'Arrow' Q&A: Susanna Thompson Talks Moira Queen Twist
(Spoiler Alert: This story contains major plot details from the Wednesday, April 23 airing of “Arrow.” This is your last chance to stop reading and bookmark this link to visit later if you want to watch the episode first.)
“Arrow” delivered a heartbreaking twist on Wednesday night, when one of the show’s most beloved characters was killed off.
The CW show said goodbye to Susanna Thompson’s Moira Queen who was killed by Slade (she sacrificed herself for her children).
Her exit left her cast crushed. Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen) Tweeted, “Tonight’s episode broke my heart,” and Colton Haynes wrote on Instagram that Susana is “one of the most incredible” people he’s met “over the years.”
In a new interview with AccessHollywood.com, the classy and elegant Susanna spoke about “Arrow’s” big Season 2 twist and her final scenes.
AccessHollywood.com: I was so sad when I saw what happened.
Susanna Thompson: I know. You’re not the only one. I haven’t seen it yet… but I’ve been – you should’ve been on set. That was hard.
Access: I do a lot of interviews about a show that is very well known for killing off characters — ‘Game of Thrones’ — and based on those conversations, it made me wonder how they structured your exit on ‘Arrow.’ Was this your last day [the death scene]?
Susanna: No, no, they didn’t and unfortunately I don’t know the ‘Game of Thrones.’ David Nutter, our pilot director, was like aghast that I’m one of the few people that don’t watch it and I knew early on that I wouldn’t watch it because of the gore, but David was saying, ‘Oh, it’s right up your alley, Susanna. You would love it. You should be on it.’ It’s like, ‘No, that’s okay. I don’t need the violence in my life, thank you.’ But that’s interesting. I didn’t know that they killed characters off quite regularly.
Access: They do and in one instance, shooting the death scene was, sadly, the last scene one actor did on the show.
Susanna: Everything is based on schedule with ‘Arrow,’ everything with the filming and Mark Bunting, the [Assistant Director] for that particular episode, said, ‘Susanna, I’m sorry, but we have to film it the second day.’ And I said, ‘Well, at least it’s not the first day, Mark.’ And it was at the end of the day on the second day of filming and it was dark and rainy and wet and muddy and late and it was all very fitting for that particular scene and everybody came ready to play, everybody sort of treated it very sacredly, actually. There was a sense of… honoring me, as an actor and what we were all about to do for this character.
Access: What was your last scene?
Susanna: I had two last scenes. I was wrapped from the main unit on [the] Friday and my last day on the main unit was with [actress] Anna Hopkins, and so that’s where I pay off [the woman carrying Oliver’s child, who Anna was playing]. She’s a lovely actress. … She had no idea that it was real. She read the script, but she didn’t believe that they were killing me until the whole crew surrounded me with flowers and clapping and applause and she was in shock, apparently. She wrote me a long email when she got back to her hotel room saying, ‘I had no idea, and one of the reasons I was doing the show is I wanted to work with you and I was so happy that I was going to get to work with you.’ And, she just wished me the best. … And then, I wrapped second unit with Thea interrupting my press interview in the house and so Willa [Holland] … she was with me my last scene and when Mark Bunting whispered in her ears that it was sort of the window shot, she burst into tears, and I was like, ‘Oh dear. Mark, why did you do that?’ and then again more flowers. My hotel room looked like a hospital room. It was crazy, and I kept telling people, ‘No more. No more. I can’t travel with them.’ So, it was very nice and the cast and various crew members took me out to dinner. And, you know, it’s two years of relationships and when you work in a different city than your home, you create bigger relationships.
Access: You and Stephen had that great scene where Moira told Oliver she knew his secret. That had to have been tough.
Susanna: Oh, that was a beautiful, beautiful. … You just get to certain places in the character and in various episodes where your guard is completely down and the truth has to come through and they had already gotten there in [the episode] where Thea was kidnapped, and so Moira, just the truth of who she is and talking about her impact, you know, ‘you’re always worried what the world’s going to do to your children, but you don’t think about what you’re going to do to your children.’ And so that place was already like opened up and now, you get to this other place, where she expresses what she knows. We were both excited because both Stephen and I believed that Moira knew for a while. The writers weren’t convinced of it, I don’t think, and they had to make sense of it… they had to go back and piece it together and figure out where she could have known. And that’s what they came up with for that scene. But I think the most emotional scene for Stephen and I was the flashback scene up on the landing.
Access: Where he gets emotional and he’s like, ‘I’m not ready to be a dad.’
Susanna: Yep, because not only is it what’s happening for Oliver, the two actors, also, are going back to the pilot, which was intentional to have those words be spoken again of, ‘My beautiful boy.’ And she spoke that when she saw Oliver for the first time after him being rescued. So it was on many levels — it was character and actor, actors experiencing this. And I really couldn’t talk to him because I would have just lost it. I couldn’t talk to Stephen as a person. I had to just keep focus because I was having different sensorial memories, and then adding that to the scene and Doug [Aarniokoski], our director, was just so happy with it. He felt like it was just this tiny, tiny, private, private little moment that we were all getting a chance to glimpse.
Access: So true.
Susanna: I think what’s satisfying for Stephen and I, is that we’ve always believed — and the writers created this — that Oliver and Moira have had this genuine connection with each other from day 1, and it’s all these different life moments that sort of put these obstacles in there for them. But this is a moment where you get to see how close they are.
Access: How do you feel about Moira going out a hero? Some people want to say she’s a villain, but I’ve actually just seen her as troubled.
Susanna: I have always thought of her as troubled as well. Her choices are definitely not the choices I would have made as a person, but the writers had talked about a season of redemption and I think this was the ultimate [moment] of redemption. It really was and they didn’t know how they would have her die and when Andrew [Kreisberg, ‘Arrow’s’ Executive Producer] and I were chatting, when he first let me know what was happening, he was throwing around a couple of ideas to me and I said to him, ‘Just please listen to me — you’ve said for two years now that everything she does is motivated by the love of her children. Please let her go out saving her children and not some other character, or make it a storyline where she could at least embrace the image of motherhood because that’s where you have written her. At least honor that motherhood part of her.’ And they did. They did it beautifully.
Access: Obviously they set it up that you could come back in flashbacks…
Susanna: I guess anything’s possible (laughs). They haven’t come ringing my bell yet, so I guess anything’s possible on this show. This is a first for me, having a character die, but it also is clearly a show that has flashbacks, so who knows.
“Arrow” continues Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
-- Jolie Lash
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