Echo Kellum previews ARROW and the DC-verse crossover


Echo Kellum, photographed by Lesley Bryce

Echo Kellum, a standout from BEN & KATE (gone too soon) and one of my favorite guest spots on YOU’RE THE WORST (Tall Nathan of “Hey, Put That Down Brian.”), joined the ARROW team last season, and has quickly become an integral member. His Curtis Holt has a great rapport with Felicity, and it feels like he’s been there all along.

He told me when we spoke earlier this week that it felt the same for him, as an actor joining a cast this far into their run. “They were just so welcoming and open from day one, that kind of felt very seamless; almost like I’ve been there for awhile.”

Season 5 has gotten back to basics for the ARROW team – a dark superhero show that can find humor in the worst times, and we’ll see that come through in Curtis this year.  Echo added, “I think [Curtis] is one of those characters that find that positivity in any kind of situation and loves to crack a joke or two about the situation just to bring levity into it. I think that’s something that we’ll definitely see continued throughout the season…”

As Season 5 continues tonight with an all new episode (“A Matter of Trust”), read on to learn more about Echo joining the show, what to expect this season, and that small thing called an epic 4-show DC-Verse crossover coming your way soon!

Tell me a little bit about getting involved in this show, and how you came to be a part of this Arrow-verse. Were you a fan of this show? Was it just something that came across your desk? What was that process like?
I had probably seen one episode before I actually came and auditioned for it. It’s definitely a show that I should have had my radar on, but at the time I wasn’t watching a lot of TV. I was doing just comedy, live stage stuff, and whatnot. That came out around the same time my first show BEN & KATE came out. It was kind of that live comedy and whatnot. I was kind of going through those motions.

When I did a show for Warner Brothers called A TO Z, that kind of put me on their map. Then I did a pilot for CW called DEAD PEOPLE. From that they asked me to come in and audition for the role of Curtis for ARROW. I think David Rapaport thought that Emily and I would have a great rapport with each other, and in the audition, thought it was a great fit. That is how it came about. I just binge-watched the show and really, really fell in love with it, and understood what all my friends were talking about for all these months, and kind of the process of it.

What’s it like coming into a show that’s not a brand new show that you’re kind of the new guy on the scene? What’s it like going into that cast that’s been together for so many years?
I think it all depends on the cast, right? I mean for me, they were just so welcoming and open from day one, that kind of felt very seamless; almost like I had been there for awhile. They didn’t treat me different. They were almost thankful to have me on board. That felt like such a good feeling coming to a hit show and knowing you want to do the best you can to make sure the quality still where it has been to get to the point where it is. For everyone to accept you and really cherish the work that you bring to the show, it’s is such a wonderful feeling. Like I said, Emily, really set that precedent from day one in the aspect of dope, down to earth, and how kind and special she was. It just made everything really pop and from the onset made me feel like I’ve been there for years.

You mentioned obviously the comedy background. What I love about Arrow too, is that it’s dark, but there are so many opportunities for comedy. Is that something we continue to see explored; there’s a little bit of lightness that can happen in all this dark time?
Yes. I definitely think Curtis is a very optimistic person. He likes to look at the positive outlook of things. I think he’ll bring a lot of spin to it. That doesn’t mean that he won’t be challenged emotionally and have to go through his share of turmoil, or just trying to really figure out what he wants to do with his life. I think he is one of those characters that find that positivity in any kind of situation and loves to crack a joke or two about the situation just to bring levity into it. I think that’s something that we’ll definitely see continued throughout the season, but you’ll also see a lot of emotional peaks and valleys for Curtis.

What else can you tease for fans or audiences who are asking you, “What comes next? What will we see this season?”
I think one of the coolest things of this season, is seeing how the new team really collaborates with each other and seeing how each team member brings something really different and unique to the table; whether it’s Madison [McLaughlin]’s toughness but sweet demeanor, or Rick [Gonzalez]’s badass swagged-outness, or Joe [Dinicol]’s more subdued, thoughtful presence that he brings to it. I think it will be some really interesting dynamics that the fans will have a ton of fun with. It’s been so much fun shooting with them. I’m just really excited to see how we all gel with each other, to see how the new team really comes into form, how the new team interacts with the old team, and all the things like that. I think it’s going to be a real cool feeling for all of them to actually get to see these episodes coming out.

I really like how seamless it has been … bringing in the new team, interacting with the old team, and the show pushes forward. You have these new guys and these old guys … there’s something for everybody to love, I feel like.
Yeah, I definitely, 100% agree with you in that sentiment. I think that there’s so much that you can bring from any of these characters that really mesh with all of us out there. You just pick which character you feel like you fit more into. That’s one of the dopest things I think we’ve done this season with adding the new team.

Do you relate to this character? Is there something about Echo that is Curtis or Curtis is Echo? Do you hold onto something that you find in him, or is he wildly different than you are?
We definitely have a lot of similarities. I worked at Geek Squad for about four years; not that that’s comparable to being a computer engineer [laughs], in any way, shape, or form. I’m definitely very much into tech, I love being silly, and I’m actually a very positive, optimistic person, too, so I kind of gel with Curtis in a lot of aspects. We are different, but there definitely are aspects that I gel with him. I can bring a part of myself to those parts of him too.

Obviously, they’ve been doing crossovers and they are crossing over in the DC-verse now with the four shows on the network. Have you had the opportunity to work with more folks from LEGENDS and the guys from THE FLASH, SUPERGIRL? What’s that been like?
Yeah, definitely. Definitely a lot more this season than last season. I didn’t get to work with any of them except for Ray Palmer last season. Yes. Definitely. There are crossovers. You see we definitely mix it up big time. It was a blast getting to work with some of the people I worked with from THE FLASH, SUPERGIRL, and whatnot. Just seeing how all these different people from different shows just come together, how they enter the process, how it all really is just one big happy family. Seeing that there was this infectious good quality to people of these shows … I don’t know if that has to do with casting or whatnot, but, you definitely find something in the people that they cast that it’s really unique and humbling and awesome about them in their personal lives that makes you really want to gel with them as people. I think that’s maybe credit to David Rapaport, or WB in general. It’s really great to have worked with a lot of those people, to really start just gelling with each other, and really building something together.


Echo Kellum, photographed by Lesley Bryce

I think it’s interesting that the TV world is kind of going back. We used to have crossovers I think back in the day so many times of different shows and now it’s being really embraced again. I think fleshing out the universe, we get to learn so much about so many characters.
Yeah, yeah. I love that aspect. I was always one for the crossovers of shows. I always wanted to do a BEN & KATE and NEW GIRL crossover, but then they did the BROOKLYN NINE-NINE crossover. I was like, “That was supposed to be us!” I always thought that when shows do that, and play with the world and see characters from other worlds come in … that’s something that comic books have been doing for years and years and years and years … decades even. I think that it’s just lovely to see two characters from two totally different platforms come together and see how they interact and what they deal with. I think that this four-crossover is something that’s never been done before. I think fans are really going to gel with what they get and really be proud the time we’re living in, where we can have something like this be brought through the TV. It’s just a great time to be alive for nerds. I’m happy that I can play any part in that.

How has the interaction with them been since you joined the show? Since the season started?
They’ve been overwhelmingly positive, absolutely. I think that was the biggest surprise for me, was seeing how passionate and vocal they were. The fact that they really embraced it as well was very cool. Definitely I would say 95% of every day, the fans are very positive, and really awesome things to hear from them.

Right, and I mean social media, obviously has changed the way people watch TV, and how invested people get. There’s always fandoms, but I feel it’s on a whole other level these days. They are so passionate that it’s got to be kind of intense, I think, sometimes be a part of that.
Yeah, I mean they can be a little bit sometimes!  The thing that seems to be the case, is that most of the people are really positive about the praise and really thoughtful about their criticism, generally. I’m mean obviously you have trolls [laughs] and people who say mean things just to say mean things, which is how their life works. I feel like the majority of people are kind of sensible and understanding and get it. They might have issue with some things on the show, but they are usually respectful and they are generally really appreciative when you engage them.

Why do you think that now is a good time to get involved in these shows? Why is ARROW season 5, the time to really get involved or keep watching the show?
Honestly, I think you can pick one of many areas. Whether its stunt, the action sequences, the drama, the levity, the character, the wonderful storytelling that happens. There’s so much depth, and so much wealth of information and what not to take from these comics. From a lot of the shows, they really dive into that. I’ve said this before and I truly believe that comic books have some of the best stories that we can tell. I think that these shows really help to encapsulate that story telling, that bit, and feel, and really great stuff that really can engage them. It’s fun, and awesome, and you know, just really invigorating right now.

What else besides Arrow do you have going on? I know you have some movies coming up, but what have you been working on besides this?
I have this movie coming out soon called GIRLFRIENDS DAY, starring opposite Bob Odenkirk. It’s basically about this card writer, who was one of best card writers in the world at one point. He kind of lost his flow, he was trying to get it back for this new holiday That’s out called Girlfriends Day, and I play one of his good friends from work.

Then, I have another movie coming out called VILLAGE PEOPLE. Which is about these two brother in laws kind of go out and find themselves, and the situation they get into out there. And I play the owner of the village that they come to in Nicaragua, that’s coming out. I’m doing a couple voices on RICK & MORTY this year. And I think that’s about it for right now.

Has being on ARROW, has it changed roles you’re looking for? Like you said, you were kind of in the comedy world, is it changing what you’re going out for in the future or what you really want to try next?
I mean, I think ARROW is kind of following the game plan so far. What I would love to do is emulate a career like that of Will Smith or someone like that. Or even Michael B. Jordan. I think they have really great work and I would love to do stuff like that. So it’s kind of always been the game plan, like ARROW is kind of solidifying that game plan.

But it’s because being a super hero is definitely something I wanted to do with the craft and whatnot. Actually get the to have that dream come true, like kind of other worldly, it’s very surreal. I want be huge drama, I think I want to do comedy, I’m a man who just loves the art and just want to try out different things and really take my acting to the next level and push myself and do things I’m afraid to do and just really try to bring it. And I think ARROW is such a wonderful place where everybody started to appreciate what roles I was going after for my career. To be on drama just gives you a little bit of cache and especially coming from a comedy background, so it’s a wonderful experience for me as an actor and I can’t wait to just keep progressing through my career to see what other roles I can play as well!

Are there other shows that you can’t miss or you binge watch, that you have to watch all the episodes? Is there something that you can’t miss every week?
Oh yeah. Obviously, THE WALKING DEAD, GAME OF THRONES, are two of my favorite, favorite shows. Probably of all time. Loving ATLANTA right now.

ARROW airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on The CW.