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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 April 2019

MEFCC 2019: 'Arrow' star Katie Cassidy on her scream of a career

From a slasher-film scream queen to a supersonic-voiced superhero, the star's tonsils have done some work

Dubai, April 12, 2019. MEFCC day 2- Katie Cassidy, actress. Victor Besa/The National. Section: AC Reporter: Chris Newbould
Dubai, April 12, 2019. MEFCC day 2- Katie Cassidy, actress. Victor Besa/The National. Section: AC Reporter: Chris Newbould

Arrow star Katie Cassidy has taken her early career status as a “scream queen” to quite literal levels with her role in the CW’s DC adaptation. Her early years in movies were marked by a number of appearances in horror movies including the 2006 Canadian cult hit Black Christmas and the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Having established herself as a metaphorical scream queen in such slasher staples, she took things a stage further in 2012 – her Arrow character Black Canary, aka Laurel Lance, is a superhero whose most powerful weapon is an awesome sonic scream that can destroy objects and even kill. I ask Cassidy whether she had long harboured a desire to base her career on being “the screamy lady".

“I didn’t know early on in my career, I just looked for projects that were character-driven,” the actress laughs. “When Arrow came along I did want to do action, so I looked into the character of the Black Canary and observed some of her characteristics in the comics, so obviously I knew screaming was going to be an aspect, but it wasn’t a planned thing.”

Katie Cassidy in Arrow. Courtesy The CW Television Network
Katie Cassidy in 'Arrow'. Courtesy The CW Television Network

In fact, Cassidy reveals that she actually does very little screaming on the set of the long-running show, which saw her killed off in season four, only to be brought back in season six as Canary’s doppelganger from an alternate universe, Black Siren.

“When my character first evolved into The Black Canary, I was thinking a lot about how to do it,” she reveals. “We were shooting a lot outside at night, and when I had to scream for the very first time I thought, first of all, how are my vocal chords going to hold up to this, and second, am I going to wake up the whole neighbourhood? So I chose to keep it like a silent scream and we add it in post. It was the only way I could do it without destroying my voice.”

Cassidy also admits that when she learned her character was being written out of the show in season four, she didn’t take it too well.

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“I didn’t know until two episodes before that I was going to be the one to die. It was hard. I’d put my soul into the show, blood, sweat and tears. Of course I was professional and I’d always support the show, but I was really sad. I get why they did it. As a producer or writer, killing one of the main characters off serves as a jumping-off point for the other characters, but I didn’t like it.”

Fortunately for the star, after less than a one-season break, the show’s writers clearly felt their shrill-voiced heroine was not so disposable. They took viewers to “Earth 2", from whence Black Siren travelled to our own world to fill in for the missing Canary, first in season two of The Flash, and then in some episodes of season five of Arrow. Cassidy returned to the full cast for season six.

This in itself presented a challenge for the actress. Although Siren looks like the Canary, and has similar powers and skillsets, she’s a very different personality.

While the Canary version of Lance is a crime fighter, Siren is less morally pure, while her relationships with the show’s other characters have changed, too.

“It was strange. I recall season six, I think, I was doing scenes with Paul Blackthorne who plays my father, and we were so used to playing this father and daughter dynamic, and when I started playing scenes with him as Black Siren it was confusing," she says. “We were both confused because she’s from Earth 2, and her father looks like Quentin, but he’s not Quentin. It’s complicated, but it’s interesting.”

Finally, following the critical and commercial success of Shazam in theatres, I ask Cassidy if she thinks we can expect to see more of DC’s less well-known characters joining the main Worlds of DC cinema universe, perhaps including her as Black Canary, or indeed Siren.

“It’s an interesting idea. I don’t feel that there are any rules whether it’s TV or film,” she says. “I would love to be involved. Maybe it’s time for a Black Canary film – it’s a time for women right now and I think it would be really interesting. I don’t know if that makes sense to Warner Bros, but I’d love to do it.”

Updated: April 13, 2019 09:32 AM

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