Recommended second chance
A new eight-part US series, based on the Green Arrow comic books, follows the (literal) fortunes of billionaire Oliver Queen who, after being marooned on a mysterious island for five years, returns home determined to use his newly acquired archery skills to fight crime. TV Choice talks to Arrow's star Stephen Amell…
The stunts in Arrow are spectacular. Does it take a long time to do those scenes?
Erm, yeah! Our stunt coordinator JJ, and our fight coordinator James Bamford — he goes by the name Bam Bam, appropriately — they have a really good knack for finding practical ways to do things, which lines up with the tone of the show. And when they’re teaching me, the first thing they focus on is not the intricacy of the moves and the safety of the fight, but the intention behind it. In the same way I would prepare for a dramatic scene, they help me prepare for the fight scenes. And I think that beyond the choreography, the fact there’s intention behind it and it’s not just action for action’s sake is what elevates them.
What do you mean by ‘intention’?
Well, there’s always a reason to fight — we don’t fight just to fight. You know, if there was no reason then you’d run away. So they’re always just ramming into my head that, ‘When you punch this guy or kick this guy, you’re doing it for this reason’. It doesn’t always have to be fast. Sometimes it can be slow and it doesn’t always have to be methodical. Sometimes it can be mean. That colours the fight in a good way.
When you went for this role, did they say at the beginning they wanted you to do this much action? Or is it something that developed when they realised what you could do?
A little bit of both. There was a funny sequence where I went in and auditioned for David Nutter, who directed the pilot, our casting director and a couple of the producers and when it finished I felt very good about it and emboldened enough to ask questions. ‘What are you guys envisioning for the show?’ It was then I realised what I had in my head lined up with what they were thinking, which was a nice scenario. As I got into training they became aware of what I can do and started asking me to try things. They probably thought that I was being pushy in the audition, just saying anything to get the part. But I wasn’t. I remember telling them, ‘I want to do something physical’. You know, while I’m still young and nothing hurts, and all that stuff. I want to push myself and try something.
That’s going to be gruelling, isn’t it, across a whole series?
Well, yes. The difference getting into the series is I had almost a whole month of prep before the pilot episode. Now we’re into the episodic element, we have less time to shoot the episodes and, unfortunately, because I’m working all the time, there are moments where I can’t get in there and I can’t practise enough, so doing the sequence wouldn’t be safe. That has been difficult for me at times, but in the same way I trust our directors and our camera crew and the producers, I do very much trust Simon Burnett, my stunt double, and James Bamford and JJ — knowing that those guys are going to fight to get me into something if they think they need it. If they can’t, they can’t. It’s just the logistics of television.
You’ve got to be pragmatic.
Yes. And they’re right. During the [aborted] Wonder Woman pilot a few years ago, [star] Adrianne Palicki sprained her ankle randomly, and they had to shut down production. So they do have to be careful, I understand. It doesn’t mean that I like it, but I understand.