He may play the reluctant hero on CW’s Arrow, but Stephen Amell has his sights set on a more sinister role in the future.
“I would like to play a [movie] villain that people know,” says Amell, who is one of the rising stars featured in EW’s New Hollywood Issue (on stands now). “The villain that people wear on t-shirts.”
What else is on his career bucket list? EW asked the actor divulge everything from his dream co-star to his tips for tweeting while famous (@amellywood has 172,292 followers–and counting).
What would your 2011 self say about where you are right now?
He would say “Way to go.” This was really the design. I started to book good television jobs in 2010. I started to get really close to exceptional jobs in 2011, and then I got Arrow in 2012. I know how lucky I am because just getting the lead in a pilot doesn’t guarantee that that pilot is going to turn into something great.
What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
I had been in the acting business in Canada for five years and 2009 was not a good year for me. I worked sporadically at best and I was really struggling just to make ends meet as an actor and was actually fully considering giving it up and doing something else. It was not a last ditch effort but it was decision that I was going to pursue this and I was going to pursue it for maybe more virtuous reasons than maybe I had in the past. At that point, I just got rid of everything that I owned and I moved to Hollywood and started anew, with a lot of seasoning but literally no experience in Hollywood/acting in California. That was the transformative moment for me.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given, and from who?
I was working on Private Practice when I got cast on Arrow. Amy Brenneman, Paul Adelstein, Taye Diggs, Catherine Scorsese, Kate Walsh, Tim Daley, they had all been leads on a series, [and at some point] I asked all of them for a piece of advice. They all had their own little nuggets but all of them said that lunch time is for napping. They all said that. It’s really true. [When you're on set] people constantly want to talk to you about stuff and lunch time is an opportunity to get 45 minutes to an hour of silence. More often than not I don’t fall asleep, but I eat my lunch as fast as I possibly can and then I just lay perfectly still until I get a very soft knock that the five minute warning to go back to set. That’s really good advice because you need to, in some way shape or form, break up the day.
What’s on your career bucket list?
I’d love for Arrow to go on for a long time. I’d love for it to spawn other things and I’d love to be able to build outwards from Arrow. I would love to be nominated for an award at some point or do something that at least engenders the type of cultural conversation that a role like Giancarlo Esposito on Breaking Bad, or actually any of the people on Breaking Bad. I would love to have a role in a feature film that was a cultural talking point.
Who’s your dream costar?
I am going to say Tom Cruise. I mean there’s a whole host of people that I would like to work with but if I could pick one person it would clearly be him…. I feel like things begin and end there. I would like to in some capacity observe how Tom Cruise goes about his business when it comes to making a movie and how he behaves on set and how he interacts with the crew because from everything that I’ve heard it is the template for professionalism and just the way to conduct yourself as an actor.
Time for that job interview classic: Where do you see yourself in five years?
The plan over the next several years is to find a really good project over hiatus and get involved with that. I don’t need to be a lead, but a project needs to be interested in me enough to cater to my schedule because my schedule is so specific. We finish April 20-something and I need to be back in Vancouver by July 1 to start, so it’s not that long, so whatever I do it needs to be fairly specific.
The secret to surviving in Hollywood is…
Being comfortable in your skin.
What are your rules for tweeting while famous?
I think that it’s really important to present an honest version of yourself. That’s it for me personally. I don’t think necessarily interacting is the most important thing. The thing that I’ve learned is that there really is no joy and nothing ever good is going to come from negativity. Those are thoughts that even if you were presenting an honest version of yourself, there’s just no point in sharing.
What about not tweeting spoilers?
Oh yeah, don’t tweet spoilers. I think that I’ve struck a nice balance of wanting to inform people and show them stuff. If there’s ever even a question, like if I take a picture on set, like I took a picture on set from our season premiere this year and I sent it to [Executive Producer] Marc Guggenheim and his response was, “Really cool picture, save it.” More often than not though, I’d say 9 times out of 10, way more often then not, he’s like, “Oh tweet that for sure.” Always check.