Arrow's Willa Holland Talks Thea's Dark Season Three Path

With John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn taking his (spoilers) biological daughter Thea Queen under [...]

With John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn taking his (spoilers) biological daughter Thea Queen under his wing in the upcoming, third season of Arrow, there are a lot of unanswered questions as to just what Willa Holland will be doing this year.

And she isn't the one to answer them, for the most part.

Holland joined and a small group of reporters at Comic Con International: San Diego last month for a roundtable, where she dealt with Thea's relationships with Roy, Oliver and Merlyn; her character's love life; and how training to make Thea more of a badass has her in the gym for the first time in her life -- for 20 hours a week.

Ed. note: It's helpful to know that Snow is a 2004 made-for-TV movie starring Tom Cavanagh and Ashley Williams. Is spawned a sequel, in which the pair also starred.

Can you tell us about what's different about playing Thea this year?

Willa Holland: I can say that the Thea [last name] that we saw leave at the end of season two is definitely not the Thea we see in -- once we're back -- in Season Three. And she's definitely...she's gone through some stuff, and maybe taken out a little anger on the gym. I need a Band-Aid for how cut I am right now, guys. I mean, really, seriously.

Is there a specific kind of training you're getting at the gym?

W: Right now they just really want me to bulk up. Limber up as well. They're emphasizing a LOT on being limber. So, I'm like, "Okay," and they're not telling me why. [Laughs] That's the thing. I'm also doing wrestling and boxing. Haven't started the wrestling yet, but my personal trainer does do wrestling and he was told that he had to -- he actually just got a phone asking to teach me 'take-down wrestling moves,' so I'm like, "All right, I'm down."

What are the odds that we'll see her following more down Malcolm's path this year?

I think that the -- I really can't say much along those lines, but I can say that she was so broken at the end of season two, to the point where, season three is where she -- her head space in season three is, she's just not going to ever let that happen to her again. She is at a place where she is not gonna let anybody hurt her ever again. And that's really all I can say about that. [laughs]

I'm NOT allowed to say much.

...Maybe a little evil?

Again, NOT allowed to say anything like that. What I can say is that, obviously season one was all about Oliver's arc on the island. Season two was almost like a homage for Roy's being on an island, or his version of the island. So, I've been getting teased about and am quite excited for it, the idea that season three is kind of Thea's arc, on her version of the island.

Now, has it been fun working with John Barrowman? I don't think you've done a lot with him before...

No, never actually.

...And now you're really in the thick of his storyline, obviously.

Yeah, yes, he's amazing. We had maybe two scenes where we would walk past each other, we never really had any scenes together. We had so much fun together off-set, all the time. How could we not? We all have a lot of fun.

I have a feeling that they're going to just have to look like two pods on either side so we don't talk in between takes because we have so much fun to the point where he's distracting anybody from actually getting their work done.

And I feel bad but I also can't not do it. He's kind of the most amazing person ever, so it's kind of a great time!

Are you excited about working with the cast of The Flash down the line?

I am so stoked about that because everybody that's on The Flash are great people. I've known Danielel for a really long time. She's amazing. Grant is the best and Tom is amazing -- we all know Snow, right? 

I brought that up to him -- he was not too happy about it.

It's kind of the greatest thing ever. We actually shoot not even across the street but across the lot from each other, so it's like our studio and then their studio and it's like, we should probably just have joint lunches all the time and joint parties. It's pretty amazing and the idea of the crossovers is really, really fun for us. I mean, I definitely know that I'm not going ot be in the first one but I don't know about the rest and there's some fun stuff ahead.

How does this season deal with identity and secret identity? You're one of the few principal leads left who don't know Oliver's secret.

It is actually pretty hilarious the way that it will be perceived for the two of us. It's great that you bring up the question but unfortunately I can't answer it -- which is really making me mad because I have the greatest answer for that, but I can't say it and it's pissing me off a lot. I'm so sorry!

Will it last the entire season?

Yes, I think so. I very much think so. But God, I wish I could answer that question!

Roy's final lie to you was the last straw. Now, you're both transitioning into new roles. Do you guys ever cross paths? Is that lie dealt with?

Do me and Roy cross paths? Yeah, we definitely, definitely cross paths again. There is so much love between those two. They are in love with each other; they're just both in a broken place. Or Roy at that time was in a broken place and is now definitely changed a lot and become far more put together but Thea is not. Thea's gone through a lot.

I don't think that there's going ot be a rekindling off the bat, but who knows in the near future?

What are your thoughts on how varied the strong female characters are on this show? They aren't all written as a typical "strong woman" icon.

It's kind of amazing to be able to have all of these women. I mean, Katie Cassidy's character Laurel is such a strong, independent woman. Same with Sara Lance, same with Felicity. There's just too many good roles on the show for females [to list them all now]. And if anything, Thea's was kind of the one that was the lesser of and now maybe she's gonna be the best one. Who knows?

Obviously because Merlyn knows Oliver's secret, does that put him in an awkward position with you? Either he tells you, or he doesn't and then he's holding a secret all season like Oliver was.

That's something I can't answer! But it's a really good question [laughs]

Do you have any ideas for your costume if you get one?

One thing Stephen has always told me and it's something that I'm very adamant about now is, "Make sure you don't wear boots in your costume."  And if you do have to wear boots, make sure that they build you a pair of fake boots into Nike free runs or something like that.  Because it's impossible to do anything in boots. Actually Black Canary was in these really heavy Florentine and Baker boots, these crazy, heavy, stalky boots and she forgot to say that in the meeting and it didn't happen and then every single day she had to run around in those crazy, horrifyingly heavy things. But she somehow pulled it off amazingly; nobody could tell! That shows how amazing Caity Lotz is, right there.

I think, you guys saw a long, black trench coat and I might be wearing that thing quite a few times.

Is there any more feedback you've got from your castmates other than the boots?

Don't wear heavy boots and wear a mouth guard. I've already been hit in the face, and it hurt really bad.

[My trainer and I] were sparring and he grazed the side of me, if anything it hit my ear more becuase I kind of dodged it a little bit but not enough. It was my fault because he wasn't really going all the way. I came forward, but I didn't know that was happening.

Taking a hit of any kind has to be kind of new for you.

Oh, no. I get into a lot of bar fights. I brawl.

No, definitely not, but I'm definitely prepared for a lot of that to happen, for sure. Our trainer's the best, he's really amazing and actually kind of scary when he takes his shirt off.

It's like, "Okay, he can crush me into powder, probably."

Does Thea's training come from Malcolm?

Stop asking me things I can't answer, damn it! [Laughs]

How do you feeling being a show where it's the guys who are always taking their shirts off, not the girls?

Well, it's kind of hard for us. We're not on HBO or Showtime or Starz, so we can't really do that. But I will say that the poster for Season Three is no longer Stephen's abs, it's now my abs. So...yeah. That's a complete falsified statement; I just like saying it.

How have you found the fan following?

I get some of the most enthusiastic reactions ever and I actually quite love it. The Arrow fans are the best fans, actually. I've had some trickle in from The OC and kind of follow over and The OC fans are great, amazing. There was really only one incident with one of them attacking me, thinking that I really did kill Ryan. They were thoroughly convinced that I killed Johnny, Ryan Donahue. I remember walking down the street hearing my name...or, "Kaitlin, Kaitlin! You bitch!" And before I could turn around, I got bodyslammed down on the ground.

She was like, "I should kill you for killing him!" It happened. So...that happened. And I had to get Ryan on the phone and be like, "His name is Ryan Donahue, it's not Johnny Harper, and he's alive. Here, I have a photo that I took with him like two weeks ago! He's totally alive!" 

It's not like that with these fans at all. I don't feel that at all. I think Arrow's guys got their heads on their shoulders a little bit better.

Do you think as your character comes to the forefront as a villain, that could change?

It could change for the better. I don't see anybody tackling John Barrowman.

Actually, I do, in the greatest way possible.

But I'm quite excited for it all, and I'm at the gym now, so I can take anyone down.

You've got a great fight choreographer, too...

Oh, we do. James Bamford is the best. He's a legend beyond legends, actually amazing.

Is this a different kind of workout for you?

I've never hit the gym before. I'm not the kind of person who does that. So yeah, I went from never going ot the gym to going every single day, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. until 11, pretty much. Or 11 to 1. I tried to go gluten and dairy free. It didn't work.

Have you had weapons training, too?

Not yet, not yet. First we need me to be able to pick up a weapon.

Do you think you're going to continue with it now?

Yeah, I definitely think I'm going to be sticking with it. The few days that I haven't been working out because I've been down here has made me feel really weird and it's kind of crazy how it does that do you. But I'm definitely getting to that place where I want to have an Elliptical in my apartment and go running every day.

How close are the cast?

We could not be any closer. if we were all blood-related, that's as closer as we could actually get. It's like a hilarious family on set and a very, very tight-knit one. We all are very much there for each other in great ways. Stephen is probably the best older brother anybody could ask for and is one of the greatest friends in the world and just an all-around great person. And Colton is the best on-screen boyfriend I could ask for to...and i wish he was my real boyfriend! [Laughs]

How do you feel about being a part of the long-running legacy of these comics?

It's the greatest honor ever, actually. Pretty great, I've got to say. I think all of us feel so honored to be working on this show and the way that it's gone, the trajectory. We expected it to be big, but nobody expected it to go this big and we are so happy and proud of it, it's actually pretty nice.

When you do your flashbacks, is there a chance you could be working with Susanna Thompson again?

I absolutely hope so! I'd entirely love to. Susanna is one of the greatest people that has ever entered into my life and I actually had dinner with her about a month ago down here. That would be the greatest thing ever, absolutely. I would love that to happen.

When you say you'll be crossing paths again with Roy...will that be romantic, or...?

I can't say. It's another one of those, but there's definitely going to be some paths crossing again. It'll be interesting, really interesting. Yeah.

Can you talk about the characteristics you've had to take on for this role and how it informs what you want to pursue outside Arrow?

Being able to start training on the show has been the greatest thing because I feel like it's going to open so many doors for me just physically on my own. I've always wanted to play a kick-ass girl like a Kate Beckinsale or a Resident Evil or something rad like that. But yeah, being able to have that under your belt is an amazing opportunity.

Are there certain other skills you want to have on your resume? Archery, perhaps?

Yes. I want to do boxing, really badly. I want to be an all-star boxer; I want to Million Dollar Baby the heck out of my life. And I keep watching Stephen with his parkour stuff and I think that's got to be the most fun thing ever -- like, it's got to be painful and hard, but it also looks like it's so much fun. So I would not mind doing something like that, either.

With all of that training, is there another role you'd like to land in terms of superheroes?

Umm...I'd like to play Speedy! [Laughs] That's all I got for that one.