Cover Story: Katie Cassidy (Arrow)

Published in The Music (WA)| 18.06.14 | Issue # 43

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Throwing everything into her work, it’s often “gruelling and emotional” on set for Arrow star Katie CassidyDaniel Cribb goes hunting for spoilers.

“I’m just leaving the hotel to head to the airport and go to Australia,” a somewhat flustered Katie Cassidy begins down the line from LA. Having darted around the US all week, she’s just completed a last-minute photo shoot for her fashion blog, Tomboy KC, and is gearing up for appearances at Supanova Pop Culture Expo alongside fellow Arrow stars John Barrowman and Manu Bennett. “I’m so excited, I’ve never been, which sucks. My whole family’s been and they always talk about it.”

Part of the legendary Cassidy family with a slew of impressive credits to her name, it’s in her current role in TV cult hit, Arrow that she’s been billed. Based on DC Comics’ Green Arrow and gearing up for its third series, Cassidy portrays Laurel Lance who, in the comic books, is the crime-fighting, arse-kicking Black Canary. The Laurel Lance on the TV series hasn’t joined forces with the Green Arrow, but it was at the end of series two that fans were given a hint that she might finally become the Black Canary. “Do you think I’m allowed to tell you that?” she laughs. “In Supernatural, I had a lot of training in things like kickboxing and I was a gymnast growing up so being part of the action story is definitely very exciting for me and I can’t wait, I hope there’s more of it,” she says on the prospects of becoming Black Canary.

“A lot of people asked me, ‘Have you read the comics?’ – and I felt that Laurel Lance isn’t Black Canary. Yeah I definitely did my homework when I was meeting with [writers/producers] Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim but at the same time, I want to be true to where my character lives in that specific moment so I haven’t gone ahead and read too much about it because Laurel Lance hasn’t become the Canary at this point so I’m trying to keep her as grounded and real as possible. I do feel like she’s the heart of the show… If and when Laurel becomes the Black Canary I will do far more research into the comic.”

Series three is shaping up to be an exciting endeavour for Cassidy, and a welcome change from the somewhat exhausting plot line her character had to endure in series two, Lance struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. “As an actor it was amazing. I love a challenge; I love the way the writers wrote for me. It put me in a weird spot. When you go to work every day and when it’s gruelling and emotional, it can be draining at times but at the same time it’s the reason I do what I do. I love what I do with a passion. [The writers] did a wonderful job but it was definitely draining and it took a toll on me. I was exhausted emotionally but at the same time I look back at it and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

It was a combination of the writers pushing actors and the actors accepting the challenge that rendered series two gripping all the way to the finale. “I find it rare that season two is better than season one. And in this case, I feel like the second season was – reading scripts and doing analysis was, at least for me, a page-turner. And I feel like from what I’ve heard about season three, it’s going to be just as good, if not better than season two.”

Those who have followed Cassidy since her first TV appearance in The Division in 2003 know that she’s been acting non-stop across a range of different formats and is something of a legend within genre TV and thriller film circles, garnering credits in films like Taken (2008) and the revamped A Nigthmare On Elm Street(2010).

After The Division, she had brief stints on 7th HeavenSex, Love & Secrets and more, before landing her first recurring TV role as the original human face of demon antihero Ruby on Supernatural in 2007, which was followed by a spot on 13-episode CBS mini-series, Harper’s Island, appearances on Gossip Girl and making the main cast of the short-lived Melrose Place revival. “[Harper’s Island] was interesting because you never knew if you were going to die or get killed off. A wedding party goes to an island and there’s a killer on the island – someone in the wedding party. We never knew who would be killed off on the next episode. Happy to say I lasted until episode twelve out of thirteen,” she laughs. “It was very stressful and nerve-racking but at the same time I had a blast doing it.”

Probably the most intense role Cassidy has taken on however was the main character in 2014 thriller, The Scribbler, a role that saw extensive preparation and was shot shortly after the Arrow pilot. “I played a woman who had multiple personality disorder and I created seven different characters and came up with different character backstories and when I was shooting it, it was incredible and such an amazing experience. It gets a bit stressful but I think it adds to it.

“It was a great experience and I hope people enjoy watching it as much as I did filming it. I think that it truly shows a different perspective – I actually sat down with someone who had multiple personality disorder  – and you know, bringing that to life is difficult but again, it’s where my passion lives and I love a challenge.”

Daniel Cribb