Arrow star on their shocking exit from the show: 'It's not the end of [SPOILER]'
Warning: This post contains spoilers from Monday’s episode of Arrow, “Star City Slayer.” Read at your own risk!
Team Arrow just lost one terrific member.
Monday’s installment of Arrow ended with Curtis Holt, a.k.a. Mr. Terrific (Echo Kellum), bidding adieu to Star City for a job in Washington, D.C. With that onscreen move comes Kellum’s official departure from the CW superhero show as a series regular, EW can now reveal.
In “Star City Slayer,” Curtis received a job offer from the Kohler Humanitarian Institute in D.C. because of the technology he’s developed. As he weighed his options, the team started tracking a serial killer, which led to Curtis using his tech to save Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) after the killer slit her throat. That feat helped him make the decision to take the job, because it would allow him to help as many people as possible. Diggle (David Ramsey) tried to get him to stay by offering him a promotion at A.R.G.U.S., but Curtis turned him down and handed Helix over to his partner in crime Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) before leaving.
Kellum, on the other hand, made the decision to leave Arrow after four seasons because he wanted to spend more time with his family in Los Angeles and is interested in pursuing other ventures in music, writing, and directing. However, both Kellum and executive producer/showrunner Beth Schwartz assure EW that this isn’t the last of Mr. Terrific.
“I love working with Echo, who is an absolute delight and joy,” Schwartz tells EW in a statement. “Echo has always brought humor and heart to Arrow. Curtis is such a fun character to write for and he’ll be greatly missed. We haven’t seen the last of Mr. Terrific.”
Below, Kellum opens up about his decision to leave, his favorite moments on the show, and what’s next for him creatively.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did your exit come about? Was it your decision, the producers’, or something mutual?
ECHO KELLUM: I had a conversation with [then-showrunner] Marc Guggenheim in season 6. It was my idea. I have kids — I have a 12-year-old — and it was just starting to feel like I should be back home more.
First of all, I love working on this show. I love the cast, the producers. It’s the best cast I’ve ever worked with, the best studio. They’ve taken such great care of me and made me feel like I’ve been there since season 1. So all of this has been very bittersweet because I actually feel very crestfallen, because it’s so tough to leave such an amazing show. But I think for me, it just boiled down to family, and also I just wanted to try a couple of creative ventures in my life. I’m working on music, directing, and writing now. I still love acting, but it’s something I’m not looking at as the top thing of my career anymore. I’m looking at my career in a different light.
So, I approached Marc. We had a long conversation about family and fatherhood and all those things, and he totally got where I was coming from. You know, Warner Bros. and the network were so generous to be able to let me exit gracefully. What I will say, this isn’t the end of Curtis. I’ll definitely come back as much as they want me back, and visit and guest-star and whatnot. So, it’s not the end of him. I guess it’s really a family decision overall, just to be a little closer to my kids. I’ve been around my kids more during the school parts of the year the most that I have been in the last four years, even in the past month. It was definitely not an easy decision.
Both Arrow and the Arrowverse as a whole have this sort of open-door policy where actors have the flexibility to come and go as they need. Did that make it easier for you to approach Marc and Beth about this?
Absolutely. I’ve know things that have happened with actors in the past, so that was definitely something that made it easier to broach the conversation. I went to them just to have a conversation — not being like, “Hey, I want off!” but just to gauge where they were, how they felt about how I was feeling, and all I got was full support. They didn’t want me to leave. I’m so thankful that they wanted me to be part of the show in the first place, and they still want me to be part of it. So, it’s definitely an open-door policy for me. I’ll come back any time they need me to come back, for sure, but right now? It’s really nice to be around family more and take care of these creative ventures that I’ve been working on in L.A. as well.
The episode ends with Curtis deciding he can put his tech to better use in Washington after he gets his job offer. How did you feel about the way Curtis was written off?
I liked it because it’s still innately Curtis wanting to help other people. He’s leaving in a way where he can try to have a bigger impact in trying to help other people in the world. I really appreciate that, because I hope it leaves open the door for him to pop back in every once in a while until they get to their 300th episode. [laughs]
What was your last day on set like?
It was very emotional. I definitely cried. Everyone cried. It was really difficult because they are my family and all of us have such a great rapport, on screen and off the screen. The last day was really tough. A lot of tears, a lot of cakes. But the last day, we shot in this spooky house, so it was very interesting. I feel good about my decision overall, but I’m going to miss all of them, miss being the trenches with them every day and laughing on set and just being silly, and then also just telling this amazing story that our amazing writers are crafting. So it’s just definitely very bittersweet. I’m exited for what’s in the future, but it’s tough to leave such an amazing show.
What do you think you’ll miss about Curtis, this character you’ve been with for four years?
I just like his charm. He’s so silly and he brings a lot of levity to a lot of the darkness that the show can permeate. I’m gonna miss that about him — that he just has a great outlook on life, like his positivity. It doesn’t mean he hasn’t dealt with hardships and doubting himself and whatnot, but I think I can pull that from him, of just being positive and looking at the bright side of things, and trying to do the best I can for my fellow man. I’m really going to miss playing those parts.
Looking back at these past four seasons, what was your favorite moment or episode on the show?
One of my favorite moments was getting to put on the Terrific 2.0 costume. That was such an hugely empowering moment for me personally as an actor. It was so great.
But as you say that, the moment that comes back to me again and again is in season 5, episode 2. Me, Rick Gonzalez, and Madison McLaughlin, who played Artemis, we were all having a scene. We’re training, Oliver’s got the bell. Oliver and Felicity have a moment, and we’re just in the background just kind of chilling and improv-ing some banter in character. Then, Rick says, “Hey, we on a TV show.” We are all still in character. [laughs] It was just such a perfect moment from Wild Dog. As the character, I thought he would say something like this. “Look, there’s cameras everywhere,” and we’re like, “Dude, what are you talking about?” That moment was so funny and so meta. We talk about that moment so often. We’ll be shooting a scene and I’m like, “Rick, we on a TV show, man,” and then we just start laughing and cracking up. That is really one of the moments that touches my heart.
Honestly, the moment that I really think about is the first moment when I got to meet Felicity and came in that first day. I just remember how amazing it was to feel welcomed and a part of that universe from the jump. That’s a moment that really holds true to my heart. Honestly, there are a couple of episodes from this season: The episode where I got to do French, that was so much fun. The episode where I got to flip the script on Diaz [Kirk Acevedo] was so much fun too. I really like where they were going with him. I hope there can be some type of a future for him Arrowverse. It won’t be on an episodic basis, but I’m really proud of the work I got to do with this character and thankful that they let me play with him for four years.
Have you started talking to the writers about when that potential return might happen, or is that still far off?
We’ve had some discussions. Nothing’s been finalized at this point, but we’ve definitely discussed that aspect and they definitely made sure and clear that they want Curtis to come back. I can’t give you any definitive episodes or storylines, but it’s definitely something I’m 100-percent open to doing, and I believe they’re open to doing it too, so it should definitely work out at some point in the future.
If things aligned where you were available and they wanted you back, would you want to be involved in next year’s big “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover?
Of course, 100 percent! That’s going to be so epic and amazing! I would love to be a part of those crossovers.
Is there anything more you can share about what you have planned post-Arrow?
I’m working on music right now. It’s been a labor of love. I’ve been working on an album for the past two years, but now I’m afforded the time to actually focus on it and really get into the studio and bang some stuff out. I’ve been shooting some things. I just shot a short; got some financing for it and shot that. And writing a bunch of scripts. I have a feature that we’re out trying to sell right now and a pilot we’re out trying to sell right now. Everything is very irons-in-the-fire, but I’m just very confident in my future and my work ethic. I know it’s only a matter of time before things fall down.
What can we expect from your first album?
I mainly do hip-hop. I love being an M.C. and rapping. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was in high school. My brother was a hip-hop artist, and we lost him in 2006, unfortunately, so I’m trying to make something to honor him and everything he was doing. My music has always been a passion. I’m not doing it to make a million bucks. I’m just doing it for the love because I just want to put out my own creative venture in music and still getting some of the pieces together is just exciting.
Is there anything else you wanted to add?
I think the only thing I want to do is just thank all the fans for giving me a shot. For all the fans that loved me and for all the fans that didn’t love me so much, thanks for watching, thanks for caring, thanks for making me feel like I was part of something special, because it is a special show. I will see you guys in the future on other projects. And excelsior!
Arrow airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.
This interview has been edited and condensed.