The fan-favorite character 'leads with his heart, and not with his head,' says Amell
After four seasons playing billionaire and undercover superhero Oliver Queen on The CW series Arrow, Stephen Amell, 35, is making his film debut as hockey stick-slinging vigilante Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (in theaters Friday). Danger, breathtaking action, and plenty of baddies await — three elements that have quickly become the actor’s trademark. Here, Amell talks Turtles, transitioning to film, and reveals the hobby he’s taken up in his free time.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What were you looking for in your first studio movie?
STEPHEN AMELL: Quite frankly, I was just looking for a movie. The opportunities for me were few and far between — it’s [about] whether you can work over your hiatus or not. Once I found out Turtles was going to fit into my schedule, I pursued it pretty aggressively. I auditioned, I did a tape, I met with some people, I did a chemistry read with Megan [Fox]. Next thing you know, I was offered the job!
Casey Jones is known for taking out a villain or two with his hockey stick. Is it safe to say you had an edge in the audition process, being Canadian and presumably skilled at the sport?
It was a distinct advantage. I played until I was 13 or 14. There’s also a scene in the movie where I have to skate, and I do know how to rollerblade.
How familiar were you with the franchise?
I saw all the ’90s live-action movies in the theater with buddies of mine as a kid, and after, we would go home and have a pizza party. We’d eat so much pizza that we’d barf.
Growing up, who was your favorite character?
Michelangelo, for sure. Simply because Michelangelo was the party dude. That’s what I identified with as a kid.
Why did playing Casey seem like such a good fit?
He leads with his heart and not with his head. He makes mistakes, and he’s funny. I actually found that he was a little closer to my personality than Oliver Queen, who’s much more reserved, quiet, and introspective. That made the experience fun for me.
Was Turtles a way of stepping into film while staying within the comic book tradition that helped launch your career?
I think my experiences on Arrow made this a role that I was going to excel at, but I wasn’t thinking about staying in a specific genre as a transition to film.
What does the next step in your career look like?
I’m going back to Arrow. If Turtles does well, I’ll probably end up doing another [Turtles movie]. I’ve had the privilege of playing some characters that are established, but they have been characters that have been portrayed before, so I would love to anchor something new, a character that people would get to know for the first time through my performance. I would love to anchor a Jason Bourne-style franchise.
You recently crowd-funded a futuristic action film with your cousin, The Flash star Robbie Amell.
Robbie is one of the easiest people to get along with. I’m just excited. We can have a hard-R rating if we want. As much as I enjoy the studio system, I do think there’s an opportunity every once in a while to step outside of it and make something incredibly personal and a specific type of vision.
How do you spend time when you’re not on set?
My buddy and I started a winery. We think there’s space within the wine industry for people who aren’t wine snobs but want a really decent bottle to drink.
What’s your varietal of choice?
Probably cabernet. We have a really good cabernet sauvignon.