DragonCon was last weekend, and while it may not have the size or stature of SDCC, it's still chock full of great panels, signings, and all the other goodness of comic-cons. Check out these great cosplays for the weekend as well (we all know that's a subject close to my heart!).
This year, three of the stars of CW's [Arrow](series:720988) got together for a press Q&A to talk about all things Arrow, and we were treated to an incredible conversation about strong female leads, stunt doubles (and their asses), the confusion of casting and playing a lesbian couple.
There is a lot to take from this (and high five to those who watched the entire thirty-plus minutes!), so here are some of my highlights from the Q&A.
1. The Hilarity of "Secret Character" Casting
Neither of the actresses knew who they were auditioning for, which is not only interesting in and of itself, but adds a layer to all the times that we might hear casting news with a name attached. Caity (now Black Canary/Sara Lance) auditioned for a character named "Lisa" who was connected to Vertigo - although still out for revenge on Oliver, and Katrina Auditioned for "Jen", a possible spurned lover (for Ollie).
In fact, Katrina took some wild guesses at character possibilities, and came up with Lady Shiva. First off, props for knowing a comic book character who isn't in the mainstream pantheon, and second - that would also have been epic!
We were going online trying to guess my character, and though maybe Lady Shiva, or something like that because of the way it read. And then I found out it was Nyssa Al Ghul and that was really cool.
2. The Approach to Lesbian Characters
One day, two female characters in a relationship will be no more worth mentionable than any other relationship, and these guys are definitely moving the conversation in that direction.
Can we take a minute to discuss how the entire discussion on Sara and Nyssa's relationship was about Quentin's realization (and acceptance) of it and how that developed his character, and Katrina's story about having to do a chemistry reading without knowing the relationship between the characters. It's the exact same treatment given to any other relationship in the show, so kudos. (Also to the press, who didn't ask those questions.)
Speaking of, I can understand the need to keep certain elements secret so that leaks are minimized, but seriously? She had to do a chemistry reading (when an actor reads a scene with the actor who has already been cast, to ensure that they will have good on-screen chemistry, if you didn't know) with Caity without knowing their relationship.
How...how would you even do that? As she points out, not knowing if she was a sister or a lover makes just a little bit of a difference.
I was doing this really intense, smitten and spiteful lover for Oliver, and then they said "you're going to be doing a chemistry reading...with this girl that's in the show" and I was like "ok, where are my new sides? Do you want me to change it so she's like my sister, or? Is my character going to be a lesbian?" It would really help out in my read and my choices if I knew if I should treat this woman I'm reading with as a sister or a lover, cause there is a difference!
She also brings up her biggest issue with playing the love interest to another women (for her anyway)... that Caity is shorter than her! I love that this was her stumbling block - that she's more used to gazing down into her lovers eyes.
3. The Honest Discussion on Playing Strong Female Characters
Both women had something to say about their desire to play badass women, and at different points in the Q&A, which again, is awesome. This wasn't some stereotypical "strong woman" question posed by a member of the press, but something that came up organically in the conversation.
Caity is a dancer, martial artist and parkour enthusiast, so it's no wonder that she was drawn to a role where she could put that to use. She was also excited to work with new weapons, having trained with swords before (how badass is that?) but never a bowstaff. Awesome.
Katrina was also thrilled to play a character like Nyssa, but for different reasons. She talked about her role in Spartacus as Mira, who was a warrior woman, but who was fighting for very limited reasons. She speaks eloquently about her frustration with the tragic character who fought for a man, and her desire to do more with Mira. With Nyssa, she has the opportunity to play a woman who is also fighting for her own agenda; her relationship is in there, but so is the league, and her own views on morality and fighting on the right side.
I remember, as an actor, begging for more from my character. To move beyond and fight for something other than a man. To fight for something bigger. And one of the great things about my Arrow character is that she is, she's about her own personal agenda.
4. The Awareness of The Comic Books (or lack thereof)
A common theme with comic-book adaptations is the concern that actors lack knowledge of the source material, so it's always interesting to hear what they have to say about it.
Paul Blackthorne was extremely matter-of-fact about his lack of comic book knowledge, and in the funniest way, referring only to the paunch that Lance originally had and how he didn't like that.
Katrina, on the other hand, showed that she had both done her research, and got excited about the new directions that she could take the character of Nyssa. She knows how many issues Nyssa has appeared in, and compares her to the character of her Talia Al Ghul, and how much more space she had to play with a smaller character. Caity also talked about finding the balance between referring to the books, and finding an original way to play the role.
The show is for the fans, and so you want to be true [to the comic books] and kind of bring everything you can from it, but at the same time you have to do something original and do your own thing.
5. The Final Question
Sometimes, the best questions in a Q&A are nothing to do with the show, or previous roles, or anything else. One of my favorite questions was what the actors "geek out over" - a question clearly close to the hearts of DragonCon attendees.
Wonderfully, they all knew that "geeking out" doesn't have to be about stereotypically nerdy things (although Caity does talk about books, and to some that may be considered "nerdy"), but anything that you are deeply into. Katrina, that warrior-woman, doesn't miss a beat before talking about her love of cute animals on the internet. Who doesn't?
And Paul, bless him, manages to go off for nearly a minute about how much he loves trees. Trees. If you are ever in a less-than-great mood, I would suggest watching the last question in the video. On repeat.
Now that it's been confirmed that we will see the return of Black Canary in the first episode of the new season, I can't wait to see where these two incredible actresses will go.
Arrow Season Three starts October 8th on the CW.