Arrow, based on DC Comics The Green Arrow, is one hot TV pilot. And by all accounts, Stephen Amell is one hot Arrow in this more Jason Bourne-like and less Smallville-ish production. Like The Dark Knight’s re-imagined Batman, Arrow’s vigilante superhero fights crime with martial arts and technology plus the special skill of archery. “Working theory: The most expedient way to shoot a show where I’m an expert at archery is to become an expert an archery,” Amell tweeted in late February. And he must have hit the gym too. “You should see what’s under that hood……you’ve never seen ripped until you’ve seen this guy,” tweeted Arrow fight coordinator James Bamford.
None of my photographs do justice to how much Stephen Amell resembles a Jason Bourne-type action star. This is the closest I came with Amell in character as his secret identity Oliver Queen, crouched in Gastown before filming a take with Katie Cassidy as his former love Dinah “Laurel” Lance.
Pre-production set up on the same lot near a Burnaby Skytrain station that served as a Smallville permanent set for years. Filming on the Arrow pilot started on March 10th inside the Terminal City Ironworks complex in east Vancouver. The next morning, I missed an exterior scene of Oliver Queen jumping over the gate at the TCI entrance on Victoria Drive, but did spot the Oliver green arrow production sign on a walkby.
The next day, March 12th, Arrow set up at the foot of Gore Avenue in the Downtown Eastside during a wild west coast windstorm. Background performers dressed as homeless street peoople huddled around a fake fire and tried to keep their costumes intact in the wind. Stephen Amell and Colin Donnell, as his best friend and trustafarian Tommy Merlyn, were more sheltered, filming scenes inside Merlyn’s ride, a Mercedes 2012 SLS AMG ,with two wings and cockpit, as the ad says. Tents almost went airborne and Amell and Donnell looked like they were finally feeling the cold while waiting for their ride back to circus.
In the afternoon, Arrow moved inside a building near Hastings & Main. And then back to the warehouse on the Smallville lot for more days of fight scenes. Fight coordinator James Bamford kept tweeting during the Arrow shoot about Amell showing time and time again why he was cast. How he didn’t need a stunt double. “Stephen is a machine,” Bamford tweeted. How he wasn’t acting. Stephen is Arrow, Bamford said.
Brit actor Colin Salmon, who plays some kind of executive who knows Oliver Queen, joined the chorus, tweeting “ARROW is going in the right direction with power and depth. Justice we hope will follow.”
That weekend, Arrow took a road trip to Royal Roads University in Victoria to film in historic Hadley Castle as Oliver Queen’s mansion. The oceanfront castle also played Lex Luther’s estate in Smallville and Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men franchise.
And the following weekend, I found them again filming near the Gassy Jack statue in Gastown next to Chill Winston’s, where dozens of bystanders and tourists stopped to watch without knowing what they were seeing.
And later that afternoon in an alley behind Cordova Street, where fight coordinator James Bamford did double duty as a bad guy who assaults Stephen Amell and Colin Donnell at the Mercedes 2012 SLS AMG. I have a feeling this might be part of Oliver Queen’s journey to superhero-hood.
The alley shoot was enlivened by an unexpected visit from Fringe’s Anna Torv and her stunt double out on motorcyles on their Saturday off, stopping by to visit someone from Fringe now working on Arrow.
That Thursday, March 29th, Colin Donnelly wrapped his part as Tommy Merlyn, but Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy had days to go, not wrapping until the following Tuesday, April 3rd. “Last day of filming on #Arrow pilot. It’s rainy, it’s miserable, it’s absolutely perfect,” he tweeted. And then, “Wrapped, but definitely not finished.” Let’s hope not. Among other things, Amell is a wickedly funny tweeter. He advised his followers to “Pay no attention to this article” and then linked to Deadline.com’s Primetime Pilot Panic: Early Buzz Edition which called Arrow “a sure thing”.
As Amell left our beautiful, if frequently wet metropolis, he tweeted, “So long, Vancouver. Aside from that one stretch in the city where everyone does crack-cocaine out in the open, I love you.”