In the “Broken Arrow” episode of The CW series Arrow, Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) continues his mission to take down The Arrow, aka Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). And even though Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) orders Oliver to keep a low profile, a meta-human named Jake Simmons (Doug Jones) starts terrorizing Starling City, forcing Oliver to ask Ray (Brandon Routh) for help.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Paul Blackthorne talked about Lance’s evolution and his reaction to it, how upset Lance is that Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) is taking the blame for Oliver Queen, that the ground-breaking storyline of the finale will assure that things are never the same again, how much fun he had on The Flash, what he thinks of a possible romance between Lance and Donna Smoak (Charlotte Ross), and how his character is feeling about superheroes, in general. He also talked about a matter very dear to his heart – the poaching of elephants and rhinos in the wild – and how you can get involved. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: Your character has had quite an evolution, this season. When did you find out about this more antagonistic route that he would be taking, and what was your reaction to it?
PAUL BLACKTHORNE: A good storyline is a good storyline, and good character development is good character development. That’s one thing these writers do so well on Arrow. Whether we see good aspects of people’s character or whether we see bad aspects of people’s character, it’s all great stuff to explore, from an acting point of view and a story point of view. It’s great to see it. It would be boring, if everybody stayed the same for seasons on end. It’s great to see these different aspects of character, whether it be good or bad.
Because Lance had been such a nice guy, were you surprised that this was the turn he would take?
BLACKTHORNE: When somebody doesn’t tell a father that their daughter died three months ago, and then the person they’ve been working with seemingly starts murdering people with arrows, and their profession in life happens to be a police captain, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch for him to have behaved in the way that he has behaved, pursuing Oliver Queen and being a little bit upset with his daughter.
What can we expect from this next episode, “Broken Arrow”?
BLACKTHORNE: Well, of course, Roy Harper has stepped forward and is having people believe that he is The Arrow. Lance knows damn well that that’s not the case, and he’s extremely upset that Roy Harper has done this, for whatever reason it may be. He may have been coerced into it. Who knows? Roy Harper is an innocent young kid from a rough background in The Glades, who is taking the fall when clearly Oliver Queen is The Arrow. This just fuels Lance, even more, to pursue Oliver Queen and to prove that he is The Arrow. It’s just more fuel to light Lance’s fire, in terms of proving that Queen is The Arrow.
The actors on this show are all such a tightly bonded family. Since this is a very different side to the character, and Lance has not been too nice to many of the characters lately, has it been challenging or difficult to be so mean to people you actually really like, or is that just really fun, as an actor?
BLACKTHORNE: We’ve all spent years in drama school, so that we could overcome those sentiments. Acting is acting. It’s all part of the fun. What is important, in terms of us all getting along well and having a really solid unit of actors, is that we can enjoy each other’s company for the endless that we spend with each other when we’re shooting. But everybody is extremely professional and extremely good at what they do, so when it comes to everything between “Action!” and “Cut!,” it’s all about the characters. And then, in between scenes, it’s about just spending time with people that you really respect. We’re very fortunate, on this show, to have that situation.
When Lance is sitting by himself and thinking about how far things have gotten with Oliver Queen/The Arrow and with Laurel, what do you think he really thinks about the state of things? Is he too blinded to feel any regret for what he’s doing, or does he really wish that things could go back to the way they were?
BLACKTHORNE: Yeah, of course, it would be great to go back to his daughter being alive, for sure. And if his daughter was going to die, that his other daughter would tell him that that is the case would be good, as well. And that The Arrow wasn’t running around, seemingly killing people. It was all looking pretty cozy there for awhile, wasn’t it? Everybody was getting along fine, and Lance was doing his bit for Team Arrow. But as they say, conflict is in drama, and things can’t stay the same way for a long time. As these Arrow writers do, ever so well, things have changed in the latter half of the season. It’s great fun, and it’s great to be a part of it. To see these storylines happen is wonderful.
Without giving away any specifics of the story, once you had finished reading the finale script and learned about where everyone would end up, what was your reaction to it all?
BLACKTHORNE: The finale always has some extra edge, but so many of these Arrow episodes just completely spin you around. They’re such a roller coaster. The stuff that’s happening in these last few episodes is just one thing after another. The storyline zig-zags so many different places, and there are so many unexpected turns. I guarantee that you will not see the twists coming up in the next episode. You will never see it coming. And the stuff that’s in the finale is ground-breaking stuff, in terms of the storyline. The place will never be the same again.
How much fun was it to head over to The Flash and spend some time with Jesse L. Martin?
BLACKTHORNE: It was so much fun. Jesse and I get on very well. We have much fun together. Going over to The Flash and spending some time working with him and Carlos [Valdes] was a lot of fun. It was also nice to explore another side of Lance. He got to bond with a contemporary, who is another middle-aged man with a daughter, and talk about life on that level. He got to have a cup of coffee and a chat with what could be a really good buddy. It was nice to see that side of Lance’s character, as well.
Are you surprised about how much fans are rooting for Lance to have a love interest, and for it to be Felicity’s mother, and is that something you’re also rooting for, yourself?
BLACKTHORNE: It’s been a long time since Lance has gotten laid, let’s face it. It would be a great thing for Lance. From a story point of view, I just think Mama Smoak and Lance would be such an oddball pairing. If they were on a dinner date, I just imagine that he would be looking at her thinking, “I’m so attracted to this woman, but why am I so attracted to this woman?” She is hilarious, and she’s completely barking mad. She’s so the opposite of Dinah, but at the same time, he would have this inexorable attraction to her that would be really interesting to see played out. The two of them would make a really quirky, odd, beautiful couple.
Obviously, we know how Lance feels about Arrow, but how does he feel about Atom and The Flash, in comparison? Would he just prefer they all go away?
BLACKTHORNE: Starling City has gone mad, in Lance’s eyes. In Episode 318, he said, “I’ve got people flying around the city, and they’ve got that freak in Central City.” There’s so much crazy stuff going on. There used to be some gang, mafioso and triad issues, and some shootings. That was the landscape before, but at least they knew what they were dealing with. From the police department’s point of view, at least they knew how handle that world and get a grip on it. But when these guys started flying around, with their masks and flying machines and running a little bit faster than you’re really supposed to, it’s all getting a little bit hard to handle. It’s taking a break from reality. It’s been a bit mind-boggling for Lance, for sure.
As much fun as it is to talk about a superhero TV show, you also have a very serious cause that you’re getting the word out about, right now. What do you want people to know about elephant poaching and why is it important for them to do something about it?
BLACKTHORNE: Well, thank you for asking. I’ve decided to help with this cause because it’s been breaking my heart, seeing this outrageous increase in elephant and rhino poaching that’s happened in recent years. There’s one elephant killed every 15 minutes. That’s 96 a day. At that rate, in 11 years time, wild elephants will be extinct. So, what does one do about it? There are many great organizations doing wonderful things, but the one that I’m working with now is an organization called Air Shepherd. What they do is that they’re on the ground in Africa with these super computers that can predict the movement of the animals and of the poachers. They do that with amazing accuracy. They then fly the drones in to confirm those movements, and then they send in the Rangers to stop the poaching and save the elephants and the rhinos.
At the moment, they operate in small areas. What we’re going to do is donate the money that we raise from the t-shirt sales towards Air Shepherd, so that they can expand the area that the drones fly. The fact of the matter is that where the drones fly, the poaching stops, so we have to increase the areas that the drones fly. So, all proceeds from the “Poach Eggs, Not Elephants” t-shirts, on the Represent website. Anyone who buys a t-shirt during the campaign will automatically be entered into a random drawing, the winner of which will receive a free shirt, signed by the whole cast. It’s $22.99 on the website, and all of that money is going towards expanding the drone operation with Air Shepherd and decreasing poaching of beautiful wild animals.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.