TV
10/10/2012 02:07 pm ET

'Arrow' Premiere: Willa Holland Talks Being Green Arrow's Sister, Becoming Speedy And More

Comic book fans have been looking forward to The CW's "Arrow" (premieres Wed., Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. ET) for months, and the wait is finally over. The new series -- from "Green Lantern" screenwriters Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, along with "Fringe" and "The Vampire Diaries" writer/executive producer Andrew Kreisberg -- follows billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who returns home as a secret vigilante after being stranded on a deserted island for five years.

No one knows what exactly happened to him, but his ex-girlfriend Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), sister Thea Queen (Willa Holland) and the rest of his loved ones are more than a little concerned.

Below, Holland -- a mainstay of teen TV who has appeared on "Gossip Girl" and "The O.C." -- talks about the pressure of the rabid comic book fans, whether or not she'll become Oliver's sidekick Speedy and what about this show motivated her to return to the small screen.

Were you told any backstory as to what Thea's been up to during the five years Oliver was missing? It seems pretty sad for her in that mansion.
It's been up in the air as of now. It hasn't been written into stone per se. What I've taken from it is that she seems as if she was a very smart girl before everything went down. She was on her way to maybe being valedictorian and very high up in academic world.

But then, when her brother passed, I feel as if something in her kind of wanted to fill his shoes -- the party, playboy kind of role that was left behind when he left. So in those five years, she threw herself in those shoes and now has become someone that lives a life like that. And now that her brother's come back and his whole perspective has changed, there's a level or resentment, like, "Who are you to say what I'm doing is wrong?" Because she was doing it for him.

There are a lot of things to discuss with the writers about what has gone down specifically, but altogether in the last five years, there's been a lot of drama, resentment and trying to fill a pair of shoes that was missing.

Can you tell us more about Oliver and Thea's relationship? They seem really close.
They definitely are. Before he left they were connected at the hip, even when they were kids. They were very, very close. Even though Oliver was this party crazy animal, I feel as if he took some time to spend with his sister and would make her feel special before he disappeared. So their relationship was very, very strong when all that went down. And then when he comes back, that level of resentment puts a struggle in their relationship. But regardless, it's still very strong and they're just trying to find a median.

He's trying to be very overprotective, as is she, because he doesn't even know what he's getting himself into. It's been five years since he disappeared. He doesn't know how the world has changed because it changes drastically even in six months, so in five years, a lot can happen.

Will Oliver open up to her about what he experienced on the island?
She definitely tries. She's very adamant about trying and is very let down when he doesn't open up. She's very hurt over it because they used to have such an open relationship and now it seems like that's not the case. And understandably so because he has this whole secret identity that he's trying to keep under wraps, but she has no idea about that. So all she's seeing is a brother who just comes back after five years and does nothing but judge her. She just feels very insecure.

At the end of the pilot, we learn something horrible happened to Oliver and Thea's dad. Will he tell her the truth about that?
She doesn't know as of yet, as much as we've shot so far. But when it does come to light -- and I have a feeling it will -- I don't think it's going to be taken lightly.

Had you read any of the comic books before filming "Arrow"?
I unfortunately haven't. I wish that I could say that I have. But I had heard about Green Arrow. I mean, it's a very famous comic book character. He's part of the Justice League so how could you grow up in the '90s and not know anything about the Justice League? [Laughs.]

Comic books fans are obviously very excited for this.
They're very enthusiastic, to say the least, about the show. And that's what makes me so excited about this piece altogether. Unlike most television shows, it's something that already from the start has a huge fan base. People are already excited and they don't know anything about it -- but they know what it's based on.

Is there pressure in that, too -- being part of a show with a built-in fan base who want to preserve the original?
Oh, yes. There's a lot of pressure. There's a lot of pressure from the fans, but all I can say is that we've worked our asses off in the last couple months and I think they're going to be quite happy with the pay-off.

I'm sure they will be happy to hear Oliver call Thea Speedy in the pilot. Is that a hint of what's to come?
Yeah, it'd like to say that it is. I don't exactly know because it hasn't come to light yet. The first season of a show, especially when it's the origin of a comic book character, there's a lot of levels that need to be explained and things that need to be put into place before characters are fully formed. So we haven't even begun to necessarily get into Speedy, but I feel like it's around the corner.

Was that part of what excited you about this role -- the possibility of becoming an action hero?
Oh, that's the reason why I was so excited. Before I even picked up the script, they said, "This may be what happens with the Speedy character," before I even got cast in the role. So when I looked at the script, it was already something that was in my mind, like, "Ooh! This character turns into a super hero?" And then when I read the script, I was like, "Oh, yes. I definitely want to be a part of this." Because it's very in depth and I enjoy that. It's taking its time, which I like. It's something that films can't do because they don't have enough time to do and a lot of TV shows don't take the time to. So it's nice to have.

Have you ever shot a bow and arrow before?
I haven't yet, but let's just keep our fingers crossed. [Laughs.]

You had taken a break from TV after being on a lot of different shows. What was it about "Arrow" that made you come back?
Every pilot season since I worked on "The O.C." I get a lot of TV scripts. The last couple years, I've been waiting for something to pop out. There have been a few things, but not necessarily with good enough, solid roles for someone in my age group. I've just been waiting for something to pop and this one, when I put it down, I mean, sure, it's not exactly the biggest character in the series by any means, but I couldn't care less because she's going to kick ass and I cannot wait. The show, regardless, is just amazing. I was enamored with the script and I very much wanted to be a part of it.

"Arrow" premieres on Wed., October 10 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW

Arrow

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