With the firth season of The CW’s Arrow soon to be available on Blu-ray and DVD, we were lucky enough to grab some time with one of the show’s new additions, Juliana Harkavy, to discuss her character of Dinah Drake, becoming a card-carrying member of Team Arrow, and what lies ahead for the series as its sixth season gets set to premiere next month.
STARBURST: Were you much of a fan of Arrow and comic books in general before landing the role of Dinah Drake?
Juliana Harkavy: Well, my father worked for DC Comics when I was a kid, so I was always exposed to this universe. I was always intrigued by it but I was never an avid comic book fan, but I did feel a connection to it. The show itself, I had watched a little bit of it, but only because I’d worked with Audrey who plays Lyla, only because I’d worked with her on The Walking Dead. So I started watching for her.
How was the process of landing the Dinah role?
It was very fast and intense and exciting. It was all done within four days; I had my audition on a Tuesday or something, then I was in Vancouver first thing on Saturday morning. It was a whirlwind. And I didn’t know what the role was until I got it, so I was sort of auditioning blind.
Once you realised it was Dinah Drake, did you decide to research the comic book character or did you decide to almost go in cold?
I did a little bit of both. After I found out who the character was and I realised it was such an iconic character, I did go and look at the comics to try and find inspiration there; very small things, things I could draw from the comics. Then it was also important to try and make it my own, so it was kind of a little bit of both.
You mentioned how you realised how big the character was. With shows like Arrow, there’s a huge fandom behind it. How’s that been for you, and have you been taken aback a little bit by just how passionate people are about the likes of Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl?
Yeah, I was taken aback, but in a good way, though. It was cool to see people cared so much. Whether people had a positive or negative reaction to my character, it was just good to see that people are impassioned about it, that they care at all. It’s okay, you don’t have to love every character to love a show or care about it so much. As an actor, that’s very important and it feels good to be part of something like that. And also, they’ve been overwhelmingly positive. There’s been very little negativity, there’s been a lot of love, and it’s a really incredible fanbase. I’ve really started to care about them a lot.
When did the realisation really hit that you were now playing a bona fide superhero?
Well, the first time I did a Canary Cry was pretty awesome. They moved people back with ropes and there’s sparks flying, so it feels like you’re really doing it. It was a cool thing because the first time I did it everybody clapped, so it was sort of like an introductory moment for the character and for myself on the set. So that felt real, this feels real. Then when I put the suit on for the first time, that solidified it and I really felt like a hero.
Of course, there’s been two previous Canaries in the shape of Caity Lotz’s Sara Lance and Katie Cassidy’s Laurel Lance, but did you look to pull any inspiration from those two actors and characters in your own take on Black Canary?
You know, I didn’t see too many of their performances before I started shooting. Again, it was more one of those things that as I watched the show, little by little, as I kept going, I saw what they were doing and I started to understand the differences between them so that I could give Dinah her own voice and her own journey. It’s not something I try to watch too closely because I don’t think it should be about comparing, it should be more about honouring what Dinah is going through right now.
Now that you’ve officially joined the cape ‘n’ tights club, what can we expect from the currently-shooting Season 6?
We’re shooting right now, episode four. I think Season 6 is going to be a lot about rebuilding and coming together. People are going to be quite shaken up after what happened on the Island. So it’s going to be a lot of rebuilding and re-growing and everybody becoming stronger in their own way because of it.
For Dinah this season, there’s the prospect of more interaction with Team Arrow, the return of Katie Cassidy as Black Siren, and even rumours of a possible love interest for her. What’s got you most excited about this new season right now?
I’m really excited to keep building physically and getting stronger and training more. I’m also excited to have Katie there. That’s really exciting, so I’m really looking forward to that. That’s always fun. Then, you know, just really getting closer to the team; the team solidifying and becoming more with the new recruits and forming a new bond together. And that also happens on set, we’re actually becoming closer as a family in real life on set. So I’m excited to see that journey on the screen.
On a personal level, do you see this as a chance to put yourself out there as a role model for young children and young girls as such a strong female character?
Absolutely. I have to say, that’s probably the most important part of all of this for me. While we’re working in make-believe, it feels real to the little kids who look up to this character, to the little girls who look up to her as this strong woman. Of everything I’m doing on the show, that means the most to me as it can change a kid’s life. I remember it changed my life, the actors I looked up to when I was little. It makes a big difference to them. So that’s the biggest honour I have on the show, being able to be a role model for little children and little girls.
You mentioned earlier that you worked with Audrey Marie Anderson on The Walking Dead when you two were tied to the villainous Governor for a while. How was that as an experience to be involved in another hugely popular show?
It was an incredible experience. It was so much fun. It was a really good introduction to Arrow, which I didn’t even know I was preparing for at the time. It kind of exposed me to that big larger than life fanbase and the comic book world in a way that it was just two episodes but it was such a welcoming experience. Walking Dead, it was there as a stepping stone, yeah.
Season 5 of Arrow is currently available on Digital Download, with a Blu-ray and DVD release to follow on September 18th.
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