Emily Bett Rickards Talks ARROW, Becoming a Series Regular, Creating Her Character’s Backstory, Felicity’s Involvement Going Forward, Fandom and Romance

     April 24, 2013


With just three episodes left until the Season 1 finale of The CW drama series Arrow, things are about to get epic, and there are sure to be twists and turns and shocking reveals, as everything is coming to a head.  With life-threatening decisions, extreme danger, sacrifices and huge life questions, not everyone might make it out alive.

During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, actress Emily Bett Rickards (who plays IT girl extraordinaire, Felicity Smoak) talked about her journey this season, what it was like to go from being hired to do one episode to getting bumped up to series regular, how she created her character’s backstory, how much more involved Felicity will get before the end of the season, what she’d like to learn about her character in Season 2, that she’d love to get more involved in the action, why she thinks people are rooting for a romantic relationship between Felicity and Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), aka Arrow, and which villain she’d love to see Felicity come face-to-face with.  Check out what she had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.

emily-bett-rickardsCollider:  You got the news that the show was picked up for a second season, and that you would be bumped up to a series regular.  What has this journey been like for you? 

EMILY BETT RICKARDS:  It’s grand, in all senses of the word.  It’s fantastic, and I’m elated.  It’s also a big deal.  I just feel really honored that I get to explore the character for a little longer.  That’s the dream.  I actually get to live a character.  I have to say goodbye to her for a little bit.  I’m on break from her for three months, but I haven’t really said goodbye.  Sometimes I find myself shopping and I’m trying something on that’s so not me.  It’s weird. 

It must also be exciting to know you’ll get to explore some of the things there wasn’t time for in Season 1.

RICKARDS:  Oh, absolutely!  Even half-way through the season, I’d learned so much about her.  And now that I’ve finished the season, I learned more things about her, and learned things about myself, too.  It’s so interesting.  It’s a psychological trip, really.  It’s awesome! 

What are you hoping to learn about Felicity, in Season 2?

RICKARDS:  I’m excited to learn more about her backstory.  I have my own, but it’s not necessarily valid.  I’m excited to learn about her family life.  I hope that will come into play, in the second season. 

Were you told any of her backstory, or did you just come up with one yourself?

emily-bett-rickards-arrowRICKARDS:  No, I do it for myself, just so I know.  I do certain things.  I’m always interested to meet my friends’ parents, or who they were raised by.  Where they grew up, I always find very interesting.  So, the big things I went through were, “Maybe her parents did this.  What makes her socially awkward?  Why was she always into computers?  Why was she drawn to technology?  Was she bullied?  Did she like high school?  Did she go to college?  Where did she go to college?”  I do that sort of thing, which can always change.  And whether or not the location changes or her experience might change, she became who she is in the show, and I think that there’s always a way to connect it and find the map. 

If you create your own backstory like that, is it difficult to lose some aspects of that, that turn out to not be a part of who she is? 

RICKARDS:  It’s interesting.  I haven’t had the experience of losing something that I’m attached to.  It’s more about adding to it, like she’s allergic to nuts or she’s afraid of kangaroos. 

arrow-emily-bett-rickardsWas there a moment when you realized that Felicity Smoak was such a fan favorite character?

RICKARDS:  I was told, “Oh, she’s a fan favorite,” and I was like, “Oh, that’s nice!”  But, I still don’t know what it means.  I’m beyond grateful, and it’s awesome.  I love her.  I’m just glad other people love her, too.  That’s huge for me, to be able to help create or to symbolize a strong, intelligent woman that people like.  I think that’s really important.  I was just excited when they brought me back for a second episode.  And then, they brought me back a third time and I was like, “Oh, this is really nice of them!”  I was so excited to go back and work with people I really like. 

When you originally auditioned, was it just for one episode?

RICKARDS:  Yeah.  I auditioned for Episode 3.  I had two scenes in that.  So, I just went in for one day, and people were kind enough to bring me back. 

What can you say to tease what’s to come for Felicity, in the remaining episodes?

RICKARDS:  Things are going to get a little more rocky.  There will be some turbulence.  Buckle your seatbelt, everybody.  The episodes are big.  The last two episodes are massive with extreme danger.  They’re full of life-threatening decisions and sacrifice and huge life questions.  We get to see Felicity out in the field again, before the season ends.  We get to see her sort of meet other characters, but not really.  And I think what’s really interesting with Felicity is that, in each episode, she shrugs off one more restriction that was keeping her held back.  By Episode 23, you see her just completely involved and exhausted.  She just can’t go back.

Do you think she enjoys getting out in the field, or is she reluctant about having to do that?

emily-bett-rickards-arrow-felicityRICKARDS:  I think it’s an enjoyable challenge, and a dangerous challenge.  There’s things she can do without people holding guns.  I’m sure she could do without that.  There are huge amounts of fear.  But, I think she does enjoy it.  It takes her out of her comfort zone, which we all enjoy, to a certain extent.  It takes her out from behind a computer.  Being in crowded situations is not exactly her forte. 

Would you personally like to get more involved with the action?

RICKARDS:  Absolutely!  I love doing that.  I was always very physical, growing up, and did sports.  I like to get out and do different things, and walk in different shoes.  I like change.  I like challenge.

Felicity has brought a really fun female energy, especially when she’s in the Arrow cave with Oliver and Diggle.  Is it fun to get to do those scenes, with the three of you together?

RICKARDS:  Yeah.  David [Ramsey] and Stephen [Amell] are hilarious to work with.  I really have to brush up on my sports intelligence, as me, Emily, because they’re super educated in sports.  But, we always have so much fun in the foundry.  It’s usually foundry Fridays.  It’s changed a little bit, but working in the foundry is always fun.  We have a blast!  The scenes become really organic and they flow now because we’re really used to being in there.  Each director has a different view of the foundry, and different angles and things, so it’s interesting.  Felicity is behind the desk, a lot of the time, so I like it when she’s up and moving around.  In “The Odyssey,” when she picked up the bow, that was a great episode for Felicity.  I like exploring, especially being and getting more comfortable with a character and in the space a character is always in.  You see her coat on the table because she’s there all the time.  What comes with comfortability express itself not only in the environment, but with the relationships, as well.  She’s probing at them.  She’s like, “Have emotions!  Feel connected to something, anything, at all!”  I think that’s something she’s teaching them, and they’re teaching her to become more fearless and to have balls.

arrow-tv-show-posterAre you surprised that people are rooting for a romantic relationship between Oliver and Felicity?

RICKARDS:  I’m not surprised.  She’s the underdog, and everyone likes an underdog.  People aren’t not rooting for Laurel and Oliver.  There’s the tension.  Everybody likes the tension.  The scenes Oliver and Felicity have together are always honest.  He doesn’t have to hide anything from her, which is spectacular.

Is there a villain that you’d love to see Felicity have to go up again, just to see how she gets out of it? 

RICKARDS:  Yes, Deadshot!  I would love to see how she deals with that.  What if she kills Deadshot?  How awesome would that be?!  No, that will never happen!  That would just be like, “Whoops, I did it, Diggle!”  I think that would be really cool.  I’d like to see her come face-to-face with a villain.  You do see something happen, but it would be awesome, if she could get together with Deadshot.  That would be hilarious!  That would be great! 

Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.  Click here for all our Arrow coverage.