Arrow’s Felicity Smoak tells us why it’s not all about the glasses...
Felicity Smoak is the ultimate breakout character. An appearance in Arrow’s debut season was destined to be a one- shot deal until the power of viewer love promoted her to the show’s frontline. Now a key player in Oliver Queen’s vigilante taskforce, the timorous tech- queen injects the smarts and the snark, bringing light to the Starling City bowman’s grim crusade. The role’s a breakout for her alter ego, too. Until Felicity, the closest Emily Bett Rickards brushed against fame was a turn as a smalltown bride in a Nickelback video. Now she earns the kind of fan devotion reserved for the highest Tumblr deities. In London to promote Arrow’s new season, she proves to be a bag of mischief when SFX catches up with her. “Fe- li- ci- ty Smoak,” she sings, as we hit record. Is that the official Felicity Smoak song? “No, but it is the official Felicity Smoak jingle…”
Did you sense Felicity’s potential right away? I just thought she was great. Just a great little treat. At that time I didn’t have a consistent job as an actor. I’d never had one. This is a total dream. I still feel like somebody’s going to wake me up. You can’t expect something like that. You can’t expect somebody to expect something like that [ laughs]!
She’s been embraced by the fans. Do you ever check out the online love or is that dangerous? I never Google myself. That’s weird. Someone told me “You should Google!” and I was like “That makes me want to puke.” I don’t want to do that. I can barely look at my yearbooks! I think it’s cool, though. I mean, they really like her; I don’t know that they really like me! I’m glad that Felicity is just so relatable in that sense. She’s kind of the audience’s perspective, even from season one. She grows with the audience, grows into accepting what she’s doing. I think the audience gets to see that and hopefully feel that – that’s the goal. You guys need to feel it!
“This is a dream. I still feel like somebody’s going to wake me up”
It’s all about the feels. It’s all about the feels. Which is a new term I’ve learned since doing this show. And shipping. I didn’t know what shipping was. I was like “Wait, Costco does that? Fed- Ex?” There’s Olicity [ fan fiction involving Oliver and Felicity]. And you should check… what is it… Oliggle?
Illegal? It’s legal everywhere I’m from. Fifty states and Canada.
Are the glasses key to your performance? Did you have to find the right pair of specs to find the character? For the audition I used my glasses, and then they based Felicity’s off of my glasses. I had to get new glasses for myself because I now associate those with Felicity so much that they aren’t me any more.
Do you get recognised without them, or is it a Clark Kent deal? I’m very surprised when people recognise me. I do not really dress like Felicity. I remember walking out on set in the first season and David Ramsey was sitting outside the trailers. I was wearing a black leather jacket and black, black, black, black, black, and he was like “Hi, I’m… Oh my god!” He didn’t even recognise me!
Is that your secret biker chick side? Yes, I’m so dark and mysterious. [ Whispers into dictaphone] So dark and mysterious. Mysterious. Mysterious. I just want to make sure that’s in there.
Arrow’s a show that’s big on flashbacks. What would Felicity’s flashbacks to five years ago be? School. MIT. I think they’d probably involve the lacrosse player that she dated – which is weird, because you’d never think she’d date a lacrosse player. I always thought that was weird in the script. We’d probably see her taking a really bad trip on pot brownies. That would be a good one. The party where she accidentally took pot brownies because she thought they were real brownies. Are these romcom flashbacks? Sitcom? I don’t know. If you were to go back to her childhood I don’t think it was as funny. That’s probably why she’s hiding behind the screen, right?
You’re lucky on Arrow – you get all the funnies. I do get the funnies. And does that feel like a gift? Oh yeah. That’s a golden ticket, every time, because they don’t go to anybody else… thank god, because I want them!
Because I’m selfish. And humble. And so mysterious.