Arrow's Kat McNamara reveals how post-'Crisis' life makes Mia a better Green Arrow
New reality, new Mia.
Next week’s episode of Arrow not only serves as a backdoor pilot for a potential spin-off called Green Arrow & The Canaries starring Katherine McNamara, Katie Cassidy, and Juliana Harkavy, but it also dives right into the post-“Crisis on Infinite Earths” reality. In the epic five-hour crossover, Oliver Queen — a.k.a. the Green Arrow, a.k.a., the Spectre — gave up his life to reboot the multiverse and, in the process, helped create a brand new reality in which many things have changed.
What does that mean for Mia (Katherine McNamara)? Well, everything actually. In this new post-“Crisis” timeline, Mia never got a chance to meet her father, grew up very comfortably, and is blissfully ignorant of the horrific experiences she endured in the other reality. Well, that is until she regains all of those memories after crossing paths with Laurel (Cassidy) and Dinah (Harkavy), a.k.a. the Canaries, and then her entire world is shaken as she’s drawn back into the hoods and masks business and takes up the Green Arrow mantle.
Ahead of the big episode, EW chatted with McNamara about this new version of her character and how Mia actually benefits from this post-“Crisis” reality.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you react when you first read this script?
KAT MCNAMARA: This script has been a really interesting figuring out of what the next steps are, especially given “Crisis,” especially given everything that’s happened. It’s sort of that big question of “Okay, what’s next? What now? Where do we go from here?” I think it’s been a really wonderful collaboration with [showrunner] Beth [Schwartz] and [creator] Marc [Guggenheim] and [co-executive producer] Oscar [Balderrama] and [executive producer] Jill [Blankenship], and all of us coming together and figuring out what all of this means for Mia and what it means for her future and for the future in general.
This Mia has led a very different life because of what happened in “Crisis.” She has this perfect life. How does this version of Mia differ from the one we got to know?
It’s a very huge departure in some senses, and in others not all. In essence, this Mia hasn’t known any kind of sorrow or hardship or anything unhappy in her life other than the fact that her father died before she was born, or before she had any real experience with him. Aside from that, she has a perfect life — Star City has been safe — and she has had every opportunity at her fingertips because of her father’s sacrifice. So given that, she still has very similar issues of abandonment in that she hasn’t had her father and she knows it was his choice, but she knows it was for the greater good. She’s lived her entire life with the responsibility of being the daughter of the Green Arrow. That is held in such a high regard in Star City that it’s given her every opportunity. But she was still raised by Felicity. She’s still the same cutting, very smart, very cunning, adept young woman who has a sensibility about her but is a little lost. She hasn’t yet found her passion. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, and there’s nothing in her life that gives her that spark yet. That’s kind of where we’re left with her graduating college and hitting some real milestones in her life and sort of going, “I have everything at my fingertips, but I’m not content.”
What was it like to explore a different and lighter side of this character?
It was a really interesting journey because Mia has always had a sense of humor. That sort of levity has always existed and that little bit of Smoak snark that we all know and love. But it’s a different perspective. Where the Mia we know and love is very adept with her fighting skills, this Mia is very adept at her social skills. So it’s an expertise but in a completely different skill set and sort of learning how she relates to her brother and the other people in her life. It’s been a really fun journey of discovery.
Mia eventually gets her memories back. How does that shake things up for her?
It changes everything because in that sense she has two sets of memories and two realities almost living inside of her. The original one we’ve seen over the past few seasons and then she has this other life that she has known and loved, but she has a fully emotional attachment to both of them. So she’s constantly being pulled in multiple directions and [by] multiple parts of herself and trying to figure out what to do with this knowledge and with this memory of what it means to be a hero and responsibility. Also, the last time she wore her Green Arrow suit — the first time she wore her Green Arrow suit — she lost her father. So there’s a lot of trauma that comes back and Mia is not necessarily equipped to deal with trauma of any kind, let alone trauma of this gravity.
Juggling memories from two different realities in your mind is something none of us will probably ever have to deal with. How did you go about grounding that struggle for yourself?
It’s all about finding those moments where the different sides of her come out because it’s still the same girl at her core, just with a different set of experiences and a different set of circumstances. So it was really fun to see how her different instincts come out given the situation. Once she has memories back, we see these little flashes of the old Mia and how her instinct and training snap into play. There are other instances in which the old Mia wouldn’t have been able to well, but now with this new Mia’s social skills and the way she handles her life and the connections she has in Star City, she’s able to solve the problems in a different than she would’ve previously. So it almost extends and broadens Mia’s skill set and allows her to be an even more adept member of the team.
What were your favorite scenes from the pilot?
There are so many moments that I look back on. There’s some that I can’t talk about — they’re such spoilers and I can’t wait to discuss them further. But I would say one element that’s really special is the Mia-William relationship. We really got to see in season 8 how much they grew and how much they came together as a result of meeting their father and having to find their mother and deal with all of their issues together. Then in this new reality, they’ve had their entire life together and they’ve had a chance to really become siblings in the best way. They have almost a closer relationship. But then even when Mia gets her memories back, she remembers everything Mia went through in the other reality and she almost becomes more protective of her brother and more understanding of their situation. I love working with Ben Lewis and I love that relationship, and I think it just deepens it even more with this new sensibility.
Last time we spoke, you said that the Queen and Diggle families will always be connected. What does that relationship look like in this new reality?
It certainly plays into it in a big way, but I can’t say any more than that without getting in trouble.
Arrow airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on The CW.