Fresh off a small role in Taken, Katie Cassidy was one of the most recognizable faces in the cast of Arrow when the show launched just over two years ago. Playing Dinah Laurel Lance, she was immediately assumed to be a Black Canary-in-waiting...and then the waiting just kept going.
Eventually, Laurel's sister Sara -- not a character from the comic book source material -- was brought in to play the role of Canary and with Oliver's romantic interests directed primarily at Felicity Smoak, some fans wondered just what role Cassidy was set to play on the hit series.
The same as ever, it turns out. This season has revolved largely around the death of Sara and Laurel's subsequent transformation into a new, less well-trained and more tech-savvy Black Canary. We got to see her in action and in costume for the first time last week, in the first of what showrunners have described as a "Canary Trilogy," the second installment of which airs tonight.
Cassidy joined us to discuss the series, her years of waiting for a chance in the mask and just how she handles online fans and critics in a show that's got such a passionate base.
Yeah! I mean, look: As an actor, I remember when I met with Greg and Marc and Andrew about this show before we shot the pilot that this is where this character was going to go. That was definitely a huge thing for me. I wanted to do action, I wanted to stay with Warner Bros. and CW and I loved the fact that this character had this journey that she would go on but I didn't necessarily know how long it would take or what the journey would look like.
I don't think they did, either; they just knew eventually at some point that Laurel would turn into the Black Canary. When that would be...who knows? They assumed Season One or Two, but you're shooting a show and things change and you're trying to find your footing and what's working and what's not. I think it's smart that every character has to earn their suit or their costume. You can't just overnight all of a sudden be a superhero. You have to go through things and hit your rock bottom and then be able to come out on top and build character and be strong.
This season, it feels a bit to the viewer like it's been easier for you, so I think it's easy to forget that there's still a lot hanging over Laurel, including when Lance finds out about Sara.
Easier on who -- Laurel or Katie?
Well, I meant Laurel. She's found a role for herself and she's confident and it feels like she's in a good place...but there's still this past that's waiting to bite her in the ass.
Well, to be honest with you, I can't play anything that isn't as real as possible which is why I was in training over hiatus and I have been. And when I said to you, "Do you mean Laurel or Katie?," it's because this role has become a lot more physically demanding for me personally.
I wake up at 5 a.m. and go to the gym and work with my trainer as I go to work and it has taken a lot out of me but every single moment has been worth it because I live for it. I love it. I just think that I have the same reaction that Laurel would have, where yeah, this stuff has happened and she's honoring her sister's death and she's defending her sister but she doesn't want to think of the fact that her father doesn't know that she isn't Sara and she still is trying to bury it.
That's the thing that I can do because that's what I think she's doing until there comes a point where she's going to have to tell her father. How he will react and what she says and how she says it, you guys will find out but I think that there's a moment where it starts to become your reality so I try not to think too much about that because I feel like for Laurel, it would eat her up inside but she's dealing with so much that she can't take on more.
DC Comics has a history of legacy heroes -- people who take on the costume of their predecessors. I think this is the first time that's happened onscreen because obviously you don't usually kill your lead characters...
On Arrow it turns out we actually do! [Laughs]
...That's true! Is that kind of cool for you to be the tip of that spear in a way?
Yeah, absolutely. It's an honor and it's an honor to get the opportunity to play this character. Just being a part of a show that already had such a huge fanbase from the comic books, and to be perceived as well as it has been has been a blessing and I'm thrilled.
Last thing: How do you deal with the fans? The shipping community on this show has gotten so crazy that we now have Jimmy Kimmel having said "Olicity" on the air. Do you just kind of black all that out and work?
[Laughs] Um...yes! Because I think the worst thing that you can do as an actor is to get caught up in the bulls--t. And I'm sorry for saying that word, but I ignore...you can't compare yourself to other people, you can't get caught up in all the drama. The best way that I've been able to deal with it is to just ignore all of it. I'm here to do a job and I'm passionate about it and I love it and I want to make the fans happy but I don't need to be hearing or reading or seeing negative things because that's not going to help me or my character in any way.