Willa Hol­land

Teen angst takes a su­per­hero twist for this ris­ing star, writes DEB­BIE SCHIPP, as a for­mer OC res­i­dent aims for the heart in Nine’s new drama Ar­row.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - CELEBRITY -

AR­ROW Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Nine

SHE cut her teeth on teen fan favourites The OC and Gossip Girl, and on Green Ar­row comic-book su­per­hero-in­spired drama Ar­row, Willa Hol­land is again play­ing a trou­bled teen.

But her Ar­row char­ac­ter Thea Queen is a far cry from those ear­lier roles. She’s a lit­tle darker and deeper, for one. And she just might wind up hav­ing su­per pow­ers.

But for now, with Ar­row in its early episodes on Aus­tralian screens, but more es­tab­lished in the US, Hol­land, 21, is just en­joy­ing be­ing part of build­ing a show from the ground up.

‘‘It’s just so great to be part of some­thing from the be­gin­ning,’’ Hol­land says of her role play­ing the younger sis­ter to Stephen Amell’s lead­ing role of Oliver Queen in Ar­row.

‘‘For The OC and Gossip Girl it was a case of join­ing shows which were al­ready es­tab­lished. But with Ar­row, we have built our char­ac­ters and re­la­tion­ships from the ground up,’’ Hol­land says.

Hol­land may only be 21, but she caught the act­ing bug at an even younger age, af­ter step­ping into the lime­light as a fash­ion model signed with the fa­mous Ford Agency at the age of seven.

Signed with a the­atri­cal tal­ent agency, she landed the role of Kaitlin Cooper in The OC as a 12-year-old, tran­si­tion­ing from be­ing a fan of the show to a mem­ber of the cast.

Then Gossip Girl beck­oned, but af­ter a se­ries of ap­pear­ances on that show in 2008, and a one-off re­turn to it in 2010, Hol­land was plan­ning on con­cen­trat­ing on films.

Then the script for Ar­row landed in front of her, and she was lured back to the small screen.

‘‘I kind of didn’t think I’d be com­ing back to tele­vi­sion for quite a while,’’ Hol­land says.

‘‘I thought it was some­thing I was not keen on do­ing any more. But cir­cum­stances change when an amaz­ing piece of ma­te­rial comes at you. I’ve made the right de­ci­sion.’’

On Ar­row, Hol­land’s char­ac­ter’s brother has been miss­ing – pre­sumed dead – for five years, leav­ing a griev­ing teenaged Thea to take on the party an­i­mal ways he ex­hib­ited be­fore he dis­ap­peared.

‘‘I think she kind of put her­self into Ol­lie’s shoes when he left,’’ Hol­land says.

‘‘Be­fore he dis­ap­peared he was a ram­bunc­tious party an­i­mal him­self, so she kind of started liv­ing up to that a lit­tle bit.

‘‘In her mind he (Ol­lie) had passed away and her fa­ther had passed away as well, and that’s an amaz­ingly aw­ful thing to hap­pen to some­one about 14-years-old. So she’s just gone into this dark place, I think.’’

But Oliver’s re­turn af­ter five years throws Thea off course again.

It doesn’t help that she knows he’s har­bour­ing a se­cret (view­ers re­alise early that he has su­per­hero pow­ers, but she doesn’t).

‘‘Ba­si­cally, she’s been griev­ing for five years and now he’s back and he’s been act­ing so dif­fer­ent to the per­son she knew, it’s mak­ing their re­la­tion­ship very strained,’’ Hol­land says.

‘‘It’s like she re­sents him for for dis­ap­pear­ing and then reap­pear­ing and not ex­plain­ing what hap­pened. She knows in­stinc­tively some­thing has hap­pened to him, but she does not know what.

‘‘That con­flict is fun to play. It’s some­thing I re­ally sink my teeth into. I like it a lot.’’

As the Ar­row sea­son plays out, more su­per­hero char­ac­ters – both good and bad – ap­pear, but Hol­land is un­sure whether Thea will dis­cover she has su­per­hero pow­ers.

‘‘I think it will be a way off if it hap­pens, but if it does, I’m so ready to pick up a bow and ar­row,’’ Hol­land says.

‘‘If I had a su­per­hero power in real life I’d want to be able to tele­port, to be some­where the sec­ond I think about it.

‘‘That’s prob­a­bly a symp­tom of liv­ing too long in LA. I hate traf­fic.’’

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