The fan-favorite character 'leads with his heart, and not with his head,' says Amell

By Nina Terrero
Updated June 02, 2016 at 02:43 PM EDT
Credit: Jessica Miglio

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.

A version of this story originally appeared in Entertainment Weekly issue #1417/1418, on newsstands now or available here. Subscribe now for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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