Arrow's Katherine McNamara Digs Deep Into Oliver and Mia's Father/Daughter Relationship

Katherine McNamara teases Arrow's next episode, which takes Mia and Oliver to Russia for some father/daughter bonding and fighting, and opens up about the last day of production

By Lauren Piester Nov 19, 2019 9:59 PMTags
Arrow, Season 8The CW

Prepare for some serious father/daughter bonding on Arrow, in the form of a Russian fight club. 

"Prochnost" takes Oliver and his newfound family (his adult kids just arrived from the future, no big deal) to Russia to track down a way to going up against the Monitor and deal with the impending Crisis, and that apparently means several things: 1) The return of Oliver's (Stephen Amell) good ol' frenemy Anatoly (David Nykl), and 2) Oliver and Mia (Katherine McNamara) get to show off their fighting skills in an underground fight club.

That's no sweat for Mia, since that is, after all, how we met her in the first place. She spent most of her life training with Nyssa Al Ghul, and she's pretty much a pro-fighter. And her dad's the Green Arrow, so basically this should be a piece of cake. It's those long-buried emotions that are going to be the tough part to deal with. 

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The whole cast is also dealing with their own emotions in real life, as the show just wrapped production on its series finale last week. We hopped on the phone just a couple days after wrap with McNamara to get the scoop on all of it. 

E! News: Is it really strange for you guys to have fully wrapped production?

McNamara: You know, it's funny, 'cause yesterday we had one more pickup day where I shot one scene for episode nine and then insert shots and all of this, and yesterday was just such a short day. It was just fun play time with the crew. But the day before was the big day, the last official day of production when Stephen wrapped, and Emily wrapped, and everybody else. There was one scene in particular that we had so many people in that they series wrapped about 10 people when we finished the scene. And that's when I cried, because there are so many possibilities for the future of what the Arrowverse could be, especially for me, but it will never be the same. This is special, this is unique, and you know, the people are what made that show so iconic, and that was really special to be there for that moment. 

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This next episode is heading to Russia and it looks like there are some really good family moments for Mia and Oliver. Can you talk about what's happening in Moscow? 

It's really great for me, because when I found out who I was on the series, I watched the entirety of the show. At that point, it was six seasons worth of Arrow, and one of my favorite moments was Russia. I was absolutely head over heels for David Nykl. I just think he does such a brilliant job, and Anatoly is so fun. He's a fun character where his loyalty is always switching. They're always wondering whether he's going to appear as a friend or as an enemy, and when I found out I was going to get to work with him, I was simply over the moon. I just think he's absolutely brilliant. 

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Anatoly is such a huge part of Oliver's past, so what can you say about how that factors into the father/daughter bonding? How much is Mia going to learn about his life? 

The thing about this is that Oliver is very aware that if he's bringing his children to Russia, there's a lost of his past that could get exposed that he may or may not necessarily want his kids to be aware of. And he struggles with that, and he tries as any parent would to shield and or protect his kids from discovering his dark past, and whether or not he succeeds will be another story, because he happens to have two very smart, strong-willed children who kind of don't follow instructions all the time. 

But what's great about it too is you get to see Mia follow in his footsteps in many ways in this episode, and you saw a few moments in the trailer that are very indicative of what the entire episode has in store. It's my first episode where I really got to work with Stephen in an extended period of time and a lot of one on one stuff with him. It's such a great episode to get to watch him and be a part of the story in so many iconic ways. 

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When I talked to Ben Lewis, he was saying that you guys didn't really know Stephen that well, so the actors were kind of going through the same thing the characters are going through, getting to know this person they knew so much about without actually knowing them. Did you have that same experience? 

Absolutely. Most of my interactions with Stephen up until that point had been social interactions or show gatherings or wrap parties or things like that, and that's a different experience than when you're spending a day on set with a person. And it was kind of a wonderful way to get to bring the story to life in getting to know Stephen and getting to know the character relationship and getting to build that very organically. And I think it played out really beautifully on screen, and Mia and Oliver have very similar sensibilities, but also there's a lot of Mia's sense of humor that mirrors Felicity. So you get to see quite a bit of banter between the two fo them, and Oliver's trying his best to be a good dad, but Mia will only accept so much help and direction, and she has a mind of her own and Oliver very quickly discovers that, much to his chagrin. 

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Mia has quite the past too, and so far she hasn't been very willing to share that with him. Is she going to get to that point where she feels comfortable opening up to him? 

I mean, at this point Mia isn't very good at emotional conversations. Her childhood was spent Nyssa Al Ghul, who is also not the best at emotions, so it's interesting to get to see that. But what Oliver does get to see in Mia and what she does get to show him is her fighting skills. It's the first time that Oliver really gets to witness Mia do what she does best, and I think it surprises him, and it's definitely a sense of pride for Mia that she gets to show her father, this is what I do, and this is how I do it, and this is my domain. And it's something that the two of them can connect on and relate on, but it's also...she wants to impress her father. She wants to make him proud, and she has many opportunities to do that in this episode. Whether or not she succeeds is another story, but that's to be seen. 

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How does he react to finding out his daughter is this badass fighter? 

I mean, I think he's worried for her, right? He wants her to be safe and wants her to be OK and to not have to fight for her life, but when he sees it, I think it makes him proud. I mean I can't speak for him, but I would like to think that he sees a lot of himself in her and uses this opportunity for the two of them to work together and to build a future together even in the limited time they have. Because of course Oliver knows that his time, at least according to what the Monitor says, his time is potentially coming to an end, whereas Mia doesn't exactly know that or know the exact timeline of that. I think he has a little bit of reassurance that she's gonna be OK no matter what happens. 

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Are Mia and William at all worried about the fact that they were just thrown into the past and they left a whole future behind? 

There's so much going on that they don't really have time to think about that. All they can do to make the future better is to worry about the present or past or whatever...whatever verb tense we're using. Future, past, present, whatever it is, the time that they're currently in is the time they are concerning themselves with, and that's only by nature of the fact that in the hopes of changing the future, maybe they can affect something while they're helping Oliver complete his mission. Plus I think both of them are overwhelmed by the fact that they're actually having a chance to bond with their father in a way they never had the opportunity before. 

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Can you talk at all about the backdoor spinoff you filmed? How much more are we going to get to know Mia? 

I mean, I can say it's very exciting, and very different, and there's really not much else I can say. 

Can you talk instead about the journey that Mia is on for the rest of this season, since we're now halfway through? 

We see Mia grow quite a bit this season, and she's very sure of herself in certain aspects of who she is as a person. She knows she's a fighter, she knows she's competent in that realm, and that is where she finds her strength. It's the other side of who she is, the emotional side, the human side that is underdeveloped at this point, and time and time again—we've seen it in the last couple episodes and we'll continue to see it for the rest of the season--she is, and so is Oliver, they both have a lot to work through when it comes to their relationship. His choice to leave her, her having to grow up without a father, her having to grow up in his shadow, the effect that it had on her mother and on her brother, the fact that she never had a chance to have William in her life because of her father's choices. And there's a lot of resentment there. 

The one thing she's always wanted in her life has been her father, but in her mind, he's also the reason that her life wasn't what it could have been, and being confronted with him and having to deal with that is a lot for her. And it forces both of them to deal with that uncomfortable elephant in the room. And with the tensions as high as they are given the greater world conflict, it brings things to a head over the next couple of episodes, and it forces them both to deal with it in a very direct way and you get to see aspects of their character that you otherwise wouldn't have. And it definitely leaves a mark on both of them. 

Can you tell me everything about the crossover?

That's the one thing I can't discuss, but it is so epic. I was definitely fangirling quite a bit while shooting the crossover. 

Seems like a dream if you're a fan of this kind of thing to get to be on five shows at once. 

It was pretty great. I mean, I got to kind of have this tour of the multiverse, as it were, while shooting it, and getting to work with everyone and kind of witness was really amazing. It's something I'll never forget. 

Arrow airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.