Stephen Amell takes his shot this October — that’s when the 31-year-old Canadian actor takes on the title role in The CW’s “Arrow” on Wednesday nights. Amell plays Oliver Queen, a callous billionaire playboy who survives a harrowing shipwreck and then finds a new side to himself — and a dangerous new mission in life — on a remote Pacific island. The show is a reworking of the classic DC Comics character Green Arrow (it’s not connected in any way to the “Smallville” version of the preternatural archer) so it’s no surprise Amell and Warner Bros. Television will be headed to Comic-Con International next week for a Friday preview panel in Ballroom 20.
“Arrow” is the 14th live-action television series based on DC Comics characters but it’s in a league of its own (the “Just Us League”?) right now after the farewell flight of “Smallville,” the close-but-no-cigar run of “Human Target” and the calamity of “Wonder Woman,” which turned out to be exactly like the heroine’s invisible jet — everybody’s heard about its pilot but nobody’s ever seen the thing on-air. Will another DC series be announced at Comic-Con? Time will tell, but in the meantime, it’s all eyes on Amell, whom we caught up with to talk about San Diego.
HC: The Green Arrow celebrated his 70th anniversary in comics last year. When you hear that does it remind you of the possibilities and appeal — or does it underline how much pressure there is to get it right?
SA: One-hundred percent the former. When you have a character with such rich history it gives the creative team a huge well to draw from for storylines. And beyond that, we actually make a nod to the character’s debut in the pilot. That stuff is fun.
HC: Comic-Con International is the Mardi Gras for fans of the fantastic, the Cannes for capes. Have you been before?
SA: I’ve never been and I couldn’t be more excited that my first time will be in the midst of playing a character that people know and enjoy. As for what to expect? People just keeping telling me to “Get ready” and “It’s going to be crazy.” I suppose I’ll just have to form my own opinion.
HC: Arrows are big this year — Katniss, Brave, Skyrim, Hawkeye, etc — is that good news or bad news for you guys?
SA: Arrows having a cultural moment is terrific for us. If we can attract a casual viewer because they’re a newfound archery enthusiast, we’re confident we can keep them because there’s a real substance to the show.
HC: Your character is not the most wholesome or thoughtful person in the world and then he undergoes a powerful transformation after a shipwreck. Did you have concerns that the loutish behavior might create a challenge for you as far as keeping a new audience on your side early on?
SA: Keeping the audience on my side is secondary to making sure that the character is real. It’d be foolish, in the world we’ve set up for Oliver, to think that he could attempt something so virtuous without causing collateral damage. Hopefully, that will challenge the audience to keep on deciding if they’re on Oliver’s side or not. It’d be a real win for me if there were a group of viewers who didn’t particularly like Oliver, but respected what he was trying to do.
HC: Superhero costumes aren’t the easiest thing to pull off on-screen but your character’s look is more subtle and reality grounded than the usual tights-and-mask crowd. What do you like about the costume and was its look a sort of evolution? Or was it fairly set from day one?
SA: The look was set by Colleen Atwood from day one. She’s the very best at what she does. In terms of the evolution, we wanted to take her design and make it as functional as possible. Functional was definitely the key word. For me, I wanted to be able to put the costume on by myself. If I could do it, that’d mean that it works and then hopefully people will buy it.
— Geoff Boucher
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