INTERVIEW: Willa Holland

Published in The Music (VIC, NSW, QLD, WA) and on, Apr 2015



Arrow star Willa Holland is done playing the “melodramatic girl”. She discusses her new focus and the show’s craziest season yet with Daniel Cribb.

After making a name for herself in The OC as Marissa Cooper’s little sister, Kaitlin, Willa Holland darted between several film and TV appearances before landing a spot on Arrow, where she found herself playing another sibling, this time the younger sister of main character Oliver Queen. The role of Thea Queen saw Holland once again in the role of a tormented teen full of angst, and for two seasons, she played it well. That all changed in the show’s third season – a collection of episodes that transformed Thea Queen into a completely different character and has given Holland an opportunity to smash any preconceived ideas about her acting skillset. “I’m just sittin’ around set in between takes,” Holland begins from the set of Arrow, where the final episodes of the season are being filmed. With an intensive filming schedule, it’s no surprise to find her hard at work. “At the current moment, Arrow is taking up most of my time. We shoot about ten months of the year… It’s pretty rare how much we work. And the schedules for each episode are pretty jam-packed. We’re famous for having very, very long hours, but we all love each other – otherwise it would be a pain in the arse,” she jokes.

The show sits on The CW Network in the US, which is also home to long-running hit Supernatural and fellow DC Comics show The Flash. “We all watch each other’s shows. I mean, I actually don’t really watch [Arrow] half as much as I watch The Flash now, which is kind of weird, and I watch Gotham. I kind of stay true to the DC universe and I do not watch Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. – I would never,” she laughs.

Thea Queen’s transformation has given Holland an opportunity to take part in the action scenes. “It’s been great being able to do it and being able to show the fans that Thea is not just the kind of melodramatic girl she was through season one and season two, and that she actually has some strength and some grit inside of her.

“I was kind of sitting, waiting and ready to do the transition from day one, but since it’s been happening it’s been amazing; being able to go to the gym every single day and then work out and learn all these amazing techniques. I mean, picking up bows and swords and all that and actually learning how to use them.”

And it sounds like fans have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of the intensity season three will deliver. “It’s kind of one of the craziest seasons yet,” she agrees. “I can’t really say much without giving it away. It’s just all crazy, and all awesome. Every single episode is like a finale. I don’t understand how they keep on topping each episode. Every time I read them I get really scared and nervous.”

While Holland is loving the direction her character has taken, there may come a time when it takes a turn she might not agree with – as was the case for Arrow’s Manu Bennett, who wasn’t happy with the writers’ take on his character, Deathstroke. “We all have to understand that as much as we do find a connection to our characters, and the shows that we’re working on, it is a job and our duty to do justice to the stories. I mean, as far as the characters go and as the storyline goes, we’re not telling an original story, we’re telling something that’s already somewhat set in stone via the comic books, so it’s not like everything is up to us at this point… I understand [Bennett’s] tribulation with it, but personally, if my feet were put into that shoe I don’t think I would feel the exact same way. I think I would understand why things were going the way that they were.”

That said, the new-look Thea Queen has allowed Holland a little more wiggle room. “I kind of relate to Thea in certain ways. And I think now that she has her grit side sticking out I can now throw in a bit of my own kind of personality and sway into her, which is great. Beforehand, like I said, I treated my job as, in theory, as a nine-to-five, and it is my duty to serve the people above me – who are my writers and my producers – and then to do exactly as they wish without really putting too much of a fight up about it – because in the end it is them who are trying to create the story, and I’m trying to tell it.”