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.
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.’’