On the next episode of The CW series Arrow, called “Canary Cry,” Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and the team are struggling to come to terms with the death of one of their own. And while Diggle (David Ramsey) is overwhelmed with guilt for the decisions that he made, Lance (Paul Blackthorne) refuses to believe his daughter is really gone and goes to Nyssa (Katrina Law) for help to bring her back.
While over coffee and tea at Central Perk on the Warner Bros. studio lot, actor Paul Blackthorne spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how Quentin Lance is coping with such tragic loss, how difficult it was to shoot the hospital scenes, having Alex Kingston back, wanting revenge on Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), turning to Nyssa for help, and what he’d like to see more of in Season 5. He also talked about his “Save the Rhino Vietnam” campaign and how everyone can help. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: After everything Quentin Lance has been through, thinking Sara was dead and then getting her back, twice, and then losing Laurel, does he have any mental sanity left?
PAUL BLACKTHORNE: None left, whatsoever, let’s face it. Obviously, in the past, Sara has come back a couple of times now. The toughest thing, beyond Laurel’s actual death, is reconciling why, even though Sara has come back before, Laurel can’t come back. Also, she was the one responsible for bringing Sara back, so why can’t someone do that for her? That’s the toughest thing for Lance.
Which was the most difficult to get through, as an actor, having the scenes in the hospital with Laurel lying there, or the funeral for Laurel?
BLACKTHORNE: It’s all miserable stuff. They say that, in acting, it’s great if you can surprise yourself, and I surprised myself. When we were shooting that scene in the hospital, it was described as, “He’s in shock and disbelief,” but I wasn’t expecting the whole idea of touching her and trying to get her to move. The thought of being in denial of her death and that whole aspect of grief coming through was extraordinary. He’s trying to wake her up and it was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s what happens with grief.” The first stage is denial and going, “Wake up!” I went deep with that stuff and was immersed into it. It was pretty heavy, but it was great writing. It was an opportunity to pick up the ball and run with it.
What was it like to have Alex Kingston back for Laurel’s funeral?
BLACKTHORNE: It’s so great that we’re on these long-running shows and there’s so much history with the characters because you can bring different characters back at different times. Obviously, it’s the funeral for our daughter, so you’d expect her to be back for it, but it’s still a bit out of the blue because it’s been a season or two. It’s an interesting choice that she was at the funeral and not Donna, but completely appropriate, I think, from a character point of view. And it’s great having her around. Alex is great to work with. It’s always nice to have a bit of fun on set with her. She’s brilliant.
How is Lance dealing with his grief? Does he have anyone that he can lean on?
BLACKTHORNE: That’s the thing that’s most devastating for Lance, with this situation. The person that got him through the previous devastation and grief has been Laurel, and she’s not around to be that person. That’s what horrifies him and scares him the most. It’s not just the grief over Laurel, but she was the person who got him through all the heavy stuff before. She has been the cornerstone of his life, so it’s pretty hard to handle the idea of life without her. But then, we’ve got this burgeoning love with Donna Smoak. There are some interesting scenes coming up, where you see that relationship developing. Laurel is no longer the woman in his life. Maybe this woman can be, obviously in a different way, but to some degree. It was nice to explore those scenes with Charlotte Ross.
Will all of this bring Lance closer with Felicity, especially considering who her father is?
BLACKTHORNE: Yeah, I think so. I think I’m the only decent father [on this show]. It would be interesting to explore that. It’s always going to tie into the storyline of Star City, but it’s nice when you see all that stuff playing out. We’ll see. I always enjoy the scenes with Emily [Bett Rickards] because she’s always an actor that surprises you with what she does. She plays around with stuff, and she’s always great to work with.
Will all of Lance’s rage and revenge be directed at Damien Darhk, or is he holding any resentment against Oliver Queen or also holding him responsible, in any way?
BLACKTHORNE: Obviously, he’s got his feelings of revenge toward Damien Darhk. I think everybody has got a bit of a bone to pick with him, haven’t they? Lance would never have any ill feelings toward Oliver for what happened to Laurel. It’s not Oliver’s fault that Darhk plunged one of his arrows into her heart. Without a doubt, all of his anger is directed at Darhk. That guy is a piece of work. And it’s funny because this was telegraphed way back when Darhk said, “I’ll kill your daughter, if you don’t do what I say.” Nobody listened. Nobody took him seriously. From a story point of view, it was telegraphed, all the way along, through the season, but it was such a massive surprise to actually see it happen. It was a pretty shocking storyline.
Will Lance directly take action to try to take out Darhk, or will he leave that to Team Arrow?
BLACKTHORNE: There is so much hot-blooded revenge in Lance’s mind, but at the same time, Darhk seems to have some peculiar magical powers. Maybe he should leave it to the guys who might have some way of dealing with it, better than Lance.
How will it be for Lance to go to Nyssa for help in bringing his daughter back?
BLACKTHORNE: It’s pretty rough for Lance. I think Nyssa has put him on the ground twice, and she’s kidnapped his ex-wife. She’s done a few dastardly things, over the years. He’s never exactly seen eye-to-eye with Nyssa, but he’s clearly gone through the Rolodex and been like, “She’s the one who knows something about the world of the Lazarus Pit, so I’ll get ahold of her.” Unfortunately, seemingly, to not much avail. But it’s another one of those great Arrow moments, where there are so many characters to draw from. Suddenly, you’ve got Lance asking Nyssa for help. I didn’t see that one coming. But he’s obviously doing everything he can to find a way to bring Laurel back, and Nyssa comes to mind, for that reason. It was a weird one, for sure.
With them all experiencing the same loss, how is Lance relating with the original Team Arrow – Oliver, Diggle and Felicity – at this point, and how are they relating with him?
BLACKTHORNE: Everybody is just trying to learn how to deal with this loss. Each year, the dynamics change. This is probably going to have much to do with setting up the next season’s dynamic between the characters. From season to season, there’s always a little subtle shift in the relationships between everybody. This is going to create a whole new world next season, given that everybody is now in a world without Laurel. It’s a game-changer, obviously, and it’s a relationship-changer, for sure.
Do you have a personal wishlist of things you’d like to see happen with Lance in Season 5?
BLACKTHORNE: I enjoyed working with Team Arrow. That was a lot of fun. Any involvement there is great. I’d love more Team Arrow. The shift in the relationship between Lance and Oliver is great. There’s an element of father figure there, but only to a degree because Oliver knows the world and Lance is just a small part of it. Lance is always going to revere him, in that sense. So, it would be nice to see some development, in that way. But, who knows? I always sit down with the producers, a week before we start shooting, and go, “Okay, what’s happening this year? Really?! It’s going to be this and it’s going to be that?! Really?!” It’s always interesting to see what each year’s dynamics are going to be about.
What is your new “Save the Rhino Vietnam” campaign and why should everyone buy a t-shirt?
BLACKTHORNE: I’ve launched another t-shirt campaign, “Save the Rhino Vietnam.” I’m doing it with Aaron Ramsey, one of my favorite footballing heroes in England, who plays for the Arsenal football team, and we’re basically going to sell as many t-shirts as we can, so that we can raise money and awareness of the fact that 90% of the rhinos that are being poached in Africa are having their horns sent to Vietnam. Ivory is harder to pin down because the biggest importer is China and the second biggest importer is America, which are huge areas. But strangely enough, 90% of the rhino horns are being sent to a relatively small country, Vietnam. So, I’m going out there on May 16th to try to spread some awareness about the whole thing, and in the weeks prior to that, as of now, we’re selling these t-shirts on www.Represent.com/SaveTheRhinoVietnam to raise as much money as we can to save these animals that have been around for 50 million years and are now ten years away from extinction, at the current rate of killing. We’re doing all we can.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.