One of the best things about a show being on the air for years and years is that eventually cast members who have directorial aspirations often get to take a swing behind the camera for an episode. This year, Arrow bestowed that honor on David Ramsey.
Actors breaking into directing is nothing new, but when you've got seven years of stellar stunts and mind-boggling action sequences to live up to, it's still a pretty daunting mountain to climb. Or so Ramsey told TV Guide when we talked to him about his directorial debut.
How did you and the rest of the cast and writers adjust to you shifting into the director's chair?
David Ramsey: Arrow, it's a huge action show at its core. Right? But, it's all about story. Every episode is about story, it doesn't matter what show it is and that's the reason why shows are successful. It really is about story and characters. ... [Showrunner] Beth Schwartz really allowed me to work really hard with the beats on this script and just to get some of the storytelling where we all thought it should be. They were really fantastic. They were really great and they really allowed me to tell the story. I can't speak well-enough on how everything just kind of fell in line from every department to the actors. A lot of times you worry about actors really respecting you as a coworker... and there was none of that. It was just really a very easy experience in that regard.
Given that you had to spend so much time behind the camera in this episode, will we be seeing less of Diggle this week?
Ramsey: Well, that's a strange thing, right? Because my first day directing — now when I say the first day, I mean the very first scene of my first day — was me as an actor, me as Diggle. This was the strangest multiple personality challenge I can possibly imagine, kind of acting to thinking about what the shot should be and what I want and was my performance correct. ... And obviously I had to trust my first AD at the time, Mark Bunting, to call out some of those things. That was the strangest moment I had on set, when I was kind of directing myself. But, in answer to your question, will you be getting less Diggle in this episode? No, you'll be seeing just as much Diggle as you ever have in this episode. They didn't give me a break. They didn't write less of me in this episode because I was directing, which is what I asked Beth [Schwartz]. I said, "Beth, listen. Don't give me a break. Just write this as if it's any other director." And she said, "Okay" and she did just that.
Did you get to shadow any other directors to sort of prepare and learn the ropes a little bit?
Ramsey: Yeah, Gordon [Verheul], our resident director of photography, I shadowed him. James Bamford, and Glenn Wood just over the years. ... Glenn's been gone from the show for awhile, but I was always a fan of his, and I can't say just how much I've learned from James. James, he really has caught the pulse of the show and his directing style was something I have somewhat adopted, though I have tweaks of my own. ... And you know, I'm there every day with him. I'm talking to him, getting everything I can from him.
Are there any scenes you're particularly proud of or excited for the fans to see?
Ramsey: I think every scene between Katie [Cassidy] and Emily [Bett Rickards]. So, Laurel and Felicity's relationship is just, I think it's one of the highlights of this season. Also, Arrow's kind of blessed, if you will. I don't know what the right term would be. It has a tendency of bringing out these unexpected performances or relationships. They just work. No one expected the relationship between Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Diggle to jump off the page and it did. To jump off the screen and it did. No one expected Oliver and Felicity to jump off the screen and it did. The new team really working together and really popping, no one expected it and it did. Grant [Gustin] coming to Arrow and being so good he gets his own show. Caity Lotz, who died on Arrow just really being so wonderful that she goes into Legends of Tomorrow. These unexpected things that kind of began on Arrow that I don't think just happens. I think it's really a mark of really good character development and storytelling. ... I think that's where it starts. It starts with these really good characters, and I'm saying all this to say that this is just another unexpected thing. The relationship between Laurel and Felicity that really pops off the screen.
Any action sequences that you were kind of impressed you pulled off?
Ramsey: The Ghost Initiative. I think it really worked in this episode. I think the Ghost Initiative, aka Suicide Squad, really has a huge action sequence there that really works in this episode. I'm very proud of the episode, because both the character development, the acting, and I think the action really work. Both of those things are equal characters on our show. They're characters, the actors and the action. Both of those are equally significant characters on our show, and I think both of those work in this episode.
As far as the flash-forwards this season, we haven't really seen Diggle in the future yet, which makes me very nervous. Can you ease any of our fears about what Diggle's up to 20 years later?
Ramsey: Diggle is alive and well 20 years into the future, okay? And he's quite well in fact. I can't tell you what he's doing, because it is a huge thing. I can't tell you that exactly, but I can tell you that he's alive and that he's well, but, I think they're saving some of that for a later date. In fact, I know they are.
Arrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.
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