Oliver Queen is no longer the Green Arrow. That title now belongs to someone else.
With pressure mounting from both FBI Agent Samanda Watson (Sydelle Noel) and his son William, Oliver (Stephen Amell) decidedly passed the torch of Star City’s savior to Diggle (David Ramsey). And while Diggle is happy to take on that new position, Oliver is unaware he’s accepting the job as the new Emerald Archer while secretly suffering from nerve damage as a result of the island explosion.
How will Diggle handle now being the leader of Team Arrow? EW sat down with Ramsey on set to get the scoop.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does Diggle feel about Oliver turning over the mantle of Green Arrow to Diggle?
DAVID RAMSEY: Well, part of this beat has been tread before, right? It’s something that Diggle honors and takes very, very seriously, so much in fact that the physical deficiency that he has, he’s going to great lengths to hide it from the team and fulfill the call that’s been placed on him by Oliver. So he takes it very, very seriously. He’s quite honored by it and he takes it with pride.
How does he handle being a leader out in the field?
Again, this ugly head of this physical limitation really rears its head in the field and it becomes glaringly obvious to the team that he has a problem, so he has to hide, he has to conceal it, he has to make excuses. He hides it from everyone, which is very unlike Diggle. But even as we roll through this, because he wears this mantle for several episodes, he becomes the leader he was at the beginning of season 4. He becomes a very sound leader.
Were you surprised when you found out Diggle was going to be the new Green Arrow?
I found out from Marc [Guggenheim]. Marc and I had a nice conversation about it. He told me that and told me some other things he wants to do in the later part of the season. We talked for almost two hours on the phone. The things they plan on doing this season — and it’s always a slow burn because it’s 23 episodes, so there’s all these dips and valleys and all these places. Thank God for the fans because they have to hold on for 23 episodes, that’s a long road. So there are a lot of dips and a lot of valleys, but where they want to take their relationship — particularly between Oliver and Diggle — is just a great place.
Do you now have your own Green Arrow costume?
Yes, I do. There’s like three of them floating around, me, Stephen, and Colton Haynes, because Colton played him at one point. There are a few outfits. I tore through one of them. It was actually made for me and then I guess I went to the gym a few more times than they knew, and I tore through one of them. Then they made another one, and that’s the one I’m wearing now.
Is it the same costume Oliver had or are there changes?
I don’t think there’s changes. The bow changed a little bit, and you’ll see that at the beginning of the season, but the costume is the same. I don’t think anything has changed with the costume.
Do you think Diggle as Green Arrow is going to last?
No. No, it’s Green Arrow. Stephen Amell is Green Arrow. It’s not going to last. Of course not, but I think it’s very interesting and it’s an interesting twist on how it fits into the ultimate theme of the season, I think it’s very clever. I think it’s an interesting detour. It also gives us some time with Oliver. I think it’s great, and he has some great writing. Stuff is happening between him and Deathstroke, and he and his son and he and Felicity. It’s awesome. I think holding it for the few episodes I have the mantle, that’s the appropriate amount of time.
Diggle and Lyla were struggling at the end of the season. What’s next for them? How does she feel about him being Green Arrow?
The issue of trust is very serious between them, as it is with he and all the team members. I go back to this physical limitation that he suffered in the explosion on the island that really does affect his whole life — his life with the team, his life with Lyla — because he goes about making some choices that are not honest, and that also strikes a particular chord between he and Lyla because of how much he has ridiculed her position as the new Amanda Waller, and the issues of walking that very thin line of light and dark, and playing with morality and all this other stuff, particularly with someone like her, who has her finger on the Suicide Squad. He’s had some real questions about that. Now he’s not walking the talk, so to speak. So the issue of trust comes up in a real way between them and the first part of it is because of what’s happening with him in hiding a secret. The second part of it is the same 800-pound elephant that’s been in the room: The fact that he works as a vigilante and she’s the new Amanda Waller. What is that all about? That ground hasn’t been settled yet.
What does the team’s next face-off with Black Siren look like?
A couple of ways: It ain’t going to be just her. There’s always a group of bad guys. So it’s not going to be just her, so there’s that part of it. We always like bringing people up from the past; that’s a little nugget for you. So things will come back to bite us, so to speak. Black Siren is only part of that. I will say that in terms of how does it make it difficult for us? Because we love Laurel, because she is Laurel Lance to us, particularly to Oliver. I think Oliver’s journey has been one of understanding his own self-redemption, and he wants to redeem Laurel — the mistakes that he’s made with Laurel, to some degree, he thinks he can correct those through Black Siren.
Anything you can tease of what this group of villains is after?
Part of it, in terms of story, is taking our characters to another place. That’s the main thrust of it all. Why do you bring someone like Deathstroke back? Because it’s great sh— you can give to Stephen, because he takes our lead character to another place. The first reason is that it’s good stories, you get great stories by bringing these people back from the past and having some personal connection to our characters, and you get to take these lead characters someplace else. The second reason is, I think the audience has a connection to them because they’ve seen them before, they know their backstory, they know what they can do, they know that they’re a threat to our main characters. There’s great storytelling in bringing back these characters. To some degree, some of these characters are attached to some of the team members personally.
How do the flashbacks change this season? Will we see any Diggle-centric ones?
We’ve talked about that, particularly with Diggle. I don’t think you’ll see the flashbacks attached to the central story the way they were before. It’s like you’re talking about your best friend in the present and then all of a sudden you’re talking about your best friend five years ago on the island. I don’t think it will be quite as attached to the central A story. But you have eight more minutes or so of storytelling. You still will see some flashbacks, but we won’t be married to it the same. This is what I know from the previous scripts, and what the producers have told us all personally is that you won’t be married to these flashbacks the way you were before. We will find some things out about Diggle. We’ve already talked about his parents this year. Hopefully we’ll see his parents. I don’t know if in flashback or in present day. I think you’ll see some flashbacks for the other characters as well. We already have a few in one of the episodes.
Will the team really be cemented as a family this year?
Yeah, there’s still some growing pains. There’s still some trust issues. This is probably the season where they really — this will be the bonding season even more so than last season. We still have to work through some trust. There’s a reason why Diggle hides this secret from the team and that has to do with trust.
Anything you can tease about the team going up against Vigilante again this season?
There’s something really big happening with Vigilante, really big. There are some big things for Vigilante. It’s tough for me to talk about Vigilante at this point and not give some things away besides to say his revelation will be — there’s some real intimacy with the way he’s revealed. It’s really going to be deep to find out exactly what he’s all about.
How will Agent Watson be making Diggle’s job harder?
We haven’t played all of that out yet. We just did a great scene, she and I, where she calls me out to the carpet. She’s like, “Let’s talk. You’ve been with him six years, it’s time for us to talk.” We just so happen to run into each other. I say, “Hey, I have nothing to hide.” She will be formidable in how she makes trouble for the team.
Arrow airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.