Interview: 'Arrow' star Katie Cassidy ready to get physical

Katie Cassidy

Actress Katie Cassidy attends 102.7 KIIS FM's Wango Tango at the Home Depot Center May 11, 2013 in Carson, Calif. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Katie Cassidy is the first to admit she isn’t a comic book aficionado. The model-turned-actress refuses to lie about it just to please the die-hard fans who watch her play legal aid attorney Laurel Lance on The CW’s comic book adaptation “Arrow.” Truth be told, her love of video games as a kid is about as “nerdy” as she gets.

But Cassidy doesn’t need to be a comic book expert to get excited about her “Arrow” character’s inevitable transformation into the crime-fighting judo expert Black Canary. She just needs to enjoy getting her hands dirty — and possibly fishnet stockings.

“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to,” Cassidy said over the phone last week while on a beach in Malibu, Calif. “I’ve definitely started preparing myself, as I know my character will turn into Black Canary at some point, but I don’t know when, exactly. Physically I’m trying to get in the best shape possible. I’m looking forward to the fight training.”

Cassidy — who filmed the 2010 remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in the Chicago area — will appear Saturday at Self magazine’s Workout in the Park at Grant Park, along with Celeb TV host Kelli Zink. Cassidy said she has been exercising regularly for six years, including taking up kickboxing to prepare for her multi-episode arc as a demon killer on The CW’s “Supernatural.” The daughter of former “Partridge Family” teen idol David Cassidy said she tries to do as many of her own stunts as she can.

“It’s so much fun,” Cassidy said. “It makes it more realistic. But insurance-wise, there are limits on what we can do.”

“Arrow” revolves around the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow, a billionaire playboy who fights crime and corruption using a bow and arrow (or, as many have described him, Batman-meets-Robin Hood). There’s no word on how Black Canary will be introduced, but executive producer Andrew Kreisberg did say at the TV-centric PaleyFest in March the transition needs to be earned and not just be the result of having a bad day.

Predicting the success of the series, which returns for Season 2 in October, would have been difficult early on considering DC Comics has had mixed results with live-action TV shows in the last 25 years. The Superman-inspired “Smallville” lasted 10 seasons on The WB (which became The CW during the show’s run), but ABC’s “The Flash” and The WB’s Batgirl-inspired “Birds of Prey” didn’t make it to Season 2. The “Wonder Woman” pilot for NBC was never picked up.

It probably didn’t help that “Arrow” was asking notoriously fickle comic book fans to tune in to a network known for female-targeted programming such as “The Vampire Diaries,” “America’s Next Top Model” and the “90210” remake.

“They can be intimidating,” Cassidy said of comic book fans. “They’re die-hard fans that know all about the (Green Arrow) world. I’m willing to learn as much as I can. Luckily, Andrew is a die-hard comic book fan, so we have an expert making sure we stick to the right story. Plus, we insert Easter eggs in places where comic book fans can appreciate them. I’m so happy the show has been well received.”

Before “Arrow,” Cassidy’s TV work involved roles on TV shows that lasted only one season, such as CBS’ “Harper’s Island” and The CW’s “Melrose Place” remake; guest appearances on “Supernatural” and “Gossip Girl,” also on The CW; and an ABC pilot, “Georgetown,” that was never picked up. “Arrow” has provided her with a steady TV gig, not to mention a chance to play a superhero — whenever that may be.

“I’m very grateful to be there,” Cassidy said. “It makes me excited to go to work every day.”

lgomez@tribune.com

Self magazine’s Workout in the Park
When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Butler Field in Grant Park, Monroe Street and Lake Shore Drive
Tickets: $20 at selfworkoutinthepark.com

CHICAGO

More