Arrow's Stephen Amell talks shooting Crisis on Earth-X crossover

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Sep 3, 2019, 8:24 AM EDT (Updated)

The Arrowverse faces a crisis on multiple Earths in this week’s two-night event. The crossover, aptly titled "Crisis on Earth-X," kicks off with Supergirl as friends and family gather to celebrate Barry Allen and Iris West’s wedding. In attendance, of course, are Oliver Queen and Felicity, among others. Unfortunately, the festivities get interrupted by Nazi forces and sinister doppelgangers from the alternate Earth-X.

The fallout continues on Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow as the heroes fend off this new threat and scramble to discover its master plan. The sheer scope and scale, not to mention the number of characters involved, blows last year’s Dominator invasion away. And, from the sound of it, this massive undertaking pushed the actors to their limits.

“I would wager to guess that I have the most screen time in all four episodes of the crossover,” Stephen Amell said during our recent Arrow set visit. “So that's been something. Not to get too inside baseball here, but they have made it bigger than ever. When we conceived of the crossovers back in Season 3 of Arrow and Season 1 of Flash, it was like, ‘OK, I'm going to go, and I'm going to shoot on The Flash for four days. Fine.’ The crossovers this year took up six full weeks of shooting. I think that in order for us to continue down this path, we, as productions, and The CW, as the network, and Warner Bros., as the studio, are going to have to fundamentally reconceive how we execute these, because this sort of broke the schedule mold. I mean, it just simply didn't fit.

“Furthermore, I think that if we're going to shoot it like a big four-hour movie, we have to board it like a big four-hour movie,” Amell continued. “We have to prioritize the schedules of the people that are going to be working the most, if that's me, if that's Melissa [Benoist], if that's Caity Lotz, if that's Grant [Gustin]. It's going to change year over year, based off of story.

“The payoff is that I've seen one cut of one episode, and it's like a four-hour escape,” Amell added. “There are some through-line storylines like Oliver and Felicity's relationship, and Barry and Iris' relationship, what's going on with Sara and what's going on with Victor [Garber] and Franz [Drameh]. It really is, for the first time, it's an event. It's not a crossover anymore. Call it the crossover if you want. But it's kind of like calling the Super Bowl just a football game. Yeah, sure, they play football, but there's so much other stuff that goes on with it. It's an event.”

The promo trailers feature the heroes battling evil counterparts of themselves. That means actors, including Amell, get to shake things up by wearing variations of their normal costumes and exploring some darker impulses of their characters.

“Much in the same way that last year during the crossover, we had our 100th episode, we put ourselves in this alternate reality and we got to have these exchanges you really shouldn't be able to have, we get to do that in this crossover, which is great,” Amell reported. “Which is what you're supposed to do, right? You're supposed to think, ‘OK, within the context of a story that people are going to enjoy, that makes sense. What people do fans want to see interact with one another?’ That's a long list, but I feel like we got to execute it this year more than ever.”

"Crisis on Earth-X" marks Juliana Harkavy’s first crossover experience. It would be a wasted opportunity if her Black Canary didn’t finally meet and compare notes with Sara Lance, aka Legends of Tomorrow’s White Canary.

“In the crossover? Maybe. I hope so!” Harkavy teased. “White Canary is awesome. I did get to meet all those guys, Caity and all those girls, for the first time during the crossover, and it was great. They’re amazing. I learned a lot from them.

“It was crazy,” she concluded “I mean, it was a whirlwind. The crossover has taught me a lot. It was really exciting, and Dinah … you know, there’s so much action that there’s a lot of jumping around. But, because there’s a lot of action, there’s a lot of room for Dinah to work her magic.”