With Arrow: The Eighth and Final Season set to arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, April 28, TVLine seized the opportunity to catch up with the original cast member and revisit Season 8’s highs and lows, including her directorial debut and loads of deja vu. Cassidy also opens up about how the original Laurel’s tragic Season 4 death helped shape the woman she is today.
TVLINE | Ever since Black Siren started spending time in our Star City, the fans were clamoring for some sort of redemption arc. What was important to you about the two-season journey that followed for the character?
Just that her story, in terms of her character, be told and looked at in a way as though it were a separate identity, starting as her doppelgänger. Playing Black Siren, I wanted her to get a sense of depth. I wanted it to feel like she lived a different life, and that actually came down to the writers and myself doing the character backstory, trying to make her as complex and whole as possible. I wanted to have a chance to tell her story of where she came from — and I think we’re still exploring that. That’s what’s cool about this potential spinoff, Green Arrow and the Canaries; we still don’t know the story of how Black Siren, on Earth-Two as her redeemed self, learned what it’s like to be a hero. What has she gone through as we pick up with this pilot in 2040? There is still a lot of story to be told.
TVLINE | In the Season 8 premiere, as you basically recreated a lot of scenes and dialogue from the pilot, were you almost overwhelmed with a feeling of déjà vu from eight years ago?
I wouldn’t say “overwhelmed,” but it was nostalgic. And of course it was great to see Colin [Donnell] and have everybody there, to see all of our old sets…. All of that was all very real for me, like it was a “goodbye scene” in a way or “until we meet again” in a way. I was just genuinely crying because it was like, OK, this is the end of this [chapter] and goodbye for now, but again, with this spinoff I’m pretty positive. I feel really good about it, and I think we shall continue.
TVLINE | For Episode 802, we gave you a Performer of the Week honorable mention, because Laurel went to such an emotional place dealing with the loss of her own Earth. What was it like getting where you needed to go with your performance?
Oh my God. Thank you for bringing this up. And I say this because maybe I haven’t shared this yet….. But OK, as you know, I directed 803. First time ever. So to be honest with you, I was in prep for the episode I was directing while shooting 802, and in 801 I was shadowing directors… and at the beginning of Season 8 I had just moved from a house to a condo over the hiatus…. So I basically didn’t stop from Season 7 to Season 8 and my gosh, it was crazy. I didn’t stop from the beginning of July until the end of October. I have to say, it was actually the universe working for me in a way, because I was so exhausted, but I am so grateful to have the opportunity to direct and I’m so grateful that they wrote this episode, 802, for me. They wrote such an incredible story for me and I love acting and performing, so I was grateful for that. I was very pleased with Episode 802, and I was also really pleased with my episode I directed.
TVLINE | And the episode you directed was no slouch. You had a lot to get done, bringing back Thea and Talia, location work, new sets…. What was the biggest challenge you were presented with?
To be honest with you, it was just a lot of planning and prep and I Did. Not. Stop. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. It’s, like, unbelievable, and again, I’m so grateful for the crew and everyone who helped me bring my vision to life. I don’t want to say there were a lot of challenges, but there were a few along the way — “bumps in the road” — but it’s just about being resourceful, knowing you’re on a clock, and knowing how to communicate what your vision is. I had luckily done the WB Directors Program so I was very well prepared. And I learned a few things in the editing room, which was great.
TVLINE | Oliver and Thea sitting on the cliffside, you had to be pretty proud of that shot. It was gorgeous.
Oh my God, isn’t that so beautiful? That was the last scene [filmed] of that episode. I basically shot the whole episode, which was a big episode, and then I had to shoot that scene three days into [Episode] 804, so I had to go back to directing in the middle of my acting day. But I was in such a good flow and I felt really confident. That last scene, I came up with that shot on the fly that day and that’s what’s cool about it. It was f–king beautiful and amazing. Again, grateful for my DP, my crew. But also the shot at the end [where Oliver first sees grown-up Mia and William in the bunker], I also came up with on the fly, and that’s also another really fun shot. But thank you, I appreciate that, and thank you for the kudos on my performance.
TVLINE | In the time loop episode, 803, Laurel got closure with Quentin that she perhaps didn’t know she needed. Did it mean a lot to you to also get one last big emotional scene with Paul Blackthorne?
It definitely did. I actually struggled with that scene a lot, but I think the character did, too.
TVLINE | Because she had been in denial for a whole season about how close they were, or could be.
TVLINE | I have to imagine you weren’t afforded much time to prepare for it, but how did you adjust your performance for the backdoor spinoff episode, 809? So that we got a sense that this Laurel is a little bit different?
I did not have a ton prepared, but it’s interesting because I think that our showrunners and writers for that episode — Beth [Schwartz], Marc [Guggenheim], Oscar [Balderrama], Jill [Blankenship] — I’ve worked with all of them for all of the last eight years. They know what I’m capable of in terms of, as an actor, and they know where I tend to shine, and I think for that episode particularly they leaned into that in terms of writing, so I was able to sort of sink my teeth into it. I’ve also expressed to them, which is true — and I think seeing that episode, you get the sense of it — that I as a performer do my best work when I streamline through the episode, when they write for me and I can really immerse myself in the world every day. That’s when you’re going to get the best performance, when I’m actually living it. I think it’s cool because you see her, like, harder side, but she’s also…
TVLINE | Looser. She felt a little looser to me.
Yes. She has heart and she has, you know, a side that’s softer to her, and I think she wants to share that, but you can see she’s torn. She’s a warrior, and she wants Mia to be one, too. I don’t know — she’s complex, I guess.
TVLINE | Is there something that you know about Laurel of the spinoff — some secret that you have been told about her — that we don’t know yet that’s fun or juicy?
Well of course! But I can’t spoil it…. But yeah, I’ve talked about it with the writers and stuff, yeah….
TVLINE | Any anecdotes from shooting the Arrow season finale?
It was very nostalgic. I feel like the last season was so short, and so the whole season just feels so nostalgic in a way.
TVLINE | It seemed like our resurrected Tommy was being just a bit flirty there with Laurel at the funeral. What do you think her POV on that is? “Been there, done that”?
Well, I don’t knowwww…. [Laughs] Given what happened with this Laurel and her Tommy on Earth-Two…. [Note: TVLine will soon be sharing a deleted scene that sheds light on the doppelgangers’ dynamic.]
TVLINE | Was there any character moment you were hoping to get in the final season that you didn’t quite get? Like, do you feel like you and Stephen [Amell] had enough meaningful moments?
Yeah. But I wish there was more. I liked it when it was Stephen and I partnering up [early in the season], that was cool and fun for me. I wished there was more of that, I wished we saw more of that. And I think that with the spinoff that could be a possibility.
TVLINE | What are you hearing on the Green Arrow and the Canaries front? Any timeline for getting word on a pick-up?
I don’t know, honestly, just because, again, in this time in this world nobody really knows anything. For me, I’m a very positive person. I feel confident, positive that we’ll go [to series], because I think they are super-excited about it. It’s very fresh. And if there was ever a time for a three-hander, all-female badass show, now is the time. I love the [Arrow] family and our fans, and I think it will be good. I’m not worried. I feel pretty good about it.
TVLINE | What are you most excited to explore in this new chapter for Laurel?
More of Black Siren and what her life was, and how she got there to 2040, and just more of her leading this task of heroes, of women, along with the Green Arrow and the other Black Canary. I love playing a hero. I love playing a villain…. I’m just excited to jump into it.
TVLINE | Lastly, a nice heavy question for you: How is the Katie Cassidy I’m talking to right now different from the one that shot that pilot eight years ago? How have you changed as a person, as an actress?
Ohhh, I think I definitely have more gratitude for everything. I think that I’ve grown in so many ways personally, and this show really helped shape me. I think I have gratitude, appreciation, and you learn, you grow… your have your personal life, you have your work life… you just have to continue to evolve and be open
I think that them killing me off the show was actually, for me personally, a very good thing, because like I said, you sometimes need to get knocked down. I didn’t want to get killed off — to be honest, I was sad, but I also understood. I wasn’t mad or bitter. I was like, “I get it, this is television” and it was a platform for the writers to write for other characters and how they react to a lead getting killed off. So I have to say that as a person going through that, I was grateful and lucky enough — again, the universe I think does work for us if we allow it to — that they brought me back shortly after, and for that I was so grateful. So getting the part, and getting sort of knocked down, and then getting the part — because like I wasn’t the Black Canary when I thought at first I was, and then I wasn’t, and then I was, and then I got killed off, and then I was alive again [Laughs]…. You kind of go through all the emotions, so you really just have to ground yourself and have appreciation and gratitude for everything. I really am glad that I got to learn that lesson.
In addition to all 10 episodes, Arrow: The Eighth and Final Season features a “Best of DCTV’s Comic-Con Panels 2019” featurette, plus the Arrow: Hitting the Bullseye special and other deleted scenes. The Blu-ray set also has a bonus disc that boasts all five parts of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover plus a half-dozen related featurettes.
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