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The face behind the Black Canary mask is a familiar one, and as season two of The CW’s Arrow unfolds, the twists keep on coming.
Who is that familiar face? Sara Lance, Laurel Lance’s sister, who was thought to be dead following the sinking of the Queen’s Gambit. But her return to Starling City is fraught with complications. With Oliver in the know, her family still in the dark and Black Canary connected to the dangerous League of Assassins (with ties to Ra’s al Ghul), the latest episode — appropriately titled “League of Assassins” — unearths more of Sara/Black Canary’s mysterious past.
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In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, actress Caity Lotz — who plays Black Canary/Sara Lance — discusses the surprising reveal, the ramifications of holding the secret from her family, Sara’s five years away, and the dangers of being tied to the League.
When you were cast as Black Canary, did you know what her identity would be and where she was headed?
No, I had no idea. I actually auditioned for a character named Lisa. (Laughs.) There were fake sides, even what I was reading wasn’t the actual character. I had no idea, I just thought I was playing some character named Lisa and then afterwards, I met with [executive producer] Andrew Kreisberg and he told me about it and, yeah, I was really excited.
They looped you in pretty early on it sounds like …
Yeah, they had to so I could prepare the character and really figure out who she is. I got to know the secrets ahead of time.
Did you glance at the pilot to see how Sara Lance was portrayed then? (The part was played by another actress.)
No, not at all. I watched the pilot and it was great, but I felt Sara differently and since we were reshooting it, I was going to be able to make her how I wanted her to be.
How did the producers describe Black Canary/Sara to you?
The producers were really cool about letting me develop her how I wanted to. They were really good about giving me the backstory of what’s going on and where she was headed so that I could create a character that fit their writing. I know “badass” was a word they used. (Laughs.)
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The reveal that Sara is alive puts Oliver, who has agreed to hold Sara’s secret, in an interesting place. What are the repercussions should Laurel and her father find out the truth?
It’s pretty easy to imagine all the ways it could go. You definitely have to watch the next episode. It’s a really great Canary one and it answers a lot about her backstory. You get a deeper look into Sara and what happened to her. It’s really interesting because there’s so many secrets behind her and even as things unfold, you still have so many questions about her. Her relationship with Oliver and how the secret’s affecting him and how it’s affecting her family, the dynamics that come out of it are really exciting. You’ll get to know more about that in the next episode.
How difficult is it for Oliver and Sara to keep this secret? Do people close in on the truth?
I think Oliver and Sara are so weighed down with secrets. They say you’re only as sick as your secrets. Both of them have a lot of secrets, some of them are shared and both have [some] on their own. Sara coming back brings another weight onto Oliver and it’s definitely going to question his dynamic with Laurel and Quentin and how to handle it. I like that that they share that together, that they have this shared history that nobody else knows about or understands.
Oliver and Sara had a real genuine moment at the hospital in last week’s episode. Was that a highlight?
That scene you’re talking about I liked a lot because it showed Oliver so genuine and you kind of see a little bit of the darkness of Sara because she doesn’t even fully trust him and he’s just open and kind and trying to help her [in that moment]. Sara hasn’t seen that in a long time, and for her it’s a big shock and she doesn’t know how to accept it. When she does, it’s a really big step for her.
How surprising is Black Canary’s past?
It is constantly a surprise for me. All of a sudden I’ll get a new script or one of the producers will talk to me and it’s like the shock of something new they’ve created for the character. (Laughs.) The show evolves while it’s going, so there are a lot of new discoveries that even the writers are finding so I’m constantly surprised. Where they’re taking the character is impressive.
She’s tied to the League of Assassins, which doesn’t make Oliver’s life as Arrow any easier. What are the ramifications of Black Canary being connected to the league?
That’s another one that will get touched on in [episode] 205. We’ll get another sneak at the League of Assassins. They’re the deadliest of the deadly, so it definitely doesn’t make Oliver’s life any easier. It’ll bring a new villain that might be coming into the city.
Oliver has declared that he won’t kill anymore, but with Black Canary around, how difficult is that going to be?
With or without Canary, that’s a difficult thing, but as of now, Canary’s M.O. doesn’t include not killing. That’s a foreign concept to her. Where she’s been trained, killing is all but necessary in her mind. Those philosophies will come at odds between the two of them.
Is there a distinct turn we’ll see in regards to how Sara became this way?
It’s definitely an accumulation of a bunch of different moments. I don’t think in anyone’s life it’s just one thing that made them who they are. In the five years that Sara’s been gone, she’s been through a lot, and the next episode will really dig into that a lot, but it’s still only the tip of the iceberg of everything that’s happened to Sara and what’s made her who she is now.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
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