‘Arrow’ Star Katherine McNamara on the Final Season, Those Spinoff Rumors, and ‘Shadowhunters’

     November 19, 2019

The drama series Arrow will not only have been on The CW for eight seasons by the time it ends its run this season, but it also kicked off the Arrow-verse, which has led to such other TV shows as The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning and Batwoman. The story it’s been telling has seen characters come and go, timelines changed, more Earths revealed, and team-ups that have saved the planet, on more than one occasion, and it’s almost guaranteed that there will still be more triumphs and tears before the credits roll on the last episode.

Collider recently got on the phone with actress Katherine McNamara (who plays Mia Smoak Queen) to chat 1-on-1 about her run on the series, how her first day on the show compared to her last day on the show, the difference between ending her run on Shadowhunters vs. ending her run on Arrow, what she’s grown to appreciate about her character, time traveling to the past and having to face her father, going on a daddy-daughter mission to Russia (in Episode 805, “Prochnost”), what it’s been like to explore the new generation of superheroes, and the possible new Arrow spin-off, currently titled Green Arrow and The Canaries (featuring McNamara, Katie Cassidy and Juliana Harkavy).

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Image via The CW

Collider: How did your first day on the show compared to what has now been your last day on the show?

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Well, it was very different. My first day on the show, I was fighting in a cage with a black eye. And the last day on the show, I was having a very heartfelt scene with someone, having a conversation about my feelings, which is a very different road for Mia. She goes through a lot, and she grows quite a bit, over the course of the seasons. That’s been really amazing. That’s an actor’s dream is to get to play a character that actually goes somewhere.

How did ending your run on Arrow compared to ending your run on Shadowhunters? Did it feel different on Shadowhunters, since you were a lead on the show and you were there from the beginning, or is it just always hard to say goodbye to a character and a family that you create on a set?

McNAMARA: It’s always hard to say goodbye, in a sense. With Shadowhunters, it was very different, for me for a lot of reasons. I was there from day one, on that show. I built that show with that team, from the ground up and, and had such close relationships with every single person in that cast and crew, given that I basically lived on that soundstage for almost four years. But Arrow is largely the same, in that the cast and crew really is a family. While I was there for a lot shorter of a time, they loved with open arms. I had such a lovely time, getting to be a part of this story. When Shadowhunters came to a close, I never thought that I’d be a part of another story that was so iconic and had such a passionate fan base. And while Shadow Fam is for life, the Arrow-verse really has welcomed me in, as well, and the fandom has been so amazing. It means so much to be a part of a story that people care about, and to get to bear witness to something that affects people. Having been able to do that, back to back, on two different series, has been really incredible.

What have you always loved about playing Mia, and what have you grown to appreciate about her, that you didn’t necessarily know was there, when you signed on?

McNAMARA: I love how fearless she is and how much she will just jump into anything, head on. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, when it comes to a fight. But what I’ve really grown to love about her is that, as she’s gone through all of these situations and been forced to confront her biggest vulnerability, standing right in front of her, in her father, is that she might have the hardest exterior, but on the inside, she’s just a big old teddy bear. She’s just like the rest of us. She just wants a family. She just wants to be loved, and to find that connection. Getting to see her slip into that space of vulnerability is really beautiful. She’s got a big old heart under that hard exterior, and we really get to see that come out, in full force, in these last few episodes, of the season.

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Image via The CW

Obviously, Mia, William and Connor clearly didn’t expect to end up in the past, face to face with their fathers. Now that she’s maybe had a little bit of time for that to sink in, how is she dealing with that?

McNAMARA: Oh, there’s a long road ahead of us, to deal with all of that. Honestly, the biggest desire she’s had, in her life, is to have that connection with her father. And yet, his choices are also the reason, in her mind, that she’s had a difficult life. And so, she does blame him, in a sense, for all of the hardships and setbacks that she’s had. Having to deal with that is rather difficult, but when tensions run high in the multi-verse, so do emotions. Things come to a head, in a way that won’t always be amicable. In this episode, I was so excited because it’s the first time that Mia gets to show Oliver what she does best, and get to really be in her element, in the ring, and get to fight with her father. I think it surprises him, in a lot of ways, the skill set that she does have. Alternatively, Mia has just been through her biggest loss. Being one who claims that she doesn’t lose, having lost a teammate, and then having it be her fault is really jarring for her and throws her off center. So there’s a bit of a rebuilding of confidence that has to happen, in this episode, as well.

It seems like there might also be a little bit of humor involved when you end up at a fight club with your father. That’s unexpected and unusual daddy-daughter bonding.

McNAMARA: Oh, for sure. But you know ? What better for the Queen family than a little cage fight in Russia. That’ll bring the family together.

What else can you say about what we can expect from this next episode and the trip to Russia?

McNAMARA: What’s great about this is episode is that, for the first time in awhile, we get to see Mia in her element. She loves a good seedy dive bar. Russia is her wheelhouse, in a sense. She takes to it, like a fish to water ‘cause it’s where she’s comfortable. But also, she’s dealing with all of these issues. She’s on mission with her father, for the first time, and she’s having to take a little bit of a back seat, when she used to be in a leadership role. And on top of that, Oliver’s struggling with, what trust do I put in my kids vs. how do I protect them? And he’s also trying to shield a bit of his dark past from his kids, which becomes increasingly difficult, when you have two very headstrong children who don’t always follow instructions, particularly Mia. What’s great about it is that you get to see the two of them interact, and because Mia has so much of Felicity’s sense of humor, their banter is really lovely, as well. The fact that they butt heads because Oliver and Mia are so similar, it’s a very nice interplay. 

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Image via The CW

How and when did you find out about the possibility of a new Arrow spin-off (currently titled Green Arrow and The Canaries)?

McNAMARA: The spin-off was always a rumor, but so many things change, in television and in this industry. I try not to get too excited about things, until they’re actually real. But it’s been really exciting, though, to get to discover what the possibilities for the future are, and what this new world could be. I think people are going to be rather surprised by the direction that we take with it. I’m hoping for the best.

In the same way, now that you’ve come to the end of Arrow, regardless of what happens with that spin-off, do you feel like there is a sense of closure to this chapter of Mia’s life?

McNAMARA: As much closure as you can get, yes. There’s a lot that she has to work through, over the course of the next five or six episodes, depending on how you count it with the crossover. There’s a lot that happens, and it’s barely the tip of the iceberg, in Episodes 4 and 5, as to the journey that she has, to come to that sense of closure. With any series that has so many characters and so many storylines, it takes a lot to try to wrap it up. I really credit the writers for giving the show the ending that it deserves, and for really honoring everything with the entire cast and crew, but Stephen [Amell], who has built this character, the Green Arrow, and what that legacy means. It’s a really beautiful finale, and I hope people enjoy it.

What would you say Mia’s biggest strength is, and what would you say her biggest weakness is?

McNAMARA: I would say that they’re one in the same, and I think it’s her heart. There’s a reason she fights so hard for what she believes in, and there’s also a reason that she is so shaken by moments of vulnerability. She puts her all into it, and the people she loves and the things she believes in. She may have a very thick shield, but once you get past that armor, she’s just a bleeding heart, just like her father.

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Image via The CW

It’s been so fun to watch this trio of Mia, William and Connor, as this next generation of superheroes. What’s it been like to get to explore their legacy while also watching them come into their own?

McNAMARA: Well, what I love so much about this future Team Arrow aspect is that it still plays on that familiar superhero trope that Arrow audiences have come to love. You have the brooding vigilante, you have the best friend who’s the moral compass, and then you have the expert who mediates between everyone and provides a little bit of levity into the situation. But as opposed to the accepted stereotypes that would fill that role, you have a tiny blonde girl as the vigilante, and you have a villain’s son as the moral compass, and you have William who is an enigma, in and of himself, who’s the expert on the team. It really becomes a nice balance. It’s familiar but fresh, and it really turns that that classic relationship and that classic triangle on its head, in a way that’s really poignant. It’s very 2020, and it’s very 2040, as well.

Arrow airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.

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