Interview: Stephen Amell On “Queer” Beginnings And The New “Arrow” Queen

Stephen Amell is playing a Queen. Oliver Queen, to be precise, in the new CW action series Arrow. And while initial jokes about the character’s name may be juvenile, viewers will see in the pilot episode that this is not a kid’s comic book series. (Be warned, the Queen jokes are going to be coming much too easily.)

Based on the popular DC Comics character, Amell plays a billionaire playboy who had been written off as dead but returns very much alive with not only a jaw-dropping torso but with mystery shrouding what happened on the island where he had been living for five years. What we do know is that instead of all-night clubbing and partying he once indulged in, Queen is now focused on fighting crime (some possibly within his own family) and, bow and arrow in hand, dons a costume to become Arrow.

Arrow kicks off October 10th and was co-developed by out producer Greg Berlanti. It promises to be a fairly serious and dark show, and yet the handsome Amell is anything but as he sat down with AfterElton recently to talk about how Queer As Folk saved his acting career, his disappointment that he wasn’t going to be having sex with men on Hung and how exactly he mastered that impressive “salmon ladder” climb that he takes on (shirtless, thankfully) in the Arrow pilot.

Our chat began with Amell talking first about his very keen awareness of our Morning Meme

Stephen Amell: What’s the one you guys write on Monday mornings?

AfterElton: We do the Morning Meme every morning…,
So before there was all this Arrow-related stuff…every Monday I could count on the Morning Meme from AfterElton, and it would just show up every day. Oh! I check my IMDb on Monday or something like that and I would see it [there]!

Nothing more intimidating (or hotter) than a Queen with a bow & arrow, right?

AE: Nice! Speaking of your IMDb page, you’ve done so many different things, whether it’s on Dante’s Cove, Hung and I saw you were a spinning instructor on Queer as Folk?
First job ever.

AE: Was it really?
Yeah. I had been acting for four months. I had never gotten a job yet, and I said to my agent, because I was a spinning instructor at the time, I said, ‘If I don’t get this job, I quit,’ figuring that me being a spinning instructor would be totally important. It wasn’t important at all, but I did get the job.

AE: What was your experience like on Dante’s Cove? (Amell played Adam during season 1)
At first it was a horrible experience because we had a terrible director. They fired him. They brought on a really great guy. Then the following year they wanted to take the Adam character…he obviously was not straight any more. Then I booked [the movie] Closing the Ring, and I put in that I couldn’t do it. So they cast Jon Fleming. I’m still friends with Charlie David.

If Hung had lasted, Jason’s rent-boy services would’ve included men. (Damn you, HBO!)

AE: It seems like it’s not really that long ago but there you were playing on a gay-centric show, and I would guess some people – agents and managers – might say, ‘Hey, early in your career…you’ll get pigeonholed.’ But obviously that didn’t happen.
No. It didn’t happen at all. One of the things that I liked on Hung, which we didn’t get a chance to explore in the fourth season [the show was cancelled after season 3] was Jason Does Dudes. Male prostitution is part and parcel of the whole thing, and we didn’t get to explore tha. But clearly we would have, and I would have been more than comfortable shooting that because it’s HBO, and it would have been real and that would have been that.

AE: What was the number one appeal of doing Arrow?
Playing a superhero on TV. For sure. I always wanted to play a villain, but then I read the pilot and the pilot is unflinching. I mean, I kill a guy with my bare hands. I don’t want to, but I have an ultimate goal and he’s collateral damage. It’s acceptable. It’s an acceptable loss. It weighs on me, but it’s acceptable. When I read the pilot I had a picture of it in my head, and it was exactly as I wanted it to be. Then when I spoke with the producers and the director and I asked them what their vision was, the two synched up perfectly. So then I got really excited.

AE: Would you say with a show like this sometimes the line between good and evil is not really that far apart?
[nods] I’d love it to be blurred all the time. For example, my buddy on the show, Tommy [Merlyn], played by Colin Donnell…there’s a lineage towards Merlyn, who’s the Arrow’s nemesis. I would love for him to play such a great villain and have such convincing points that some people would be, ‘Merlyn’s kind of got a point.’ I mean, that’s awesome. I hope that people always respect what Oliver’s doing, but not everyone has to like it. And I’m fine with that.

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