This past Saturday night the executive producers – Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisburg – of the hot new CW drama Arrow as well as cast members Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey and Susanna Thompson were honored at this year’s PaleyFest.
As is the norm for the annual fete, the panel opened with a greeting from one of the bigwigs at the Paley Center for Media quickly followed by Marc and Andy taking the stage to introduce a sizzle reel (and that it did!), featuring clips of future episodes that ended with a tantalizing scene between The Huntress aka Helena Bertinelli (returning guest star Jessica De Gouw) and Detective Quentin Lance (recurring actor Paul Blackthorne) that – needless to say – will surprise everyone who sees the episode when it airs.
To start off the panel, once the creative team and cast got settled into their chairs, Greg was asked by moderator Geoff Johns, Chief Creative Officer for DC Entertainment, why bring Green Arrow to television. Greg shared that he felt that the character was ripe for a TV show and that the possibility of doing an origin story that could be told over multiple years rather than only a few hours (if done as film) held great appeal for him and the other executive producers.
Of course, the casting of the show was going to be very important; and when the time came for Marc and Andy to start the process of finding their lead actor, Greg told them to simply come by his office when they felt they found the right guy. Surprisingly, it took only 10 minutes for Stephen, who was one of the first actors the duo saw during the first round of casting, to impress them enough to knock on Greg’s door. And, then Greg joked that Stephen didn’t even need to take off his shirt to prove that he would be more than capable of pulling off the role.
The conversation then veered over to all the stunt work involved in the show with Stephen stating the coordinators work out a lot of sequences using mini toy cars and that the stunt team will actually shoot video of the action sequences to review before the stunts are actually filmed for the show. Greg countered that Stephen does a lot of his own stunts (as much as the studio will permit); and even shared that he was presented with a video of the now-famous salmon ladder climb from the pilot, thinking it was one of the stuntmen doing the workout when in fact it was actually Stephen himself; again proving that he can handle the rigors of the role.
When asked about his role of John Diggle, who is not a part of the DC Comics world, David shared that he has a bit more freedom with his character than the others, but he does always “look at the back of scripts to see if he dies”. All joking aside, though, he shared that “the writers have a clear cut life for Diggle and I’m in excellent hands”. He further stated – jokingly, of course, “I trust them not to kill me”.
As fans know, Laurel’s long-estranged mother (played by the amazing Alex Kingston of Doctor Who fame) returned to town, bearing the message to her daughter that she believes her deceased sister is actually still alive. Katie stated that “she is still trying to wrap her head around” that revelation.
Meanwhile, Susanna was asked about the love-hate feelings that many viewers have of her character, Moira, Oliver’s mother, sharing that she calls Moira “the mother of mystery”, but in her own mind she “has created her own back-story” (for Moira). And she also shared that Moira has “been put between a rock and a hard place (because of) making a deal with the devil”.
The night couldn’t have been complete without talk of Felicity (now series regular Emily Bett Rickards), the loveable IT girl, who has been Oliver’s “go-to” girl recently brought into his tight circle of those who know his true identity. Felicity was originally meant to be a “one-off” character, appearing once and then she’s gone. But, fans loved her so much as did the cast and creative team that they kept finding new stories for which to involve her.
Sadly, the evening then had to come to an end but not before about a dozen audience members had a chance to ask some questions, including whether Arrow will visit other cities in the DC universe (the answer is yes: Bludhaven, anyone?!); if more will be revealed about Speedy (Roy Harper aka now series regular Colton Haynes) and Black Canary (the eventually identify of Laurel Lance (the creative team were hesitant to say too much, but they did agree that “an evolution of those characters has to be earned”); how much training Stephen had with the archery prior to filming starting 7 months ago (he said he trained for a month before the pilot and has an archery expert regularly on hand, but that some of the actual archery work is adding in later) and if there were a push-up battle between David and Stephen, who would win (the answer was that they weren’t going to show off at that night’s event, but they would do the challenge one day on set and include it on the DVD extras).
Fans should take note that the cast and creative team behind the show will be making an appearance at WonderCon in Anaheim at the end of this month and plans are underway for them to also make a return visit to the San Diego Comic Con this coming July.
The next new episode of Arrow (which is the big return after its short spring break) will air on Wednesday, March 20 at 8/7c on The CW.
NOTE: All pictures are copyrighted to the Paley Center for Media and Kevin Parry.