Is there something in the water in Hollywood lately? Actors leaving long-running franchises are starting to spill the tea – and we love it! First, there was John Boyega’s string of candid post-Star Wars interviews and no-fs-to-give social media posts, and now Stephen Amell is getting frank about his time on Arrow.
The CW star was a guest on this week’s episode of Inside of You with Smallville alum Michael Rosenbaum, where he opened up about the rigors of leading an hour-long series for eight years, his frustrations with the CW crossovers, and his reasoning for staying on the series longer than he originally wanted to.
The episode was recorded in two parts, as Amell had to abruptly leave around the 30-minute mark due to a panic attack. Before the attack, he discussed the emotional and physical toll the end of the CW superhero series had taken. "I've cried twice today. I'm worried that I'm going to cry during this podcast,” he told Rosenbaum. “I've really, really been struggling with the end of the show. I'm mentally exhausted and my wife forced me to go the doctor's today because she was worried that something was actually wrong with me...I was literally sitting on the ground. I've gone down a couple of times in the last few weeks. A couple of weeks ago my family was going out to Palm Springs and I just looked at my wife and said, 'I can't even get myself off the ground right now.’ Laid on the couch for two days, didn't eat. I'm in a state of mourning and it's really tough."
Amell wrapped Arrow mid-November, signed onto an upcoming Starz series, and went straight into promotion for Code 8 – the film he produced and starred in with his cousin, Robbie Amell. "I feel as though I need to mentally reset,” he said. “I just feel like I've been trying to do things for people for the past eight years and I just need a f*cking break. I want to be a dad. I want to be a husband. I don't even want to talk to my friends that much. I just need a break."
A few minutes later, Amell said he was sweating and not up to continuing the podcast. "Honestly, man, I think I might be sick. I might have to cut this short; I’m not feeling well at all…I just need fresh air."
He returned a few weeks later to finish the podcast and discuss what happened with Rosenbaum. “I left here, I walked home – you pulled up beside me and tried to drive me home. I got home and got on the couch, put a blanket over me and was freezing but sweating bullets. I told my wife ‘I had a really bad panic attack.’”
He added, “I was pretty positive there was nothing physically wrong with me. But as we discussed, the leaving of the show, combined with just not really breaking away from it in my life…it was like I needed this clean break. I needed to go on a trip. I needed to drop my phone. I just hadn’t disconnected.”
Despite being in a better state of mind, Amell didn’t hold back his frustrations with Arrow and shooting the annual multi-show superhero crossover. For this year’s event, he had to shoot a death scene – and it didn’t go the way he’d like.
"They were trying to wrap Caity [Lotz] and Grant [Gustin] because they had hit their 13-hour mark…before I shot the coverage of the scene where I died,” he said. “The f*cking Green Arrow is lying on a gurney trying to deliver his lines to something other than a f*cking tennis ball. So there are lots of scenes where I'm acting and there's not other actors there. And that's just not an acceptable way of creating the best product, from my perspective. And I think it's a little bit disrespectful to the actors and their process, speaking personally."
He was also blunt about his reasons for coming back for a final, shortened season of Arrow.
"There was a lot of issues going back for Season 8 for me just because I thought that [Season] 7 was the logical conclusion," he said. "I was ready to move on and then I got the proverbial 'offer that I couldn't refuse.' They say, 'Well, you'll have to shoot 22 episodes with us [for Season 7]...which is July through April. Are you really telling us you want to do 22 at Price X and finish in April, and not do 32 at this price, and be done in October?' Because if you're renegotiating, they change your episodic fee. I looked at it, and it would have been fiscally irresponsible for me to say no. Just fiscally irresponsible. I loved the sh*t out of Season 8, I had a blast, but I was there for the money. More so than I had ever been."
He added, "It was Greg Berlanti who came with the lifestyle offer of 'What if such a thing as a half-season existed for you?' And it was like 'Well yeah,' because I wanted to go on a trip with my family. But then the moment that I stepped back on set, there was just a part of me that was like, 'I think I stayed a little too long.'"
Amell has previously stated that in his mind, Arrow ended after Season 7, telling reporters at the TCAs, "I think that the show, as people have understood it and its structure I think it ended in our Season 7 finale. This year is fundamentally different. The episodes are events. And, to me, the show, as we constructed it, ended when Emily [Bett Rickards] left."
The series finale of Arrow airs Tuesday, January 28. It will be preceded by a one-hour retrospective. Listen to the Inside of You podcast here.
I did Rosey’s podcast after Arrow ended. We had to cut it short because I had a full on panic attack. It wasn’t pretty. I came back a few weeks ago to chat about it. I was in a really bad spot and I’m happy to report that I’m doing much better. Listen please 🙂 https://t.co/bpnUDqtQZN
— Stephen Amell (@StephenAmell) January 21, 2020