‘Arrow’s Katherine McNamara on the Mia-Oliver Team-Up & ‘Canaries’ Spinoff

Training Day
Jack Rowand/The CW

Like father, like daughter… we like that a lot. Especially when it’s Arrow‘s Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and offspring from the future, Mia Smoak (Katherine McNamara).

Now that they’ve been reunited, thanks to The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) bringing Team 2040 into the present, Mia must deal with the dad she never knew while Oliver must face the music for basically abandoning the now-adult kid nobody knew he had. And in this week’s episode, “Prochnost,” they get a chance to hash out their issues and hand out some ass-kicking after The Monitor dispatches our heroes to Russia.

We caught up with tiny powerhouse McNamara shortly after production on Arrow ended to chat about finally working with her on-screen daddy and what we might expect from the planned Green Arrow and the Canaries spinoff. Plus, of course, we had to ask what she brought from the late, great Shadowhunters to the ever-expanding Arrowverse. Because she is awesome and never forgets the fans.

Hey Kat, how’s it going?

Katherine McNamara: Oh, it’s going great. It’s a little weird, we just wrapped up the show over the last couple of days. I feel like I just did this with Shadowhunters. [Laughs]

But I am sure you still have a lot to do even though the show has wrapped…you’ve done the backdoor pilot, right?

It was kind of crazy. We have so much to do and coming off of the crossover, everybody was already slightly at their wits’ end. But this crew is so amazing. We had to build an entirely brand-new world in about half the time of shooting a normal pilot and they pulled it together. We figured it out and truly, truly made something that I hope people are going to enjoy.

I’m really hoping that it goes forward because you, Juliana Harkavy and Katie Cassidy together is just fire.

Thank you. It’s really different. I think it’s going to be more different than a lot of people expect, but I’m feeling exciting.

OK, so let’s talk about this week’s episode. I’m assuming you’re still on our Earth… do you and Stephen get to get into it? Because these two have a lot to work out.

Oh, we do, trust me. This is one of my favorite episodes of the season, because it’s the first real episode where you get to see Oliver and Mia interacting together, one-on-one, for an entire episode. But not only that, you get to see them on a mission together. You get to see both of them doing what vigilante Queens do best. [Laughs] It’s the first time that Oliver gets to see Mia fight and it’s nerve-wracking, but also exciting for her because she wants to make her father proud and she wants to show him what she can do. But also, Russia is no joke, so it presents challenges of its own.

And what gets you to Russia?

So the next kind of mission, as it were, that The Monitor has sent Oliver on is to go to Russia to retrieve [something] and we have a couple other things to do there as well. Like I said, Russia brings with it its own challenges but the best thing that Russia brings with it is David Nykl, who plays Anatoly. I have been such a huge fan of his since watching the series and when I found out we were doing a Russia episode and that I would get to work with David Nykl, I was so excited!

(Katie Yu/The CW)

Did you actually get scenes with him?

Oh yeah. He’s so wonderful and it is cool because Anatoly, having known Oliver for so long, sees a lot of his qualities in Mia. So they have a little connection as well as the episode goes on.

Sort of like how Laurel clocked the similarities in the last episode. Mia has all of his strengths and all his stubbornness, which means your character is really going to have to learn how to play differently with a new team.

Exactly! And that actually plays into a lot of this episode because Mia has essentially played the Oliver with her team and in those situations, well, you can’t have two captains to a team like this. That kind of power play is interesting. And on top of that, this is the first time for Oliver that he’s been on mission with the kids. There’s an element of him wanting to keep them safe, but he also has to be able to use them for the mission. So what level of trust does he give to his kids?

And with Mia, she’s just lost Zoe and her famous quote is, “I don’t lose.” Well, everybody loses sometimes, so how do I come back from this guilt and from this loss and how do I build my confidence back up?

On a mission with the father you’re mad at!

Yeah, who she also wants to impress. But also that’s the thing with Mia confronting Oliver — her biggest desire in life is to have a relationship with her father and yet now that he’s in front of her, she sees how his choices are the reason that she has a difficult life. And how does that duality play out within her and with Oliver, as well, because the two of them are so similar? They’re bound to butt heads, but who better to give Mia advice on how to get through the difficulties she’s having?

It’s so nuts that you’ve been on the show for almost a year now and this is really the first time you worked with Stephen.

I know. And this episode is the first time you really get to see them have any meaningful interaction and really bond as father-daughter… maybe even side-by-side a little bit in a Russian fighting ring, I don’t know. [Laughs]

(Dean Buscher/The CW)

Back in the ring, huh?

Oh yeah. [Laughs]

Nice. I got an early cut of last season’s finale back in May and it included your giant fight sequence without all the effects. It was just you and the stuntman on the soundstage with wires and wind machines and you were amazing.

Thank you! Thank you so much. I credit all of that to the Shadowhunters stunt coordinators. They spent so much time with me on that show, they would train me three to five times a week. I was in the stunt room with them almost daily and they gave me those skills that I was able to bring to this show.

I’m so grateful to the stunt team on this show too, because they give me the opportunity to use those skills and to get my own fight scenes. This episode, in particular, is one of the ones that I’m most proud of because we actually had time in the schedule and the opportunity for me to do most of the fight pieces. Not the aerial fight pieces, because I’m not a martial artist by trade, that’s not my forte. But a majority of the actual fighting is me in this episode, and I was really happy to be able to do that with Stephen, to dive in there and portray that part of the character. With a character like Clary or Mia, such a part of who they are is their fighting and their physicality and their sense of being a warrior. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Shadowhunters (Freeform)

I can only imagine the stuff that you did in the Canaries backdoor pilot involves all-new fight styles for the three of you?

Oh yeah. It’s great. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Moving forward, Mia is constantly getting new gadgets and skills. With a brother like William (Ben Lewis) who knows Smoak Tech, he is going to create [things for her]. And it’s really interesting to see as she goes through the season and is confronted by new challenges, what skills she has learned from her father.

And how does William fit into all of this? Is he facilitating some sort of truce?

[Laughs] William is definitely the mediator between Oliver and Mia because he knows both of them and he understands both of them and he’s the least hot-headed of the three of them. But Mia and William are not without their tussles as well, particularly as it gets closer to this ticking time-bomb of Crisis and what Oliver knows, or at least what he believes, about his life ending from what The Monitor has said. So the tensions only get higher from here.

You will get to see Mia and William get closer, as well, because both of them are having to deal with the fact that they have issues with their father. That’s how they bonded initially, but now they’re both going through the ringer, trying to grasp some sense of solid ground and dealing with this world that’s ever-changing around them and they become each other’s rock in a sense. And I love Ben Lewis so much. He’s so wonderful.

(Dean Buscher/The CW)

Were you on set for the last day?

For the official-official last day with everybody, yeah. We had big group scenes that day, and Ben and I actually had a pickup day yesterday to shoot another scene from the backdoor pilot together. It was so lovely to get to wrap with him. But I gotta say, it really hit me. There was one scene where we had about, I think 12 or 15 actors in it and when it was done, we series-wrapped about 10 people and that hit me like a brick wall. I’ve made so many wonderful friendships on this show… and I know, yes, there is a potential for a future moving forward, but it’s never going to be quite the same.

Right, it won’t be this one.

Exactly. This show is lightning in a bottle just the same way Shadowhunters was. I feel like I just went through with this with Shadowhunters. But it’s honestly, this has been a huge gift for me because after wrapping Shadowhunters, I never thought I’d be a part of another show that is so iconic, that means so much to people . So to jump into Arrow for this little moment, to get to share this with them? I’m so grateful.

Arrow, Tuesdays, 9/8c, The CW