April 24, 2013 8:30am PT by Philiana Ng
'Arrow's' Emily Bett Rickards on Intense Final Episodes: 'Hopefully You Don't Have a Stroke'
Felicity Smoak isn't just an IT girl, she's turning into one valuable asset on Arrow.
After starting off on The CW superhero drama as a supporting player, the doe-eyed, socially inept tech whiz aiding Oliver Queen/Arrow (Stephen Amell) with his technological inefficiencies became a fan favorite, to the point where producers made Felicity part of the series' central mythology -- and promoted actress Emily Bett Rickards to series regular status.
For Rickards, the response was a shock to the system. "I didn't really understand what a fanbase meant," Rickards admits to The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm glad I'm playing a character who's intelligent and brave and facing huge situations, and being real in how she's facing them."
One of the few people aware of Oliver's double life, Felicity will be facing another big test when she heads back out onto the field, a task she's (hopefully) better prepared for in her second go-around. In a chat with THR, Rickards previews Felicity's return to danger, more "Olicity" moments and why viewers should prepare themselves for the final episodes of the season.
The Hollywood Reporter: Congratulations on becoming a series regular for season two. Have you thought about what next season could bring for you and your character?
Emily Bett Rickards: I get to learn more about Felicity. It's funny when I wrapped on Friday (April 12), I was like, "Wait a second, so am I saying goodbye to her for three months? How does that work?" I'm playing with that right now. I'd be so sad if I had to say goodbye forever. I'd probably be crying right now.
THR: Can you talk a little bit about the Oliver and Felicity moments? Those tend to bring out another side to Oliver that we don't see a lot of.
Rickards: The moments between Oliver and Felicity, they're interesting because they really organically happened when Stephen and I are on-set. Stephen and I don't talk about "Olicity," and Felicity and Oliver don't talk about Olicity. It's really interesting. I've never been able to explore a character this deeply especially going into the second season. Those moments are proof of a friendship, which is important in any relationship too, that's just going to grow and become stronger and more honest.
THR: Felicity gets back into the field in an upcoming episode. What should we expect there?
Rickards: She ventures out once again. We saw in episode 15, she was all dolled up in an art gallery with her bomb collar and that was the first time we saw Felicity in the field, which she didn't quite like because she had a bomb collar around her neck. She volunteers to do it again in episode 21. There's a huge period of time [between], and she's been training with Diggle (David Ramsey) and Oliver, learning more and she's significantly more involved since [episode] 15 for her own morals and judgments. She's changing in how she looks at things. She's becoming more emotionally involved in what is going on with the undertaking, the book, the Glades. She wants to protect people who are going out in the field. She puts her life at risk. She's not working behind a computer, she's dealing with people, which is hard for her.
THR: With her being so socially awkward?
Rickards: She's extremely socially awkward, but I think that's why it's so important for her to go out. You go and you face your fears, and that's maybe the simplest fear -- not to be underrated -- because there are lives at stake and there are guns all around. There are a lot of armed people around, lots of danger when she goes out and she's doing it by herself, so that'll be interesting for the audience.
THR: Will she get herself into a bind?
Rickards: She needs help and she gets help. You've seen her do a little bit of training. You've seen her fall on a mat with Diggle and Oliver, but what we can expect, looking at Felicity she's not going to be able to take on a big, bulky guy. There's just no way. She's going to need help if she gets into a terrible situation which might happen.
THR: Will different shades of Felicity be uncovered?
Rickards: What I like about when she goes out the second time, she is able to fully commit. She becomes braver, she realizes she can play a character and do this, that she doesn't have to be herself.
THR: It seems like on any given day, one other person is let in on Oliver's secret that he's Arrow. Is there a limit to how many people can know?
Rickards: In "The Huntress Returns" we had Felicity, Diggle, Tommy (Colin Donnell) and Helena (Jessica De Gouw) all on-set and in the same scene -- we're coming in and out of the Foundry -- and you could just see Oliver be like "There are too many people who know my secret!" That's extremely dangerous for his protection and our protection. He's playing a dangerous game with people he's telling.
THR: How would you describe the final episodes of the season?
Rickards: When we get to episode 22, Stephen has said this too: It is so big that it can be the finale. You would expect that to be the end, and then we're going to episode 23, and it's even bigger. If we ran both episodes 22 and 23 on the same night, there'd be a lot of strokes happening. [Laughs]
THR: Any specific moments you can point to?
Rickards: There are some Olicity moments, don't worry, and there's a really nice Diggle/Felicity moment too. You get to see her be introduced to a few more characters on the show. I can tell you she doesn't meet Roy [Harper, played by Colton Haynes]. People are expecting her to meet Roy in this season and she doesn't.
THR: Where does Felicity end up at the end of the season?
Rickards: The season finale's called "Sacrifice." If the audience wants to play treasure hunter and really look at the title, every single character in the show is sacrificing something huge. I think every scene you break down, there's a huge sacrifice. You guys will be invested in it, and heartbroken and moved and hopefully you don't have a stroke.
THR: Have the producers given any clues as to what's in store for Felicity and Oliver's partnership in season two?
Rickards: What I know is she's a strong part of that team. She is Team Vigilante, Team Arrow. She is that and I know that. I haven't been given any clues about Olicity, I don't know who Felicity is going to be meeting.
THR: What do you want to see in the new season?
Rickards: I want to see Felicity's home life. I would love for the fans to see her -- for my own selfish purposes -- do some combat. I would love to work with our stunt director.
Arrow airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on The CW.