On the “Lost Souls” episode of The CW series Arrow, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) is frantic now that she knows Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) is alive and is being held by Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). And while her guilt over not finding Ray sooner causes tension between her and Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), Donna Smoak (Charlotte Ross) makes a return to Star City.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Charlotte Ross talked about Donna returning to Star City at Oliver Queen’s request, getting more involved in what’s going on in town, what Mama Smoak thinks of her daughter’s relationship, how she’d feel about Felicity being at risk, that engagement ring, that we will eventually learn about Felicity’s father, Donna and Lance (Paul Blackthorne) finally meeting, and her favorite scenes to shoot.
Collider: It is always a pleasure to talk to you, especially when it means that I’m talking to you because you’re back on Arrow.
CHARLOTTE ROSS: Aw, thank you! I’m excited to be back!
We know that Donna has never had a problem with showing up uninvited or unannounced. Is that the case this time, or is there something specific that brings her back to Star City?
ROSS: Well, I’m excited to say that it’s Oliver that’s been having a lot of phone calls with Donna in Vegas, and he’s actually asked her to come to Star City.
Star City is a very different city since the last time Donna was there. Will she wonder what’s been going on while she’s been back in Vegas?
ROSS: She’s out of the loop there. I think she watches the news and sees things, but her main focus is her daughter, making sure her daughter happy, and finding out what’s going on with her daughter and Oliver. She hasn’t been that entrenched in the violence and things that do happen in the city, but I can tell you that she does get sucked up in it a bit, coming up in some episodes.
Is it more fun for you to be a bit more involved in the action and what’s going on, in that way, instead of being the outsider who doesn’t know what’s happening?
ROSS: Yeah, that’s a good point. I don’t see myself becoming a superhero. I got the cutest Tweet from a fan who had this fictitious picture of Donna in an all-pink rhinestone cape and unitard, as a superhero. I laughed and laughed, and I think I re-Tweeted it because it was just so funny. Obviously, I don’t see Donna becoming a superhero anytime soon, but the more she gets closer to her daughter and they want to be in each other’s lives more, it’s going to be more likely that she’s going to be in town more, and there’s a lot going on in town. As an actress, I enjoy being involved in those storylines because it adds more depth to my character and what she has to deal with.
Donna saw how torn Felicity was between her feelings for Oliver Queen and the relationship she was having with Ray Palmer. Now that Ray is out of the picture and still presumed dead by the larger population, and Felicity is officially with Oliver now, what does Donna think about all of that? Is she happy that Oliver finally followed his heart to Felicity, or does she have any doubts?
ROSS: You saw last season how Donna has wanted her daughter to be in a relationship, or at least just get a boyfriend. She even wanted to go through her wardrobe and have her dress more scantily. But with the episode last season, she started to see somebody who was maybe falling for somebody else, but was really scared and didn’t know what that feeling was like. Falling off a cliff is really scary. Donna has had a lot of relationships and a lot of heartache, but that being said, you still want to be able to jump through fear because on the other side is what you’re wishing and hoping for. So, I think Donna is their biggest supporter because the more she sees Felicity falling in love and in love, the happier she is and the more she cares for Oliver. It’s something that she’s never seen her daughter feel, to that degree, so she’s a big ‘shipper.
At the same time, do you think that if she found out that just by being with Oliver, Felicity is at huge risk, it would make her a bit less happy about them being together?
ROSS: You know, that’s a really good point and we haven’t touched on a lot of that on the show. I don’t know how much Donna knows about Oliver being Arrow and his involvement. She really knows very little, on that end. When they do finally broach that and show that, I think that will add another dimension because, obviously, that puts Felicity in a lot of danger.
You said that Donna has been having phone conversations with Oliver, but do you think she ever went to visit Oliver and Felicity when they were living outside of Star City, or was she busy doing her own thing in Vegas?
ROSS: I think that she wants to see her daughter a lot more now. It’s probably now up to Felicity, how much time she has for her mom ‘cause Felicity is so darn busy. Because they broke the ice last season, after being hurt and not having seen each other, they realized that even though they’re very different, they love each other so much and really want to be around each other more. I think that if it was up to Donna, she’d probably move in with Felicity. Felicity is very busy with her job and has been promoted, and she’s doing so well. It’s really more about how much time Felicity has. Her mom probably also wants to get mani-pedis all the time, and she doesn’t have time for that. They’re still very different.
It seems as though, if Donna were aware of Oliver’s intentions to propose and that the ring was still out there, that she would be rooting them on.
ROSS: Yeah, I think it would be fair to say that Donna would almost have a coronary, if she were to see the ring. She’d probably want to see what size it is and the clarity. Honestly, I think Donna has probably been dreaming of the day, as a lot of mothers do for their daughters, but Donna even more so. Donna is alone and maybe even lives vicariously through Felicity’s happiness sometimes. She just loves her daughter so much, and the journey that they’ve had together, as a single mom with her daughter, she just wants her to be happy. Seeing Felicity really in love for the right reasons and being engaged could be the best thing that’s ever happened to Donna, in her entire life.
Fans of Arrow love Felicity, as a character, and since meeting Donna, they’ve fallen in love with her, as well. And because of all of that, there’s been intense speculation about who Felicity’s father could be, the most recent thought being that maybe it’s Damien Darhk. Whether that’s true or not, will we ever learn any definitive information about who Felicity’s dad is?
ROSS: The producers have said that they are looking into that. As you know, Donna has said that he left them. It’s pretty obvious that he didn’t treat her well and really screwed her over. To the degree of how bad or how evil he is, we don’t know, but he didn’t care about Donna or his daughter growing up, at all. I know the fans are dying to see who he is. I know that Emily [Bett Rickards] are both really eager and excited to meet him and have scenes with him and play that layer of our lives that we haven’t investigated yet on the show. So, I think the writers and producers are really taking their time on it and working on it. I know it’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of when. I can’t wait for that. I’m really excited about it.
Up until now we haven’t gotten to see Donna interact with too many other characters on the show. Will she get to cross paths and interact with some of the other characters, this season?
ROSS: Yes, that whole #SmoaknLance was not for nothing. The fans spoke, after a selfie that we did. Paul’s character has had a long, hard road, too, and people want to see him happy and have a little levity in the seriousness that he has to deal with, every day. And we know that Donna has been screwed over and has had quite a rough road, herself. People relate to life being challenging and hard, and still trying to keep a positive attitude and keep going. If you’re alone, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s fine. But, finding the right person is something that you would really like and hope for. So, I’m really excited to say that we do finally meet in [Episode 406]. Paul [Blackthorne] and I were really excited about that.
You had some fun and funny moments on this show, and you’ve had some very heartfelt moments. Have you had a favorite scene to shoot?
ROSS: This role is so fun and so layered that some of my favorite scenes have been these entrances that Donna makes, in the middle of a serious scene. It’s like she’s walking on the catwalk with a spotlight on her. I just giggle and laugh. Those are really fun to do. But then again, some of my other favorite scenes are when Emily and I are just talking about relationships, and then we walk off in between takes and we say things to each other, because we’re really good friends and we’re really close, about how the dialogue resonates to something that we might be going through in our own lives. We understand what are characters are feeling because it just feels so real. The icing of it all is just the natural chemistry that Emily and I have. We just love working together. There’s such an ease and a comfort. She gets me and I get her, and some of those scenes are just some of my favorites that I’ve ever filmed. It’s just a joy to play this character, for what they’ve written and because of Emily. To be honest, the cast and crew of Arrow really have become part of my family. I get excited every time they call and I get to go up there again. I’m excited that they’ve been doing more with Donna, now meeting Lance and getting to know Oliver more. And of course, with Lance comes meeting his whole family. I’m just grateful for the experience, and on top of it all, I’m grateful for the fans and their welcoming of me. It’s just been really humbling.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.