'Arrow' Director Gregory Smith on "Challenging" Atom Episode, Reuniting With Greg Berlanti

The 'Everwood' alum steps behind the camera for one of the season's biggest episodes: "I had two-and-a-half weeks of stressful, sleepless nights."
Dean Buscher/The CW
Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/The Atom

Rookie Blue star Gregory Smith is stepping behind the camera for Wednesday's Arrow, marking a reunion for the former Everwood star and its creator, Greg Berlanti.

Smith, who played teen Ephram Brown on The WB series from 2002-06, credits Arrow executive producer Berlanti with giving him the directing bug, and is stepping into Starling City for one of the biggest episodes of the season. 

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The episode, "Nanda Parbat," introduces Ray Palmer's (Brandon Routh) superhero alter ego, The Atom, a reveal that has been teased for months, and one that's key to the CW superhero universe ( the character is being eyed for his own spinoff).

In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Smith, who currently plays the energetic cop Dov Epstein on Rookie Blue and has directed five episodes of the ABC series, weighs in on the pressure he felt to get the episode right, what reuniting with Berlanti was like and the Netflix regimen he put himself on to prepare.

How does this compare to directing Rookie Blue?

Technically, it's quite a challenging show. And I think that's true for every episode. There were a lot of big set pieces.

What was it like reuniting with Greg Berlanti?

Working with Greg Berlanti is where I first caught the directing bug and sort of really learned about storytelling. Greg and [Everwood executive producer] Mickey [Liddell] both nurtured that in me. We sort of kept in touch and I started directing Rookie Blue and Saving Hope and I saw Gregg a year-and-a-half ago and he asked if I would be interested in Arrow. I was flattered by his trust in me.

How much time did you have to prepare?

You get basically seven days of prep. We prepped this episode before the Christmas break and we shot it after. I had two-and-a-half weeks of stressful, sleepless nights. I knew four or five months before I started working on the show, so I watched every episode in sequence to understand the show on a deeper level.

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This is such a huge episode for the series. Do you know what the process was for selecting you for it?

Really what drove that decision was the dates, because I was filming Rookie Blue and this was during a time frame where I can do it. Beyond that I'm not really sure how they break the season and the stories, and how those decisions are all made.

How much of the season did you know ahead of time? Did you know stuff like Oliver's "death" was coming?

No. I was just watching the show on Netflix and then I was watching it on TV like everyone else. It's kind of cool, because you kind of get to experience like a fan.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch

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