Arrow is a huge hit among CW viewers, blending high-octane action with unrequited love and tense familial relations.
Warner Bros. invited Wetpaint Entertainment to the set of Arrow, where we chatted with star Stephen Amell about Oliver’s double life and romantic sacrifices, the subtext of the storylines, and the show’s unique tone. And, of course, since this is November, we couldn’t resist asking him about vampire sex.
Wetpaint Entertainment: When Bruce Wayne came back as Batman, he could pretty much enact his plan because he didn’t have friends and family. What’s it like for Oliver to come back and have to balance his old life with this new mission?
Stephen Amell: The biggest problem for Oliver so far hasn’t been any bad guys, necessarily. It’s been his relationship with Thea (Willa Holland) and Moira (Susanna Thompson) — and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) to a lesser extent. They’re a big problem for him, and — going into Episode 8 — he can’t continue. Whether it’s bringing them closer, whether it’s giving up what he’s doing... something is going to have to change because the way things are going right now, it’s deteriorating the relationships in his family.
He’s not afraid to go dark, and we see that he shoots to kill. Is there a line where he’s no longer sympathetic and he may be more of antihero?
See, he was a fan of wrestling growing up... I’m actually kind of hoping that it pushes in that direction. I don’t need everyone to agree with Oliver’s tactics, as long as you respect his overall goal. He has to get his hands dirty a little bit. And I’ve always felt like that’s where a character really resonates with people. Whether that’s in a positive way or a negative way solely depends on the viewer. But this, to me, is not a popularity contest. As long as the television is compelling, then I don’t really care if people like him or dislike him.
What can you tell us about the epic love triangle?
I think the fun thing about this show right now is the depth of each character. I mean, we see Tommy as this swashbuckling, carefree individual. And as we move through the series, we get to see a real substance in him. As Oliver, if I’m being truthful, I know what I did to Laurel and I know how important Tommy’s friendship is to me and if the best way for both of them to be happy is with each other, then I wouldn’t stand in the way. That doesn’t change how I feel, so that has all the makings of a really good love triangle.
We’ve heard Laurel and Oliver might fall back into bed faster than fans might expect. You’ve talked a lot about how you feel like Oliver isn’t good for her. How much will this — if and when it happens — tarnish what they are working on rebuilding?
Oliver is saying he’s not very good for her, but one of the things that he’s dealing with is that he’s lonely. There’s nobody for him to talk to, save us introducing a volleyball into the show. As for Laurel, he does know that he’s not good for her. But at the same time it would cease to be a compelling relationship if they didn’t continue to cross paths. You know, we want to see Laurel and Oliver together.
What’s it like for you as an actor going from these rather intense action scenes to the interpersonal part of Oliver Queen?
I’m not supposed to say that I like one better than the other, because it’s everyone’s dream to put on a suit whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy, but I love the interpersonal stuff so much because there’s always so much underneath what’s happening. There are so many lines that can be played with two meanings.
I have a scene with Paul Blackthorne in Episode 7, and I have a line to him where I go, OK, I can say it to him this way because of something that happened to him in Episode 2. Then we had this experience in Episode 4, then we had this experience in Episode 6... and because of all of that, that completely colors the scene for me. So having all this information at my disposal makes these interpersonal scenes so rich, and that’s really exciting.
The audience knows that Moira has a secret agenda. Does Oliver get suspicious of her, or is there no cause yet?
No cause. Let that burn, let it move slowly. You don’t really, really consider it when you’re filming the scene; but in so many of my scenes with Susanna, who is really wonderful as an actor and a person and a scene-partner, we’ve had a lot of sweet moments. And you don’t think about it at the time, but retrospectively, when you think about the episode and how it’s gonna play — and I’ve seen some stuff that we’ve done — you just imagine someone yelling at the television, “No! No, she’s evil!” Which, I think, would be a mistake to assume.
What’s going to surprise people about the show?
If you come into the series with a certain expectation based on what you expect from this network, just in terms of tone and subject matter and the way that we deal with it, I think you’ll be very surprised. Not to say that it’s better or that it’s worse. But I think we’re using interesting tactics and I think that whether you’re a television viewer who’s interested in interpersonal relationships or really kickass action, you’re gonna get what you’re looking for. The places that we’re trying to take this and the locations that we’re using and the unflinching nature of the storytelling technique is gonna surprise people.
But no vampire sex?
Not yet. We’ll see how the ratings are.
Arrow airs tonight and every Wednesday at 9 P.M. ET on The CW.
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