In the world of DC Comics, Oliver Queen and Lex Luthor probably wouldn't get along too well. In real life, two of the actors behind these iconic characters get along famously, as evidenced by Smallville actor Michael Rosenbaum having Arrow star Stephen Amell on his podcast, Inside of You.
The former Lex Luthor of Smallville (and voice of The Flash in many DC animated properties) sat down with Amell, and their conversation covered everything from how genre actors look out for each other to how the Arrowverse's famous crossover episodes work, and even how craft services can toy with an actor who continually has to do shirtless scenes.
Rosenbaum is in a unique position to understand the ins and outs of appearing in genre television, especially since he appeared on The WB, which eventually became The CW... the host network of Arrow.
Amell seems grateful to be in the position that he's in, especially because it happened in an unlikely way. He was the first actor to audition for the role of Oliver Queen, and told Rosenbaum that series creator Greg Berlanti was not present at his initial audition. Berlanti had apparently told the casting associates to tell him if anyone interesting came along, and after just two scenes from Amell, Berlanti was brought in.
At that point, 11 or 12 more people were in the room, Berlanti included. Amell recalled leaving the lot that day thinking that he got the part, but also knowing that things never happened that way. In the end, he was right — he got a call about an hour later, and the wheels were in motion. Before long he was in front of the network executives for their approval, and soon after that, the arrows started flying.
Because he had never been a leading man before, Amell admits to not caring what the initial deal was. As he says, "It was a fair deal, I had no quote... I'd never been a series regular before. I was a very, very fair deal."
That was before the hard work of becoming Oliver Queen began, however. As he says, "If I’m in there, I’m probably in every scene for the entire day.” Amell was working hard, and when Rosenbaum asked him when it was that he realized what his own value was, Amell says that he realized it pretty early on.
They hadn't really figured out the voice modulation tricks yet, so Amell recalls having scenes with Laurel (Katie Cassidy) where they were "60 feet apart," with both of them whispering into earpieces. His days were grueling, and his call times reflected that. In one instance, he had to tell an assistant director, “I’m gonna get in the car tomorrow at the exact time that I get in the car tonight, and not a minute sooner.”
He goes on to say how being the lead character on a show does not mean that you receive the biggest salary. As he says, “Up until the end of the second season I was the 4th or 5th highest paid castmember, because I had no quote. They gave me what they term as a 'gift' after Season 2, so it’s them raising my salary without asking for anything in return. My thing was very simple, I said quite frankly, I work way more than anyone else, especially in Season 1 and Season 2 it was more disproportionate than it is now.” Eventually he ended up making more — not necessarily because of the stated amount of money, but because of the fact that he was in every single episode.
Though some of this rankled him at the time (and perhaps still does), his gratitude comes through, and he notes, “We’re actors, and we’re sensitive, and we take everything personally.” He added, “The entity of Arrow is bigger than me. I am replaceable.” At this remark, Rosenbaum completely disagreed.
This speaks to how these actors have come together and have each other's backs — not just Amell and Rosenbaum, but other veterans like Smallville's Tom Welling and Supernatural's Jared Padalecki. As Amell says, “When I did my renegotiation... it wasn’t fun. I have a lot of friends who have been in similar positions, and I knew what the actual numbers were.” He made it clear that the real numbers got spread around — he had heard them from Padalecki, who in turn had heard them from Welling.
In terms of Amell's method of working, it sounds like the Arrow set is full of actors who work a little differently than one another. Amell notes that he will joke around with David Ramsey (John Diggle) quite often, as well as Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak). On the other hand, Paul Blackthorne (Quentin Lance) does not fool around at all — he comes in, word perfect, and completely prepared. When asked about his personal preparation by Rosenbaum, Amell shared an unusual approach, especially when it comes to learning his lines.
“I read the script three times and that’s it,” he says. “I never know what we’re doing on that particular day. I’ve been saying speeches as Oliver for so long, by the time we block the scene and have gone through it a couple of times, I know it.” He goes on to say that, “I can tell stuff that has been put in the script to satisfy people at the either at the studio or the network... if that speech has 80 words in it, by the time I say it it has around 55. I’m not changing the direction, I’m also cognizant of knowing the entire script. I always like to drill it down, just a little bit.”
Apparently, the other real sticking point that Mr. Queen has comes down to shirtless scenes, which used to be way more prevalent in earlier seasons. “If you want me to be shirtless on the show then why are there donuts at craft service?" he asks. Though not everyone on that set needs to be shirtless, when it comes to the shirtless Green Arrow, those donuts have definitely failed his city.
Amell and Rosenbaum also touched on the now famous Arrowverse crossover episodes, which were not a thing back when Rosenbaum was doing Smallville. As the crossovers grew in scope, Amell mentions how staggering schedules was difficult at first, so as the ambitions for them grew, producers began to build in "down days" for certain shows so the actors could be moved around a little more. For the crossover episodes (where Oliver is usually front and center), Amell's technique goes up a few rungs on the salmon ladder.
“I always take some time during the crossovers," he says. "I always take some time with the [four different] directors to just go okay, okay, where are we? What show? That’s gonna be hour three? Okay, what just happened? Just to make sure I know where I am.” He also adds that, “I love going to other sets.”
Does he have a favorite show to crossover with? He was hesitant to answer this question from Rosenbaum at first, but Luthor got the truth out of him. “Flash is my favorite show to go to, because there’s something special about doing scenes with Grant [Gustin]. I love doing scenes with him.”
It's not every day you get a very candid look behind the superhero scenes with the Green Arrow and a former Lex Luthor. Hopefully, Amell will continue his dark avenging for years to come, and that craft services keeps the dreaded donuts far away from him. He'd probably be able to shoot an arrow through one of them at fifty paces.
The Arrowverse is back in business on Oct. 9, featuring all new seasons of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Black Lightning, and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Need to get hyped? Take a look at a new promo for all of the returning shows below.
(Via: Inside of You)