Arrow’s Oliver Queen on working out, Barrowman and mixing it up with The Flash
“I get notice from the producers if and when I’m gonna be shirtless”
If there’s one show at the core of the current superhero TV renaissance it’s Arrow. And much of the credit for the success of Warner Bros’ take on DC Comics battling bowman Oliver Queen must go to Stephen Amell’s sympathetic portrayal of this 21st century Robin Hood, a man haunted by past misdeeds but determined to save his city at all costs. In less than three years, Amell’s show has spawned spin- offs, action figures, and a videogame incarnation ( found in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham), all of which the amiable Canadian actor couldn’t be happier about — even as his on- screen counterpart has endured his greatest trials ever, including a mid- season impalement at the hands of the nefarious Ra’s al Ghul. But if the mile- wide smile Amell wears when SFX catches up with him in Los Angeles is any indication, there’s still plenty of life left in Starling City’s champion… With shows like The Flash now spinning off from Arrow, what it’s like to be at the centre of the expanding DC TV Universe?
It’s been wonderful. Because every time we are given permission to bring someone like Grant [ Gustin] on as Barry Allen… Some of the guest stars that we’ve been able to get on our show have been wonderful — getting John Barrowman was such a coup in our first season, and Brandon [ Routh] certainly — but then you see, on The Flash, Wentworth [ Miller] and Dominic [ Purcell] and Victor [ Garber]. I feel like every time that happens that’s a vote of confidence from people. What are your feelings towards DC having separate TV and cinematic universes?
I’ve spoken a lot with the DC people about how focusing on each of those [ universes] being the best that they can be is just as advantageous or possibly more so than having to focus and worry about constantly cross- pollinating everything. A lot of people have said, “Well, Agents Of SHIELD is a good show, but boy, they’re just sort of tied to the films and sometimes it can be a hindrance.” So I like our position. John Barrowman has said he appreciates the results of your workouts for Arrow.
[ Laughs] I love John so much. David Ramsey and I and Emily [ Bett Rickards], we have a particular type of fun, but I’d say that my most educational experiences on set both in a real form — in terms of growing as an actor — but also just enjoying myself come from John. With such a testing shoot, where do you find time to work out?
Well, I wouldn’t call it a “mistake”, but I went so balls to the wall with training for the pilot… The pilot is this standalone event where we have 17 days to shoot one episode, we have a month to prep, and I have so much adrenaline that I’m able to work out every single day when I’m filming, whereas the season is a 23- episode marathon with eight days to shoot, and travel. But I have to pick my spots, and I have to get notice from the producers if and when I’m gonna be shirtless on the show so that I can ramp up. Because I can’t go through a process where I maintain that pace of the pilot. It’s impossible. The introduction of Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer created a love triangle between his, your and Emily’s characters. Would you like to see that continue?
I’m envious of Brandon’s character because of how fun and carefree he is, despite the fact that he is doing what he is doing because of the tragic event in his life that happened quite recently. But the good thing is I just enjoy Brandon personally, and he and I have only worked together one day — it was the third day that we shot this year. I am hopeful that sometime in the future we’ll get to do more stuff. Do you have a favourite episode to date? I’m always gonna be a slave to the recent, to the new. I’m still proud of our midseason finale this year. I think that the episode where
Moira [ Queen] died last year was our show’s execution at its finest. Would you like to see a more integrated Arrow/ Flash universe? When you and Grant work together, his character brings things out of Oliver we’ve never seen before. You’re exactly right. We were doing some promotional things yesterday, and we got to do some stuff together, and there’s just something about the chemistry between the two of us and the differences between the characters. So I do hope that we get more opportunities to cross over. I know that we will. How do you stay so focused outside of working out? This really is a dream job. I always try to remember it. I’ve been able to remember it more so recently because of how much time I’ve had away from the show. That perspective has given me a lot of room to appreciate.
Arrow airs on Sky 1 HD in the UK.