Oliver Queen heads to prison in the first half of Arrow's seventh season, which begins tonight on The CW. The hero who has been saving Star City every year for almost a decade now has been found guilty of crimes he committed while acting as a masked vigilante, turning himself in at the end of last season in exchange for leniency for his team and assistance in taking down some bad guys.
Don't expect Amell to be taking any tips from The Flash star Grant Gustin on how to act all sensitive and loving from the other side of prison glass, though.
"After the premiere, we really isolate Oliver," Amell said, suggesting that he gets very few visitors after tonight's season opener. "He goes a long time without interacting with really any familiar face. I have enjoyed the couple of visitors that I’ve had. I actually had one recently with a character that I haven’t had a sit-down scene with in some time, and it was really fun to work with them again."
Of course, being isolated does not mean being alone. Virtually all of the advertising for the season so far has centered on the challenges Oliver will face in prison, which include some run-ins with familiar villains from the past.
"He finds some enemies that you would expect to be his enemies in prison, but we also have him team up with a few unexpected people, and those scenes have been fun," Amell said. "We have a new character, Stanley, that we meet in the pilot and he and Oliver sort of form an unlikely alliance. We also have someone come back that I know we were able to slip through without anyone knowing about it, and it was really really exciting to work with that character."
Among the expected throwdowns? A shower battle, in which a naked Oliver is forced to fight off some (clothed) assailants in the prison shower. When you have a dark, violent, and gritty show head off to prison, it seems like a shower attack is a virtual guarantee, and Amell -- who had to do his own stunts for the scene -- was glad to have stunt coordinator James Bamford helping him to manage it.
"The fact that it was the premiere and so we had James Bamford directing — he had really thought about all of the different angles and all of the different ways that he could film it that would make it work," Amell said. "Quite frankly, standards and practices did not make it particularly easy. We weren’t even allowed to show my hip. I figured we would be allowed to show my butt, and we couldn’t even get close to that. There couldn’t even be the implication that there was anything below the waist. So that created some challenges, but the fun thing about doing that scene is, I can’t do the body double so much like the Ra’s al Ghul fight way back in season 3, it had to be entirely me. So I’ll just say that by the end of this, I was tired — that’s for sure."
During that period of isolation, it sounds like if there is anyone who will have access to Oliver in prison, it's John Diggle, whose wife is the head of an intelligence agency and who is Oliver's most trusted associate on Team Arrow. Even after the way their relationship deteriorated in season six, Amell told ComicBook.com that with everything else out of Oliver's control, Diggle is there to make sure Felicity and Oliver are safe and that Oliver knows their status.
"Their relationship is in a good place. They left it in a good place," Amell said. "Dig is Oliver’s main point of contact in getting updates on the safety of Felicity and William. They’re in a good spot, but there’s elements of what he’s done since Oliver went to prison that don’t sit well with other members of the team, and that’s been an interesting dynamic to watch as I’ve started seeing the cuts."
With last season's big bad Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) promoted to series regular, you know we are going to be seeing a lot more of him this year. That Oliver will not be able to take any kind of revenge out on him right away is pretty frustrating, but Amell also admitted that the isolation that Oliver feels sometimes extends to him -- especially with new and exciting characters and actors coming onto the show...and then doing no scenes with Amell.
"There are a number of characters on the show that I would like to interact with right now that I’m not being given the opportunity to interact with, the Longbow Hunters among them," Amell admitted. "I love the idea that we set them up in the finale and we’re starting to pay them off in the early part of this season. I also like that we carried over a villain. Having that dynamic is interesting. That was probably the most interesting thing."
Soon enough, Oliver will presumably be out, though. Amell has said before and continues to say that fans will be surprised by how long Oliver remains in custody, but even before the season began, the promotional art for The CW's big "Elseworlds" crossover, which is shooting now, featured Amell's Oliver Queen back in costume as the Green Arrow.
"Yes, it is [frustrating]" to have those spoilers out there, Amell admitted, but "I think that anyone would reasonably assume that you can only go so long with your title character isolated from the rest of the story, because if there isn’t an element of redemption this season, then I don’t know what the f--k we’re doing, to be perfectly honest. There has to be an element of redemption. That doesn’t mean that Oliver has to win, per se, and it doesn’t mean that he has to break out in episode one. But I do think that it would be a safe assumption for anyone to make that at a certain point this season, we will see him back in the outside world. That being said, it is frustrating that the crossover kind of hangs over stuff and there’s a poster up there of him in the Arrow suit. Still, the crossover has been a big boon for us, and the people I get to work with on the crossover this year, there are three that come to mind immediately that are wildly exciting that I never thought I’d get a chance to work with — not just the characters, but people. It’s good for the network and gets eyeballs on the shows."
Before this point in the production season, though, Amell has been focusing on the first half of the season, which was mostly about telling their own version of the near-mythic Super Max movie that never was.0comments
"I did not [read the script]," he admitted when we asked. "I know that movie has almost been made a couple of times, and the time that it really should have gotten made, nobody really knows about. I’ve already said too much. We’re telling our own Supermax story, and I’m very proud of it thus far."
Arrow returns tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.