When Arrow made its debut in 2012, it turned actor Stephen Amell into a household name … all thanks to that one scene where he was shirtless and performing – what seemed like the impossible – the salmon ladder (hoisting oneself up on a series of metal rungs with a long bar).
It was one of the most talked about scenes in the pilot. Television, ruled by zombies and vampires at that time, needed a ripped superhero and we got it in the form of Oliver Queen, Amell’s character on Arrow.
But Amell is not a new face on TV. The Canadian actor started his career in 2004 guest starring and appearing on shows such as Hung, Queer As Folk, 90210 and Private Practice.
When he was offered the role of Oliver Queen, Amell confessed he didn’t know much about the comic book character. But he had one vision in mind when he shot the pilot episode – he wanted to ensure the show would be a success.
“I feel pressure because we want to make a really good show and I’m super hyper-competitive,” he told Huffington Post in 2012. Well, he definitely has fulfilled his vision. Not only was Arrow one of the best new shows in 2012, it also gave fans the spin-off series The Flash, which in turn gave us Legends Of Tomorrow and Supergirl.
However, in S4 of Arrow, fans were disgruntled with the creative direction of the show as it focused too much on the love story between Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), the magic and mysticism storyline and the mundane flashbacks.
Amell says fans need not worry as the show will be steered into the right direction in S5. In a transcript provided by Warner TV, the 35-year-old actor said: “In S5, we’re really going for it. The season is mean. Really mean. I love the fact that The Flash, Supergirl and Legends can have their lighter moments – and I think it is important to have that, too – but Oliver is getting to be a bit of a grizzled veteran in S5. He is getting back to where we found him. That’s really exciting to me.”
1. How do you think magic theme impacted the overall feel of the show last season?
I thought Neal McDonough (who plays Damien Darhk) was wonderful. I loved working with him, and I wish he was still around because he was such a joy to have on the set.
At the same time, the magic… I feel like it was important but it also taught the show a lesson, which is what I personally think, that we are better when we are a little more grounded.
2. S5 of Arrow moves away from the themes of mysticism and magic, and returns to the reality of early episodes of the show. How do you feel about this change of mood?
I feel like Oliver’s most important relationship in the show is not with Felicity, it’s not with Thea, it’s not with Diggle; it’s with Star City. That is what we focus on this year and it feels good.
It’s really amazing that we started with one show and now we have four – but Arrow has always been the most specific show. It’s a street level, crime-fighting show about making Star City better. It feels like we’re getting back to that in S5, which is cool. I like it a lot.
3. As a fan of wrestling, you must be excited that WWE alum Cody Rhodes plays a villain this year.
Oh yeah, Cody’s coming in this year. He plays a villain in Ep 3. We’re going to fight. I don’t think that this will be the last year of the show – but at the same time, this is the end of a chapter, so to speak.
One of the things that we do this year, which I think is very cool, is that the villain – the big bad this year – was created by Oliver. It was created as a result of Oliver’s actions in Season One. I think that’s a really cool place to take the show.
4. How would you describe the relationship between Oliver and Felicity this season?
They are very much partners. They are the remaining members of Team Arrow at the moment.
We had a heated disagreement in the first episode of the season and I really like the way that it played outbecause we didn’t argue like I was trying to be gentle. I had my opinion and she had hers; we hashed it out and went from there. I think they are in a really good place.
5. What else can viewers expect this season?
This is probably the last year of flashbacks, which means that we have a lot to accomplish. That means the impetus of the flashbacks would, I think, have a lot more urgency.
(And I still) have a lot of questions (about Oliver’s five years on the island). I made a list and I sent it to the producers.
“When does he make his bow? Why does he have a beard? Why is he dressed as a castaway? Why is he dressed as though it’s been him and a volleyball for the past five years?”
Let’s answer these questions. We made a big list and we’re going to answer them all.