As the CW star whose character changed the network's entire programming outlook, Arrow's Stephen Amell has been pretty invested in the ever-growing Arrow-verse, to put it as lightly as possible. Now that his run as Oliver Queen's vigilante alter ego is completed, however, the actor has been able to speak out about some of the more disappointing elements of how his Arrow legacy ended, and how disrespectful it was to the characters.
Stephen Amell On Oliver's Crisis Death
Fans had been waiting for years to see The CW's Arrow-verse pull off the multiverse-shattering "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event, and it was seemingly a sign of respect to coincide Arrow closing out its eight-season run with the epic crossover. It took little time for "Crisis" to floor viewers, going so far as to kill off Stephen Amell's Oliver Queen in the very first installment.
Sacrifices for the greater good of other characters aside, Stephen Amell was not too thrilled with how Oliver's bloodied death scene went down on the day of production, indicating that the rushed process didn't allow for the scene to be handled very delicately. Here's how the actor put it to Smallville vet Michael Rosenbaum for the latter's podcast Inside of You:
In the first episode of the crossover that has already aired, my character dies. And he's dying on a gurney in the Arrow Bunker. some of my lines... My lines are to Kat McNamara, to Caity Lotz, and to Grant. We're trying to wrap Caity and Grant because they had hit their 13-hour mark, or whatever it was. They were trying to wrap Caity and Grant before I shot the coverage of the scene where I died. I blame no one for this, but this is a scene with me from Arrow, that's taking place on Supergirl with a Supergirl crew with demands on both Grant and Caity Lotz who are on Flash and Legends who are on a different schedule than the crossover because they're shooting different shit and they're trying to pull them so they don't, Flash and Legends, mess up their day the next day. Meanwhile, the fucking Green Arrow is laying on a gurney trying to deliver his lines to something other than a fucking tennis ball.
Clearly, Stephen Amell had some issues with the way this scene was prepped and slotted within the filming schedule, since it didn't seem to allow very much time for the cast to deliver a convincingly thoughtful death scene for the Green Arrow. Many fans are likely aware of how complicated and time-sensitive the Arrow-verse crossovers are to shoot, since those complications get brought up each year. The biggest factor, of course, is that each of the superhero shows (with Black Lightning included this year) have to adjust their usual episodic production schedules to allow for cast-sharing and filming.
As such, it still rings strange that all the creative teams involved thought it would make the most sense to work Oliver's death scene into "Crisis on Infinite Earths" on a show that wasn't even Arrow, especially since he wasn't in the penultimate episode. Granted, Oliver soon returned with Spectre powers (thanks in part to Tom Ellis' Lucifer) and got another official death and memorial on Arrow proper, but saying goodbye to Barry and Mia was a huge moment in Oliver's life and in this live-action comic franchise.
So in a perfect world, a proper amount of time would have been devoted to the scene that didn't involve other actors being rushed for the sake of later convenience. only to be replaced with a hanging tennis ball to falsify eye contact for the camera.
Who'd have thought that "dying" in front of emotionally reactive co-stars would be easier than doing it in front of "a fucking tennis ball?" Stephen Amell, that's who.
Stephen Amell On 'Disrespectful' Filming Process
This whole conversation point started when, near the end of the podcast interview, Michael Rosenbaum pulled up a softball fan question that plainly asked if it was fun to film the crossovers. Hesitating for the same amount of time that Oliver would hesitate before trying to save Felicity or Mia, Stephen Amell said that it wasn't. In his words:
They're not brutal. You just can't… They come out great. The fans love them. I always think of what we leave on the table because we try and shoot something really extraordinary, and with this amazing scope, within the confines of our typical schedule. It's never made any sense to me.
While the first year or two of crossovers might have been easier to pull together on The CW's usual production schedule, the Arrow-verse has taken things to lofty heights, with "Crisis on Infinite Earths" going above and beyond to draw from all manner of live-action DC projects. So again, it's perhaps surprising that the powers that be didn't find better ways to adjust schedules to make the experience just as rewarding for the actors as the viewers.
Speaking directly to his tennis-ball co-star, Stephen Amell said this:
There are lots of scenes where I'm acting and there just aren't other actors there, and that's just not an acceptable way of creating the best product from my perspective. I think it is a little disrespectful to actors and their process, speaking personally. Other actors may not give a shit.
CGI-heavy movies and TV shows, both those with superheroes and those of other sub-genres, often force actors to perform opposite inanimate objects, or in some cases, another actor wearing a green-screen suit. So that's obviously going to happen on occasion for all the shows in the Arrow-verse. But Stephen Amell is talking about other living and breathing performers, and not digital monsters and aliens. Something tells me it'll be a lot harder to replace his co-stars in his next show, the wrestling drama Heels.
You can check out the five-part "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover on The CW's website, complete with Ezra Miller's surprising cameo, and be sure to watch Arrow's finale, "Fadeout," on Tuesday, January 28, at 9:00 p.m. ET.