Stephen Amell (Private Practice, Hung) stars on the CW’s new series Arrow, which premieres on October 10. Based on the DC Comic Green Arrow, Amell portrays Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy who following a shipwreck was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island.
When he returns to Starling City, Oliver attempts to reconnect with those closest to him and readjust to the privileged social world he used to know, while secretly creating a persona of Arrow – a vigilante – to right the wrongs of his family and the world.
When you were growing up, were you a fan of comic books? Were you aware of the Green Arrow?
I read Superman a little bit, but professional wrestling was my thing.
Those were the magazines, posters and actions figures that I collected. I have since read almost everything on Green Arrow.
When you got the role on Arrow, did you know how you wanted to play it immediately?
When I read the pilot I had a very clear vision in my head.
After my audition they didn’t really ask me to make any changes to the scenes that we did.
You’re playing variations on this character. There’s the Oliver on the island, the Oliver who was a jerk, the Oliver as the Arrow. Could you talk a bit about the different faces of this character?
As an actor, it’s really fun. When I looked at the pilot, I saw four different roles, and normally they break down day-by-day.
When we’re shooting the episodes I will have a day where it’s the fake Oliver in the real world, and then there will be an island day, and there’s an Arrow day.
It keeps me on my toes, and that was what intrigued me most when I read the pilot.
I think that’s saying a lot, because it’s a superhero show, so for me to see it first as a really interesting acting exercise says a lot about the quality of the writing.
What kind of training did you do for this role on Arrow?
I trained in parkour and the training was intense, because it was all of these muscles that I didn’t even know existed, let alone had used before.
My coach, Paul Darnell, was the double for Henry Cavill in Superman.
In the pilot I did a Kong vault up onto a rooftop, and that’s the essence of parkour, so to get that into the pilot right away was really cool.
What was the archery training like?
I’d never picked up [a bow and arrow] before.
I have a wonderful coach, Patricia Gonsalves, and she started my training by showing me a 45-minute video of all the ways that archery has been done badly on television and in film.
Working with a bow and arrow is literally one of the most dangerous things that you can do on a film set.
You’re either dry-firing an arrow, or you’re making sure that there is nobody within 180 degrees of you when you are shooting it.