At this summer’s Dragon Con 2014, I had the good fortune to attending the “Arrow” press conference with Paul Blackthorne (Detective Quentin Lance), Caity Lotz (Sara Lance / Canary), and Katrina Law (Nyssa al Ghul). They talked about the past season on the show and what is going to happen in the future. “Arrow” premieres Wed, Oct. 8th at 8 pm on Atlanta’s CW69.
Paul Blackthorne entered the press room and immediately took a selfie with us in attendance. Explaining that Caity and Katrina were on the way, we started the questions.
Let’s talk about your character’s journey from the original viewpoint that he had of the vigilante to the newer, more helpful detective who is now a beat cop.
Paul Blackthorne: It’s been great! That’s the glory of having a couple of seasons behind you is that you get to develop your characters in interesting ways. And obviously the way the writers write and they do it so well, with the complexity and depth that they give our characters, that from an acting point of view, all we have to do is sort of pick up the ball and say “Oh, I have a nice ball to play with.” That was quite a good analogy, wasn’t it? It’s been a lot of fun because in the past he was always a bit antagonistic in the first season. But, you know, he has some brains in his head, so by the end of 23 episodes of the show he has figured out that Arrow is doing some good for the city after all. The big earthquake at the season one finale was the turning point for Lance. It’s interesting that in the second season, though he took a hit personally and was demoted, even humiliated in a way. In his heart, he knew he had done the right thing. He could see that this guy was doing good by the city. So, in the bigger picture he could see that if he took a hit, it would do a greater good by the city. It’s nice how that dynamic has changed. And now in season three there is a slight shift in the dynamic, not only in Lance and Arrow’s relationship but also the relationship between the Starling City police department and Arrow. So, yeah, it’s been nice to get to this place in the story.
There is a rumor that you get promoted to Captain in season three. Can you tell us much about that?
Paul: Well, you know I can’t you much. I would be shot if I told you too much. There would be an arrow just flying through the room, which would end my little interview. But yeah, the dynamic does change. It’s interesting that Lance’s first speech as a captain, after all the stuff that has happened between season two and three, how Lance finally acknowledges Arrow.
Just then Caity Lotz and Katrina Law enter the press room.
Paul: Caity and Katrina. You can’t come in here darlings; I’m interviewing! The lovely ladies are here!
Caity: Did we just walk into another of Paul’s embarrassing stories?
It might be a good time to talk about the family dynamic, considering who just arrived. Would you like to talk a little about that?
Paul: You mean my daughter’s choice of a love interest? Her choice of partner in life?
Katrina: Do you approve of me?
Paul: There’s that nice moment in one of the scenes where the penny drops for Lance. What was that line that you said? I don’t remember, but I just remember my face dropping when Lance figured it out. Lance is a bit of a grumpy old fellow. But I think, even for him, even though it was a bit of a challenge for him to acknowledge the situation; he was ok with it. I think he said later in the episode “As long as you are happy I don’t care what it is. If that’s how you are happy, then fine.”
It seems that Lance is very adaptable. As the series has gone on he has accepted more and more.
Paul: I don’t think he would have been around too long if he hadn’t. Yeah, he has had to reconcile a lot of things. The way his daughters have behaved, especially this one (pointing to Caity). She’s not the same college student she was when she left. He has a bit of reconciling to do there. And there is a lot more. It’s all the great writing the staff does to make that happen.
Caity, can you tell us a little about your audition process. Did you know you were going to be Sara?
Caity: I did not know. I auditioned for a character named Lisa. The storyline was something like Arrow killed her brother because he was selling Vertigo. I remember I really liked it because the character was so strong. She was there to give the Arrow a hard time. It wasn’t like she was a weak whatever, she was a very strong character. So I auditioned, and it went badly and I thought I wasn’t going to get the part.
Paul: Those are the ones that you do get, the ones that go bad.
Caity: They just said you’re not that type.
Paul: They really said that?
Caity: Yeah, they did. But then they called up and said that they wanted to do a chemistry read with Stephen Amell. Then after that it was a long process. It was a big part, and they wanted to make sure that I fit. After they had booked me, I found out that I was going to be Sara Lance, aka Canary.
Paul: Oh, so that was a bit of misdirection so that you wouldn’t give away the storyline or anything.
Caity: I had a meeting with Andrew where they spilled the beans. And that same day, which was Comic Con weekend, it leaked that I was going to be Sarah Lance. Then it was leaked that I would also be Canary. So all the secrets leaked but it was still fun
How much did it come into play of your casting all the Parkour that you have done, because we have seen all the wonderful videos of you doing that?
Caity: I gotten to do some of the parkour. But a lot of my fighting training has come in handy with the show. I trained with a sword, but I had never used a bow staff. So that was different for me. It was fun working with the stunt team to get that going.
Paul: I have a question. Katrina what was your audition like?
Katrina: When I was called in I think my character was called Greta or Jen. I auditioned for the role of a smitten but spiteful lover of Oliver. I got called in for that and then they told me I was going to do a chemistry read. I was like OK. Then they said, yeah you are going to do a chemistry read with this girl called Katie. I said OK but where are my new lines? And they were like; you are going to read the same lines as before. I asked them if they wanted to change anything from the Oliver scene, and they said no, do it exactly the same. So then I asked, “Is my character going to be a lesbian?” And they said they couldn’t answer that. And I said, “You know it would help out in my read if I knew if this woman was my sister or my lover because there is a difference.” And they said they could tell me that. “Just read it like the way you did before, exactly the same way.” I walked into the audition, and I had looked at her parkour videos, so I knew she was so badass. So I walked in, and there was this moment where we just stared at each other, then we said “Let’s do this.” It was such an odd audition.
Caity: Yeah, we just went with we’re lesbians.
Katrina: It was such an odd audition, but we went for it. I was told I got the part, but it wasn’t until TV Guide announced it that I knew what the part was. In fact, before I was told who my character was, I was going online trying to guess who my part was. Was I Lady Shiva? But when I found out who the character was I thought it was cool. The character I play was only in 19 comic books so, there was a lot we could do with the character.
You all have parts that are ingrained to the comics. They all have backstories, and you get to look at that source material before playing the parts. What is that like?
Caity: I think it can put a little pressure on you if you let it. I was talking to a girl today at the con, and she talked about growing up on “Black Canary” comics. She told me how much she loved the “Black Canary” and how much it meant to her. When she said that the way I portrayed it was exactly how she envisioned it, it was such a compliment. The show is for the fans, and you want it to be true to the source material. You want to bring everything you can from it but at the same time bring something original to it. You just have to take the pressure off and dive into the part as deep as you can.
Katrina: I think I felt the opposite with my character because she was only in nineteen comics. She’s an unexplored character, so I feel that between me and the writers we were free to take her anywhere we wanted. From giving her an accent that is kind of from nowhere, being a lesbian, we could do anything we wanted with the character. For me, I love it because I can do what I want and set the standard. How about you Paul, how do you feel about the paunch?
Paul: Ah, yes, the Lance paunch! Apparently in the comics he has a paunch, and I wasn’t interested in that too much. I’m really not a very authentic actor at all! There is all the comic mythology that is there, but I tend to zero in on the producers of the show and say “What’s your interpretation of this?” For me personally, I would probably just get all confused if I tried to research it in the comic book world. My brain can only take so much, so I just go straight to the producers and go “What’s your take on the character? On the mythology?” What do they know about this character and its mythology? Then I can just roll around in this ignorance blissfully, because that’s what Lance does. I mean he’s just wondering why everyone is dressed like they are. “Why can’t you just wear normal clothes?”
I quite enjoyed “The Dollmaker” episode, which was quite creepy, because we got to see Lance’s past. Are we going to see more things like that in the upcoming season?
Paul: What they tend to do is to give everybody their own episode to explore their past on. You have such rich, diverse characters and with the continuing seasons, you can explore them more and more. That was an example of exploring Lance’s past. This season we will be exploring the past of that geeky blonde woman who wears glasses. We had such fun with the Lance family flashbacks last season. It was almost like we were shooting a sitcom. “Oh, the Lances are so happy!” I wasn’t sure it was the same show for a bit.
What is it like as actors to play roles that are so layered? Where they live in a world that isn’t so black or white?
Caity: Anytime you play a character that has more layers, it’s more challenging and fun. In life nobodies just good or evil. Oscar Wilde said, “It’s not about being good or bad, it’s about being charming or tedious.” I think with these characters you get to delve in so many different areas. I mean these characters can dip their toes into evil and then comeback.
Paul: The medium of television lets you do that. With the on-going format of television, you can take your time to explore that. Everybody is not just good or bad, and you get to see that reflected in this show. Human beings can be just down right peculiar, not just good or bad. Like Katrina’s character, who I am obsessed with because you think one moment, “She’s bad”, then think “She’s alright”, then “Oh, wait, she really is bad.” It’s fascinating! It’s just great writing.
Katrina: Yeah, one of my favorite characters is the Canary character because the writers do such a good job of giving her so many circumstances where if you were to just judge her character by that one instance, such as sleeping with her sister’s boyfriend Oliver.
Paul: I don’t talk about that in front of me!
Katrina: Oh, so sorry. Normally that would define you as a bad person throughout the entire series. But because she does so many other things just as important as that action, she is suddenly redeemed. They such a great job with Canary, giving all these different nuances. I think the beauty of Arrow is that you can’t put any of these characters in a box.
Talk about the stunt work on the show, because it’s the best stunt work on network television.
Paul: Well, of course, I do all my own stunts! Ha Ha! Well, I did run across the room once! And I did that myself!
Katrina: Yes, you were brilliant! It brought tears to our eyes.
Caity: The stunt team is ridiculous. What they are able to achieve on an episodic show is “feature film” stuff it’s so good. It’s really insane what they do with very little time. There is so much of it where I go “I want to do that stunt”, and then I see it and go “Well, maybe not.”
Is this your first Dragon Con and are you enjoying it?
Paul: I just like hearing the word y’all.
Caity: And sweet tea.
Katrina: It’s the best cosplay I have ever seen. It’s so amazing, and everyone is so chill.
Paul: There are some pretty impressive costumes out there. It’s bit like Halloween.
Katrina: Yeah, it’s all of our first Dragon Con, and we love Atlanta. It’s one of my favorite cities.
Caity: And it’s like everyone at Dragon Con is friends. I get on an elevator and even though everyone is all smashed into each other, they just keep talking and smiling away. It’s fantastic. I love it!
Paul: And this hotel, The Marriott, is fantastic.
Caity: Yeah, it’s so cool with the elevator. I look out and just want to jump.
Paul: But don’t do it because you really aren’t the Canary in real life!
Thank you for talking with us today!
Arrow premieres Wed, Oct. 8th at 8 pm on Atlanta’s CW69.