WonderCon 2013: CourtneyK Focuses on ARROW

IMG_0001The action packed comic based show ARROW on the CW has become a hit, much to my giddy delight! The showcasing of the Green Arrow character aside, there’s some great character development in the supporting cast. Recently I was privileged enough to participate in the Press Round Table for ARROW at WonderCon 2013 in Anaheim, California. A conversation with Willa Holland (Thea Queen), Colin Donnell (Tommy Merlyn), Paul Blackthorne (Det. Quentin Lance) and Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim? DON’T MIND IF I DO!

Executive producer Marc Guggenheim: (referring to the finale) It’s done! We hit send on the email to the studio sending them the Finale on Saturday!

CourtneyK: Yesterday??
MG: Was that only yesterday? Yes! It was only yesterday *waves hands around his head* No conception of time.

IMG_0006Question: Are Island flashbacks going to be part of the show permanently?
MG: Our original plan was to do 5 years on The Island. You know, 5 years of story, 5 years of television. The last Island flashback would be him hitting the bonfire and signaling the boat just like the pilot opens. So that the last moment of the Series would be the first moment of the series. Now that’s all assuming a 5 year trajectory for the show, but I honestly don’t know how long the show’s going to run! If it runs more than 5 years we’ll have to reassess our plan just for a quality problem. I don’t want to artificially stretch out the amount of flashback time we have. We originally thought of 5 years, but the plan is to keep the flashbacks coming for the duration for sure.

Question: You’ve signed on 3 new series regulars for next season, does that imply that there’s anybody on their way out at the end of this year?
MG: No, it just implies that we have a lot of really, really talented actors that we wanted to nail down and I will say, a studio that was really generous with their money, you have to pay all these people! We got really lucky, of the three we never planned on, we didn’t know that Felicity [Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak] would even be a part of the show; she wasn’t originally conceived in the show. We never expected to bring Roy [Colton Haynes as Roy Harper] on so quickly. We realized halfway through the season that it would be very helpful to have a series regular on The Island just in terms of producing the show week in and week out. But it’s really a reflection that we have Embarrassments of Riches in terms of actors and money.

Question: In the comic book terms, with Green Arrow, the problem can be how do we get viewers to relate to him because he sort of uses “silly arrows” and things? [TRUST AND BELIEVE, I gave some side-eye to the “silly arrows” question…]
MG: Well we’ve avoided the “silly arrows” (referring to the tendency of GA to have “trick arrows” that did anything from dispersing glue, smoke, tear gas, fire extinguishing, time bomb and kryptonite arrows, causing less damage and being more for function than for fighting), I think the advantage we have in the television show over the comic book version is that we created a whole cast of characters around Oliver that help make him more relatable. Truth be told, in the comics, Green Arrow basically had Black Canary and that was the extent of his supporting cast. He’s had Roy, too, but we went through great lengths to give him a sister, a best friend, a mother, Diggle; he doesn’t have any of those things in the comics and when you talk about what makes the character relatable I think it’s the people around him that make that possible.

IMG_0009WELL HE’S NOT WRONG!  The supporting cast has amazingly in-depth storylines of their own! For example:

Willa Holland (Thea Queen, sister to Oliver): I’m waiting for the day that the Arrow is put into my hand, guys! I’m adamant and ready to do so and I think we’re getting closer every day! But I think that the show is doing something, the writers and producers and I very much agree with what they’re doing, I think they are trying to instill the characters a little bit more before taking them on these different paths? There have obviously been hints to me being Speedy and Laurel becoming Black Canary, but Oliver went through 5 years of a very traumatic event! So there’s a lot of things that brought him into becoming Arrow, so it would almost be throwing that away if we didn’t do justice to everybody else becoming those characters. It wouldn’t do justice to him! It gives us an option to really dig in and go through emotional and dramatic stuff with our characters.

CourtneyK: You’ve had a really busy season so far! The drug overdose, your stepdad got kidnapped, you got mugged, I mean my gosh!
WH: Yeah! There’s a LOT of stuff going on! She’s not just sitting at the house anymore! It’s been good! I’m really happy that they started writing her “outside the mansion” and all that; things are getting really good for Thea! I like to hope that she’s on a path finally!

Speaking of men on a path: both Colin DonnellIMG_0004 and Paul Blackthorne’s characters have had the paths yanked out from under them this season!

Colin Donnell (Tommy Merlyn): There’s always a surprise to what you think is going to happen! You see a total shift in episode 16 {Dead to Rights, *spoiler* where it’s revealed to Tommy that Oliver is the hooded vigilante}, all of a sudden nothing is the same anymore and that carries us through the rest of the season. There’s a break there! It’s irreparable! I don’t know if Tommy ever gets over it.

CourtneyK: *timidly* Are he and Laurel going to get past it? [referring to the rift between paramours Tommy and Laurel, because Tommy is “lying” about something to Laurel, it’s a typical television couplehood ending fight!]

CD: *clears throat, chuckles* That’s a good question! [Starts to fidget a little, I’M ONTO SOMETHING HERE!!] You’re gonna see in 19-23, all that stuff with the three of us (Laurel, Oliver and Tommy) is going to come to a head! There’s some good stuff coming!

Question: With the most recent episode, Tommy is going back to work for his Dad, how’s that going to work out?
CD: That’s one of the big things; Tommy coming back into the Merlyn fold and that’s one of my favorite scenes, it’s such a simple scene but he gives his dad a hug.

CourtneyK: WELL it’s Barrowman, how do you not hug BARROWMAN???
CD: *laughs* It’s true! With those blue eyes, he’s so dreamy! We have a blast! In episode 16 with that huge action sequence, we’re running up an escalator which was on, and we’d [go back and] go again but come down the escalator like Musical Comedy Act and cracking everybody up! We come from the same sort of background so we keep things light and when it’s time to work, it’s time to work.

CourtneyK: Is Tommy going to get more action sequences?
CD: In episode 20, actually! There’s going to be some more action-y stuff for Tommy and Laurel!

IMG_0012And no stranger to action-y stuff, Paul Blackthorne is dangerously charming in person and seriously intense in his character Detective Quentin Lance:

Question: With the reunion of his wife {Alex Kingston, LOOOOVE HER!} do you think it was an intentional choice to have Quentin like, cleaned up, smiling, happy, clean shaven, etc?
Paul Blackthorne (Det. Quentin Lance): *quietly to himself* Was I clean shaven? I dunno, but I think it was actually! It just was! It’s probably the least heavy he’s ever been, I mean he’s spent 5 years completely in pieces really, the last 3 years since he last heard from his wife; and just for that moment for them to almost return to those old days that happen very effortlessly and it reminded himself he’s a human being after all. But it’s been a long time. And then she ran off again! *laughs*

Question: When you and Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance) do a lot of scenes together, there’s a lot of intensity, how to you prep for that?
PB: We talk about it; we talk about our relationship and our history as a family. I think it’s important to do that, and Katie as well; and it helps! Especially when it’s such heavy history between them [as father and daughter].

Question: Is he aware of all the crimes going on in The Glades right now?
PB: Yes, he’s a detective *gets laugh from entire table* he goes to work each day ‘Is anything going on? Oh there’s crime!’ He is aware, obviously this Glades thing has been an ongoing problem for many moons.

Question: With the ever changing scripts, how do you prepare when you’re developing your character when the show is so complex?
PB: The one thing with TV is you never know what the writers are going to come up with next, you could take an episode or two and figure ‘oh maybe he’d do this or feel this way about himself’ and then episodes later it turns out he’s an axe murderer! So you kinda *smacks forehead* ‘Oh that’s going to mess with my backstory somewhat! ADAPT!!’ It’s just one of those things!

{Yes, Mr. Blackthorne, it most certainly is just one of those things and you always pull it off brilliantly!}

IMG_0010With the press roundtables ending swiftly, {so swiftly I didn’t get a chance to speak with the star of the show Stephen Amell but it’s ok, it happens!} my head was dancing with giddiness! When I first learned of Arrow last year, I’ve been of the mind that Arrow was dark horse and it was going to have a hard time gaining ground with the audience, but I am VERY PLEASED that the studio has given it full backing and the viewership has jumped on board!

We’ve got LOTS to see with this first season, bring on the next episode! I’ll be watching!