Arrow’s Susanna Thompson Teases Moira’s Stand, New Flashback Episode & More
Arrow fans tuning in to tonight’s “Dodger” episode will see Battlestar Galactica’s James Callis taking on the role of a ruthless Jewel thief named Dodger who keeps his hands clean by getting others to do his dirty work for him.
While Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) tangle with Dodger, Susanna Thompson’s Moira Queen comes to an important decision where Malcolm’s (John Barrowman) stranglehold on her family is concerned.
Terrorized by an encounter with Arrow, and determined to break free from fear, Moira puts a bold plan into action, the repercussions of which will echo through episodes to come.
We sat down with Susanna Thompson earlier today to discuss Moira’s stand, just how her complicated relationships have helped shape her vision and just how close Moira is to realizing who Arrow really is. Susanna also shared some scoop with us on an upcoming flashback episode which will see a pre-shipwreck Robert.
ScreenSpy: In tonight’s “Dodger” episode, Moira is set to make a stand against Malcolm. Is this something that has been a long time coming, or does some pivotal event spark that stand?
Susanna Thompson: She’s going to take a very strong stand. It’s almost like her last resort. She’s decided it’s time and she’s stepping out on a ledge. In “Dodger,” Moira sets a ball in motion that will come to an interesting conclusion in episode sixteen “Dead to Rights.” She’s starting to plot. The audience is going to see some of her strategic thinking which is going to involve an old friend of hers and Robert’s as well. You’ll be surprised to find out who becomes involved with her in that plot.
ScreenSpy: When we first met Moira she was a little ambiguous. We saw a woman who may or may not have been ‘the bad guy.’ She had her son deliberately roughed up, and she was keeping secrets from her family. But with the introduction of John Barrowman’s Malcolm, we saw there were some sound reasons for her behavior. Do you think Malcolm was a necessary character to introduce, in that he allows the audience to see other sides to your character we might not otherwise be privy to?
Susanna Thompson: That’s a really interesting question. His introduction does allow us as actors to explore other sides to our characters, but the writers had Malcolm’s character in mind from the beginning. They have planned quite a bit. Initially, they wanted to leave things open for Moira and I think the pilot set her up to be a very strong interesting mysterious woman. They did have to explore her motivations though. Although it’s interesting to leave an audience with a gasp at the end of the pilot, ultimately an audience is going to want to know why. That was the biggest question posed to me after friends and family watched the pilot. I had to say “Just wait. Just wait. It’s coming!”
I wasn’t quite sure where they were headed with it either. In between the pilot and the series they reevaluated a lot – which is something most shows do. Throughout a first season, most shows will try to find out what’s working and what’s not working. Clearly at this point they’re building on her strengths, and also her reasons for some of her actions. Her truest, strongest motivation for most of it is the love of her children.
ScreenSpy: How would you describe Moira Queen pre versus post Shipwreck?
Susanna Thompson: I think she’s a brave strong woman, but she does have a big ego, and I’m not sure if that ego creates more suffering for people that she may not know. I’m not so sure about the victims she leaves in her wake as she’s trying to save her own neck and her family’s neck. She’s got a keen brain. She thinks quickly on her feet. She’s had to learn more street smarts. You’re going to see more of her and Robert pre-shipwreck. We haven’t filmed it yet, but you’re going to see more of that background in an upcoming flashback episode. I think there was genuine love there with Robert, but at some point they gave up on each other. I think Moira gave up on the relationship, but she didn’t give up on the family and the things they had built together.
I’ve always thought she’s less of who is she now, pre-shipwreck. She lives in a very wealthy elite world, and I have often thought she really loves and takes great pleasure from that world, but from the moment her world starts to turn upside down, she is forced not just into her own strength but also into a position where she can’t trust anyone. And those she does trust are thrust into danger. She’s had to put up some walls with the people that she loves. She has to put on a brave face while her heart is beating fast and her brain is working overtime. So in front of Malcolm, who is the biggest danger in her life, she has to stand her ground. She has no power over him, so she’s always trying to find out where he is, what he knows. So far. he’s several steps ahead of her.
ScreenSpy: Do you think Moira will ever come to realize her son is this hooded Vigilante everyone in Starling City is talking about? And if she does come to realize it, would it drastically change the dynamic of the show?
Susanna Thompson: Some of the characters have already discovered who Arrow really is, and I was quite surprised to read it. I’ve always thought a more interesting angle would be if she were to reach out to Arrow for help. She’s in such a spot where Malcolm is concerned. In answer your question though, I will say this. She doesn’t forget much. And in feeling like she was being threatened by the Arrow, and shooting at him, there are bits and pieces that she puts together later. She’s collecting information right now. How she puts it all together will come in the future.
ScreenSpy: What story elements intrigue you?
Susanna Thompson: I’m interested about what Moira and Robert instilled in her son. Was it just that irresponsible playboy? Or were there some inherent human integrity-filled places that he got from both of them?
ScreenSpy: Actually, I think Moira and Oliver are quite similar. They’re both dealing with dark forces that seem at times likely to overwhelm them. They’re both keeping secrets from their family in order to protect them, and neither is comfortable accepting help from others.
Susanna Thompson: Absolutely. And to a certain extent I think Thea has some of those qualities as well. There are a lot of secrets. There are a lot of individual moral-grounders.
ScreenSpy: Where you surprised by Arrow’s success?
Susanna Thompson: No, I actually wasn’t. I think that coupled with who [director] David Nutter is and what he was trying to create – including the cast and crew – I knew there was something special here. It’s an amazing group of actors and an amazing hardworking talented crew, and we have a stunt team which is raising the bar on television.
Catch Arrow tonight Wednesday February 20 at 8/7c on the CW. Catch a sneak peek from the episode below.