Actor Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver Queen on the hit CW series Arrow, is definitely a convention favorite. A passionate fan himself, during his NerdHQ panel in San Diego, he was charming and engaging, paying special attention to fans who were dressed in costume and even breaking into song.
During the conversation, Stephen Amell talked about David Ramsey’s salmon ladder video, who he most enjoyed working with on the Legends of Tomorrow promo, working with The Flash star Grant Gustin, what he most enjoys about the Oliver-Felicity relationship, how Oliver and Diggle might react to Supergirl, his desire to do a giant DC Super Friends cross-over, what a cross-over with the Winchester brothers from Supernatural might look like, deleted dream sequences, the toughest death scene to shoot, the most challenging stunt he’s had to do, and what he might be doing with the WWE. Here are the highlights of the chat.
His rebuttal to David Ramsey’s salmon ladder video:
STEPHEN AMELL: So, for those who don’t know, someone said, “Who’s better at the salmon ladder, you or David Ramsey?” And I said, “Well, David Ramsey can’t do the salmon ladder because I’ve never seen him do it. He’s welcome to prove me otherwise.” So, he did it two or three months ago, but for some reason, waited until two or three days ago to put a video on YouTube. I don’t really have a response. Let’s see him do it while doing a monologue, and then doing it like eight times in a row. That’s a very small sample size for Mr. Diggle.
Who he most enjoyed working with for the Legends of Tomorrow promo:
AMELL: Victor Garber. I love Victor Garber so much. It’s Grant [Gustin] and I on the rooftop, and I start it off. Victor Garber had the first line, so when they were setting the camera up on me, he was standing right there. He looked at me and said, “Stephen, what the fuck am I doing here? I should be sitting by a fire, drinking wine and reciting dialogue directly to camera. But no, I’m on a rooftop in Vancouver and it’s raining. So, I’ll ask you again, what the fuck am I doing here?” Two seconds after he finished that, I had to start saying my dialogue. So, if you see Oliver crack a smile for the first time in three seasons, you can thank Victor Garber.
When he found out that Caity Lotz’s character would be resurrected for the spin-off series:
AMELL: The spin-off got pitched to me when we were somewhere in the middle of Season 3. They told me some of the characters that were coming along, and I was fired up. I thought that Caity did such a wonderful job in Season 2, and for a very brief moment in Season 3, as Canary, and Caity is wonderful, so I was excited to have her back. And I’m excited to see her reintroduced to the world, so to speak.
Funny stories or moments from working with Grant Gustin on the cross-over episodes:
AMELL: Most of them I can’t share. It mostly just revolves around how cool all of it is. When we did the original appearance in his pilot, it was fun to see how he had grown and been educated, just in the time that he had been shooting the pilot. And then, when I finally got to go onto his set, on Episode 8 of their first season, the mood, the temper and the tempo of a show really tends to reflect off of the person who is the lead, and Grant is such a kind, good-natured, enthusiastic individual. I’m old and grumpy. Meanwhile, everyone over on The Flash is smiling. He really took that show by the reigns and did an exceptional job. That would be my fun story with Grant.
How he feels about Olicity winning Ship of the Year at the MTV Fandom Awards:
AMELL: I was really excited. Truth be told, I don’t follow the mentions line on Twitter that much because I don’t think that it’s the most healthy place for someone with a lot of followers to read feedback. But, I’m aware of Teen Choice and MTV Fandom. Emily [Bett Rickards] and I were super excited. I was scrolling through Twitter last night and I saw that we’d won. So, everybody who spent time voting, and everyone who has become such an awesome fan of the show, in general, it’s so appreciated.
His favorite part of playing the Oliver-Felicity relationship:
AMELL: That the scenes always tend to be different, by the time we play them, than they are when they’re written on the page. Not that the writing isn’t excellent and the storytelling isn’t cool, because it is, but we always tend to find little nooks and crannies that make our relationship resonate with people.
How Oliver and Diggle would react to Supergirl:
AMELL: We’ve seen how Diggle reacts to speed. I can’t imagine how he’d react to somebody flying. Our director of photography, Glen Winter, directed the Supergirl pilot and is directing the second episode. I’m very excited to see it, and hopefully I’ll meet Melissa [Benoist] this weekend. I’ve heard very good things. But the coolest thing for me is that Glen, who had directed episodes of Smallville, directed Episode 116 of Arrow and came up with a lot of concepts that have stayed constant, throughout the show, like the idea of transition shots between the present and the flashbacks, and then the flashbacks and the present. He went on to direct important episodes for us. And he went on to direct really important episodes of The Flash. So, when the time came for the Supergirl pilot, Greg Berlanti brought him to the people at CBS and said, “This is your guy,” and they took a look at those episodes and went, “Yes, he is.” I’m just so happy for him. That’s the best part of the whole Supergirl experience. So hopefully, at one point or another, DC television gets to do one giant conglomerate cross-over, like a Super Friends type of thing.
How this version of Arrow compares to the version that was on Smallville:
AMELL: Well, I think he’s a little bit meaner. That’s for sure. He’s certainly stronger. The Green Arrow on Smallville, Justin Hartley, who’s a buddy of mine, did an excellent job, and I know that he did an excellent job because when I got cast as Arrow, I got a lot of people going, “I’ll never watch it! We wanted Hartley! I’ve seen the pilot, and we still want him!” Okay. But the main thing is that he was a peripheral character on Smallville. He was a regular, but he was a peripheral character. We really get a chance to get into the Oliver Queen backstory that we tell over the course of our first three seasons, and hopefully in our fourth season, and then our fifth season. We really get a chance to see the Arrow character evolve from one thing in the first season, to another thing in the second season, to someone who really didn’t know what he was in the third, and we get to continue that evolution. If you’re interesting in the origin story of The Arrow, hopefully maybe one day turning into the Green Arrow, then maybe you’ll like this show. If you don’t, then whatever.
Where he fits into the nerd community and what he nerds out about:
AMELL: I’ve always been crazy about Mad Men, which I know isn’t necessarily a Comic-Con show. I love that show. I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan. I love Game of Thrones. I’m always so fired up when people die because that element of storytelling and risk is just so refreshing
What a cross-over with the Winchester brothers from Supernatural could look like:
AMELL: I think undoubtedly, it would be sunnier. I don’t know. They’re in Season 11, so they’d have to travel way back in time. That would be great. We’re both so busy, I don’t think we could ever do a full-scale Arrow/Supernatural cross-over, but I would love to be a bartender in an episode. I’d do a full non-speaking role, walking up with a beer for Jensen [Ackles] and Jared [Padalecki], and then leaving. And then, if they came on Arrow, they are welcome to play Thug #5 and Thug #6.
His favorite music to listen to in the car:
AMELL: I listen to Eminem in the car. I’m on a big Eminem kick right now.
His go-to karaoke song, and Oliver’s:
AMELL: I have songs that I like, but my go-to when I really want to shake things up is “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera. They have it, but no one ever sings it. I’ll be in these run down karaoke bars and I’ll hand it in, and the guy will go, “Really?!” And I go, “I’ll win the crowd over with this one. Don’t worry.” I’ll throw out some Zac Brown Band, some Beatles or some Sinatra. I feel like Oliver’s go-to song would be something from grunge era rock in early ‘90s Seattle. Now, maybe it would be “Oh What A Night,” or something.
His previous musical theater:
AMELL: I played Tony in West Side Story in high school. And I played a character in The Fantasticks. And I played somebody in H.M.S. Pinafore.
Whether he might be able to work a musical show in, in his future:
AMELL: I had four days off, this year. I wrapped Arrow on April 20th. And then, I started Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on April 27th. I wrapped that on Tuesday, as in this past Tuesday. And then, I’m going back to Arrow on Monday.
Deleted scenes that he wishes would have made the cut:
AMELL: We have filmed dream sequences at the beginning of the last two finales, and neither one of them made it into the show, and they were long scenes to film. If you knew the production schedule on Arrow, you don’t have a lot of wiggle room to do an extra scene. When I was on Turtles, the producers were like, “Hey, we noticed something yesterday. We wrote a brand new scene and we’re filming it on this day.” We don’t have that luxury on Arrow. I was disappointed that they didn’t go in for that reason because we put good time to them that we could have put to other things. I was also disappointed because I thought that they added a mystical dream-like element that we don’t often see on this show.
What those dream sequences were:
AMELL: I think there’s a deleted scene on the Season 2 DVD/Blu-ray where Slade is about to kill Moira and I stop him, in this dream sequence, and I murder him. That took a long time to shoot because we had to recreate a bunch of elements in that scene. This year, there was a scene with Emily and I in the car that played a lot like that scene at the end, but turned very nightmarish. It’s what snapped me out of my slumber, and then I’m on the plane with Ra’s. So, if you wonder why I’m sleeping, it’s because we shot a dream sequence at the beginning of the episode. Oh, and the scene when Oliver and Tommy kiss never made it either.
The death scene that was hardest to shoot:
AMELL: I can’t really choose between Tommy and Moira. Colin [Donnell] and I spent more time together, and I remember being more affected by the news that his character was going to die because I’d never experienced that before. That scene was really difficult to shoot. And the scene with Moira was a more arduous scene to shoot because I was tied up at my hands and ankles. They tied me up like an actor they didn’t want to injury, and I told them they actually had to tie me up because I needed to strain against it. So, I was just laying on the ground for hours. It’s just not a lot of fun when you’re working with someone a long time, and they become friends and family, and then you lose them. It’s really difficult.
The craziest stunt he’s had to do:
AMELL: Probably in the second season, when I swung down from a tree to zip Emily off of a landmine. I was 60 feet in a tree and they wanted to have a stuntman do it, and I yelled at them. I was like, “There’s just no chance. I’m doing it shirtless. You can’t body double me. Take it!” That stuff happens every day on our show. I just shot an action sequence in New York for five straight days, with all the guys who do Fast & Furious, and it was insanity. It was so cool. I can’t wait for people to see it.
The character he’d want to play, if there’s a second season of Con Man:
AMELL: Because this person exists at cons, I will play the guy who’s only ever done movies, who’s doing his first con, who shows up from 11 to 1 on Sunday, treats everyone like shit, and then leaves. As he’s walking out, people are throwing shit at him and it’s brutal, and he turns around and busts out a stylized version of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid.
Wrestling Stardust at Summer Slam:
AMELL: I’m not not going to wrestle Stardust at Summer Slam, and I know that double negatives in the English language are a no-no. I am probably going to do some stuff with the WWE. I don’t know if that means wrestling in a match, but we’ll see. I don’t know if it’s going to be wrestling.
Whether he’d be playing his character, or a new one:
AMELL: I can’t talk about it.