Stephen Amell - 'Queer As Folk Saved My Acting Career'

Stephen Amell stars as crime fighting superhero Oliver Queen in the new CW series Arrow this fall, his first time as the lead in a primetime series.

The hunky actor chatted with AfterElton about how Queer As Folk saved his acting career and his disappointment that he wasn’t going to be having sex with men on Hung.

Here is an excerpt of the interview from AfterElton.
Nice! Speaking of your IMDb page, you’ve done so many different things, whether it’s on Dante’s Cove, Hung and I saw you were a spinning instructor on Queer as Folk?
First job ever.
Was it really?
Yeah. I had been acting for four months. I had never gotten a job yet, and I said to my agent, because I was a spinning instructor at the time, I said, ‘If I don’t get this job, I quit,’ figuring that me being a spinning instructor would be totally important. It wasn’t important at all, but I did get the job.
What was your experience like on Dante’s Cove?
(Amell played Adam during season 1)

At first it was a horrible experience because we had a terrible director. They fired him. They brought on a really great guy. Then the following year they wanted to take the Adam character…he obviously was not straight any more. Then I booked [the movie] Closing the Ring, and I put in that I couldn’t do it. So they cast Jon Fleming. I’m still friends with Charlie David.
It seems like it’s not really that long ago but there you were playing on a gay-centric show, and I would guess some people – agents and managers – might say, ‘Hey, early in your career…you’ll get pigeonholed.’ But obviously that didn’t happen.
No. It didn’t happen at all. One of the things that I liked on Hung, which we didn’t get a chance to explore in the fourth season [the show was cancelled after season 3] was Jason Does Dudes. Male prostitution is part and parcel of the whole thing, and we didn’t get to explore that. But clearly we would have, and I would have been more than comfortable shooting that because it’s HBO, and it would have been real and that would have been that.
What was the number one appeal of doing Arrow?
Playing a superhero on TV. For sure. I always wanted to play a villain, but then I read the pilot and the pilot is unflinching. I mean, I kill a guy with my bare hands. I don’t want to, but I have an ultimate goal and he’s collateral damage. It’s acceptable. It’s an acceptable loss. It weighs on me, but it’s acceptable. When I read the pilot I had a picture of it in my head, and it was exactly as I wanted it to be. Then when I spoke with the producers and the director and I asked them what their vision was, the two synched up perfectly. So then I got really excited.

Would you say with a show like this sometimes the line between good and evil is not really that far apart?
[Nods] I’d love it to be blurred all the time. For example, my buddy on the show, Tommy [Merlyn], played by Colin Donnell…there’s a lineage towards Merlyn, who’s the Arrow’s nemesis. I would love for him to play such a great villain and have such convincing points that some people would be, ‘Merlyn’s kind of got a point.’ I mean, that’s awesome. I hope that people always respect what Oliver’s doing, but not everyone has to like it. And I’m fine with that. 
You’re a very fit guy, but is there physical stuff you’re doing that you’re shocked you’re doing…that you’re able to do or that they’re letting you do?
Getting into Parkour and all that free running business…that was pretty cool because you take lessons at that and try new things. Then they’ll just go, ‘Okay, challenge.’ And you’ll do something in that challenge that you’ve never done. You’ll probably fail, and fall, and whatever. But it’s a great way to learn. We shot something in the second episode where I’m working with knives and there’s a very impractical way of climbing a rope. You get this adrenaline that’s going and you’re shooting it. And then the next day you hurt. Bad. 
Now, the one thing that we see you do in the pilot…
…the salmon ladder. Yeah. 
Is that something you had done before?
No. I didn’t go to the gym with Hung and all that stuff. I stayed fit, but it wasn’t for any purpose. When I got this part, it was training for a purpose. I actually got a little bit bigger in the pilot than I wanted to get so I’m a little bit smaller now and leaner and a little bit more functional. But I did have a chin-up bar in my house so I was good at chin-ups. What the salmon ladder ostensibly is, it’s a chin-up dance move, where if you just tried to force it, it’s almost impossible. You have to move your body, then react back and go. It looks harder than it is, which is good. Don’t tell anyone.
More at AfterElton.