Comic book fans are particularly excited for The CW's "Arrow," based on the long-running DC Comics title, "Green Arrow."
Though TV fans may be familiar with one iteration of the character thanks to "Smallville," this reboot of the hero is darker, grittier and more grounded, and the HuffPost TV team was unanimously positive in our initial reactions to the pilot.
Having been a fan of the comics for many years, I was pleased to sit down with the stars of "Arrow," Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen) and Katie Cassidy (Dinah "Laurel" Lance) at Comic-Con a couple of weeks ago. The following interview doesn't give anything major away, but if you're trying to remain completely unspoiled about the upcoming CW drama, proceed with caution.
Were you both aware of the comic books before taking the roles, or did you have to go back and read up?
Cassidy: I did because I wasn't aware of the character. After I got the role, I went through and did a lot of reading and a lot of research.
Amell: I was equally unaware of the character before I auditioned. The audition went very well and so I thought about going and reading a bunch of the comic books [before filming], but then I was almost worried that I would mess things up. It didn't seem to be broken, so I didn't want to work too hard on fixing it. We had a creative team and they were so connected with the character that I figured whatever they put on the page and however they directed me would be correct. So I waited until after the pilot and then I read everything.
Do you feel any pressure taking on these iconic roles? Obviously there's not the same level of brand awareness as with Batman or Superman, but there's still a loyal existing fanbase to satisfy.
Amell: I feel a ton of pressure, but it's not as it relates to playing a character that people know; I feel that that's actually an advantage. I feel pressure because we want to make a really good show and I'm super hyper-competitive, as Katie knows. I would say to her during the pilot, "Katie I want to win." She'd go, "Stephen, what does that mean?" I said, "Katie it doesn't matter. I just want to win. Whatever that means." So there's pressure from that standpoint, but it's positive pressure.
Cassidy: I feel like there was a little bit of pressure for me, but more so, it's just a little intimidating. But I honestly try not to think about those things because I'll just get in my own way. So I feel as though in those circumstances I sort of rise above as opposed to buckling under pressure.
[Spoiler alert] I love the little nods to the comics, like Deathstroke's mask on the island. Are they just innocent Easter eggs for the fans or will they form concrete storylines going forward?
Amell: Based on my experience talking to Drew [Kreisberg] and Marc [Guggenheim] who are sort of our two head showrunners, I don't think that they're going to drop Easter eggs in there if they don't plan on delivering.
Have you guys heard any feedback from the fans after the pilot premiered at Comic-Con's Preview Night? How is everyone reacting to it?
Cassidy: The response has been amazing -- the feedback couldn't be better. The crowd was really excited. So far, the one thing that everyone consistently has said is that it looks like a movie, which is a huge compliment to us and everyone involved.
Amell: I was talking to someone earlier, and they used the "Batman Begins" and "Bourne" movies combination ... These are hugely successful movie franchises and if you're in that company, that's incredible. The pilot was pretty far reaching and I was a little bit ... worried is the wrong word, but I was curious, going into the second episode, like, "OK, well, are we going to be able to do that again?" And then I read the script for the second episode. I'm like, "Oh, no, we're pushing past this" and it's very big. It's very far reaching.
You haven't started shooting Episode 2 yet, but I know you've read the script -- what can you tease about what's coming up for your characters after the pilot?
Cassidy: As Stephen said, as far as the action goes and the production, the second episode is equal to, if not a bigger production [than the first].
Amell: There's more action in the second episode.
Cassidy: As far as my character goes and the relationship between Oliver and Laurel, you get more of a sense of the two of them and their history together and you can tell that there's definitely a deep connection between these two. There's a lot at risk at times during the second episode. Literally from watching the pilot to the second episode, I feel like everything extends even further. I was literally a page turner.
Amell: The first thing that happened to me when we finished the pilot was like, "I want to see the second episode! I want to read the second episode!" When I read the second episode, now I really want to read the third episode. [Laughs.] In the first episode, we see Oliver get home and it's the euphoria of being home. But then in the second episode, the music stops playing a little bit and he has to reestablish these relationships. How does he do that? How does he present himself? We tossed a couple balls in the air with his relationship with Diggle (David Ramsey) and with his relationship with Thea (Willa Holland) in the pilot and we’re going to see some resolution there and -- as we'll do sometimes on the show, not always -- what happens when he gets to the island.
Nice segue, because I loved the flashbacks in the pilot and wanted to know if we'd see more of his time on the island, and whether we'd be flashing even further back than that?
Amell: I don't know if we’re going to go further back than what we’ve seen, because someone asked us if we were going to see our relationship and our history ...
Cassidy: Like when we were kids?
Amell: Yeah, that would be far back -- but maybe when we were 18, 19 or something like that.
Cassidy: Hopefully it's just pictures!
Amell: Yeah. But we’re going to spend some time on the island, because they take the series and they ground the series in reality and one of the best ways to do that is to see the protagonist get injured, dropped really low. Oliver didn’t just become what he is now, he had to be broken first. So I think we’re going to see that.
[Spoiler alert] Katie, do you know when we should expect Laurel to embrace her superheroic side as the Black Canary? Do you feel like that's something we might see in Season 1 or is it something they're keeping for further down the line?
Cassidy: I have no idea! [Laughs.] They've literally told me up to Episode 3 what's going to happen. We'll have to wait and see.
"Arrow" premieres Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
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