Editor’s Note: this interview contains potential spoilers for the season premiere of Arrow. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! OK? Great.
Arrow is getting a little more terrific this season.
Ever since Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) was first introduced in early season four, fans have been anxiously awaiting the moment that he’d bring his DC Comics destiny to life as Mister Terrific. But so far, the only similarities to Michael Holt that Curtis has shown off on The CW series is his amazing brain and Olympic-level athleticism—not his fighting skills. But when Nerdist spoke with Kellum about the upcoming season of Arrow and his new promotion to series regular, he revealed something that is sure to excite comic book fans.
“He’s definitely going to become Mister Terrific this season,” Kellum said. “I can’t wait for people to see it and I can’t wait to see how he grows within that. It’s going to be a fun journey for all the fans who are watching.”
Based on what has been shown in trailers for the new season, Curtis is going to join Team Arrow full time, and not just as Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) IT help. We’re talking full-blown, in-the-field vigilante.
“It’s him not wanting to be the victim that really inspires him,” Kellum explained of Curtis becoming a Team Arrow member. “Going through all the things he went through last year got his brain moving on what he wants to be doing with the rest of his life. Anyone would be rethinking life having gone through nuclear annihilation. So that accompanied with not wanting to feel helpless out on those streets of Star City is what pumps him up to want to get into the field and protect others and make sure he can protect his friends, family, and himself.”
But just because Curtis decides he wants to be an expert fighter doesn’t mean his transformation will happen overnight. Far from it, actually.
“There are going to be some challenges, for sure,” Kellum said with a laugh. “Like Oliver [Stephen Amell] says, he’s the person who has probably been out in the field the least, who has the least amount of training. You’re going to see that come through. He’s going to have some growing pains, but the thing about Curtis and his alter ego is that you will see his determination. He’s determined to get there, he’s determined to be that badass hero that saves lives and helps humanity and the city.”
He continued, “It’s played smart, though. I like the fact that it’s not he just puts on a suit and all of a sudden he’s kicking everyone’s ass. That’s not who he was, and he’s definitely going to have to build to get there. And he will.”
Because Curtis is getting more physical with Team Arrow, that means Kellum also had to up his training on set so he could be ready for the physical stunts and fight choreography.
“It’s very cool. I’m doing Muay Thai and boxing and training and pushing my body and becoming more skilled at fighting,” Kellum said. “This is the stuff you dream about as a kid, being an actor in comic book stuff, so for me to have this happening now and to be a part of a TV show that feels so much like a movie, it’s such a phenomenal experience. I’m pinching myself.”
While Curtis is going to be gung-ho about his new training, his husband isn’t exactly going to have the same reaction.
“Curtis’ husband is definitely going to have some trepidation about what’s going on,” Kellum explained. “It’s going to cause some ups and downs between them, in terms of your husband being out late nights and wondering what’s going on. But I think they’re strong enough that they can fight through that and have each other’s backs.”
Something that Arrow has done so beautifully ever since Curtis was first introduced on the show is how the character has always been very open about his sexuality but it never was the most important aspect about him, and that brings a level of inclusivity to the series like never before.
“I think it’s hugely important because rarely in life do any one of us live through our sexuality,” Kellum said. “We live as people, and then we are who we are. I like to say I’m a person first, and not a black person first. I’m a human who also identifies as black. It’s not the most important quality about me, but it is important. It’s important to treat everyone as they want to be treated.”
Kellum credits his former co-star Sean Hayes with helping him truly understand that.
“It really gelled with me when we were on his show called Sean Hayes Saves the World,” Kellum said. “He would always says, ‘My character’s sexuality is the fifth most important thing about him.’ There are so many levels to each character. And being a person who was partially raised by someone in the LGBT community, it definitely makes me proud that they’re proud of me and my work. And I have friends in the LGBT community who are proud that I’m portraying a character like this. I’m so happy I can help bring inclusivity to TV and that I can be a part of that movement.”
Season five of Arrow also signals a huge milestone for Kellum, as he was promoted from recurring to series regular.
“That doesn’t happen all the time, especially on shows that are really great and having amazing followings,” Kellum said. “So I was so thankful when I got the call that they wanted to update me to series regular.”
But Kellum reveals that his promotion has not really affected his time on set so far.
“On set, I’m there more so that’s cool,” he explained with a chuckle. “But we make recurring characters, bit players, series regulars, everyone feels the same and equal and like they’re very much an important part of the show, because they very much all are. So it doesn’t feel any different to me on set, outside of the fact that I get to bring that same welcoming, warm energy that was brought to me to the newer people who are coming on set. And getting to go to Comic-Con and feeling more like a part of the family and the network, that definitely is surreal.”
Are you excited to see Curtis become Mister Terrific on Arrow? Tweet me your thoughts at @SydneyBucksbaum!
Images: The CW