great show and a lot of fun for me so when they said series regular I was definitely interested. I'm excited about it."
Another thing that brought Hartley back to the show was the writing. "I got a lot of faith in them, in the writers," Hartley said. "They always write good stuff for me. I am just lucky because I get to be the face that benefits, they're the ones that do it though."
Fans can look forward to more with the emerald archer, Justin Hartley, later this week on CBR TV. Also, check back every day this week for a new interview with the cast and crew of "Smallville."