Explained: Why Justin Hartley Was Not Cast in ‘Arrow’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated August 1st, 2012 at 9:49 am,

Stephen Amell Arrow The CW Explained: Why Justin Hartley Was Not Cast in Arrow

When it was announced that The CW would be pursuing a new television series centered on DC comics’ emerald archer, Green Arrow, fans likely assumed it would be a spin-off allowing Justin Hartley to continue the role he played for many years on Smallville. However, those fans learned soon enough that this version, now known simply as Arrow, would not pick up where the adventures of a young Clark Kent left off, but seek to create its own universe with a new actor playing the familiar character.

Executive producer Marc Guggenheim (Green Lantern, FlashForward) makes it clear that he’s a fan of Hartley’s rendition of Oliver Queen, but walking in the footsteps of Smallville was never in the cards for Arrow. Scroll down for details.

“We certainly wanted to chart our own course and destiny,” Guggenheim said while discussing the show at The CW’s TCA press tour. He also reiterated the commonly used justification that multiple actors can take on the same role, without damaging the core essence of the character: “Michael Keaton [as Batman] doesn’t affect your love for Christian Bale and Christian Bale doesn’t affect your love for Adam West … multiple iterations are possible.”

For those who have checked out the trailers for the series, it’s clear from the start that Arrow is starting fresh in a world absent those fanciful aspects on display in Smallville. To set the series on the right foot, Guggenheim and the show’s other producers sought an actor to embody this more ambiguous version of Oliver Queen. One of the defining characteristics of Stephen Amell’s version lies in the way the character handles his foes – which varies between a Batman-like style of physical intimidation, and the more permanent approach of ventilating bad guys with arrows.

Guggenheim stated:

“We’re exploring the nature of vigilantism … and we’ll get into those [moral] issues. The Arrow always gives the bad guy the opportunity to do the right thing … when he kills, he kills for necessity … it’s not just random violence … we’ll face the issues of his morality head on…that’s part of the fun, quite frankly, when telling a story about a vigilante.”

While this translates well within the context of the new series, longtime fans of the character may not take too kindly to the thought of Oliver Queen putting his adversaries in the ground. Some may recall a similar distaste for such acts following Green Arrow’s execution of the villain Prometheus in the pages of DC comics’ miniseries, Cry For Justice. As Guggenheim points out, this is merely another iteration of the character – one that will have its various attractive or unattractive qualities for those in the audience – not unlike Tim Burton’s Batman, who had no qualms with killing any number of thugs foolish enough to challenge him on the streets of Gotham.

Helping to explain this change in character will be the flashbacks to the island Queen was stranded on, which will be interspersed throughout Arrow’s current war on crime. As the present day story unfolds, the audience will slowly be told the account of how the rich, entitled, Oliver Queen came to be the vigilante known as Arrow.

Justin Hartley Green Arrow Smallville Explained: Why Justin Hartley Was Not Cast in Arrow

Co-executive producer Andrew Kreisberg explains:

“The last episode of the series will be [Arrow] seeing the [rescue] boat in the pilot. Every week is telling the origin story.”

So there you have it. Not only is Arrow a distinctly different character than the one embodied by Justin Hartley, he is also a distinctive interpretation of the character from the comics. With only a short while until October, fans won’t have to wait long to check it out for themselves. And if enough people stick with the show, the producers would like to have Hartley on to make a cameo at some point.

Kreisberg said:

“More than anything, Justin has been so amazing and so supportive of this. Neither of us really knew him before we worked on this pilot. We actually met him during pilot season, and he’s just been so cool, saying ‘I’m happy for you guys,’ so great… and he and Stephen have actually developed a nice friendship. So, we hope, in the same way that in the Superman movies, you’d see actors from previous incarnations joined in some way… if there’s an opportunity down the road for Justin to play with us, that would be great.”


Arrow premieres Wednesday, October 10 @8pm on The CW.

Source: EW, KsiteTV

TAGS: Arrow
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  1. I am hopeful in this new take on the character and have him grow over the series into the character we know from the comics. I liked Hartley in the role and I wouldn’t mind a cameo or some sort of role in the future of the series.

    • I would rather see this arrow die and have hartley take over. even hartley cast as speedy would be a kick to the groin.

      • Totally agree!

  2. SO then this series is set before he appeared in smallville?

    • No the thing isnt in the same universe at all, its in its own universe nothing to do with smallville

  3. The more I read about Arrow the more I want to see. I hope it goes over well so WB/DC will do more with their characters on tv and movies.

    • I wish Warner would get their head out of their A$$ and start listening to the fans.

  4. So two different dimensions : Arrow bumps into Green Arrow

    • Titled…..Crisis of Infinite Arrows.

      Unfortunately DC has done this many time with others characters. The most recent was on Batmans: The Brave and the Bold.

  5. wow, um no, he is referring to Smallville and how they had Christopher Reeves and Dean Cain on the show both previous Supermen as different characters

  6. i really want a nightwing show .. place the show in bludhaven so you dont have to use batman mythos .. but please nightwing deserves his own show and it would be boss .

    • I liked that idea. Maybe nightwing can appear in this show later on lol.

      • Don’t count on it. Besides a random teaser for diehard fans, (deathstroke’s mask) this Arrow has very little DC universe in it. In that way, it is very indicative of Smallville in the early days. They rewrite characters and revamp them into their matrix instead of applying them from the comics or even Smallville. Longtime fans will recognize the names of famous GA writers or artists in bit roles (Diggle, Grell, etc) but whether the show’s version of Dakkon, Meryln, Dinah Lance (real name of Black Canary) turn into anything like their comic book versions is anyone’s guess.

    • I would love to see a Nightwing series. Batman’s presence could be felt without actually seeing him.

  7. Still would have loved to see justin hartley back as green arrow but o well

    • Leaves him open to play The Flash, though….

  8. I wonder how far they went down the road to make Hartley’s established character work or why was it necessary that someone else play the character despite a differing background story? Sure some might find it hard to get over that the studio wanted to restart the character arc making it unique and independent of the ‘Smallville’ series, but is that enough justification for jettisoning Hartley and the way he portrayed him or what he brought to the character? Treating real people like drawings isn’t exactly the message I’d want to portray to the people who make the show possible in the first place. Perhaps I’m mistaken though that what the audience cares about matters as long as the network can get the opportunity to sell you something else in place of it, what you care about now then is disposable as well…

  9. Well Smallville was a terrible jumbled mess of a show and their GReen Arrow was more a pseudo Batman/Superman since they couldn’t have either of those on the show.

    • This is very true. Smallville’s Green Arrow was more Batman than GA. Wealthy alter-ego, gadget-heavy, they even eliminated the bow after season 7′s opener. GA depended on that demned hand crossbow, dart-shooter thing. At least this Arrow understands the importance of primarily using the bow as it is the central element of the character. Batman dresses like a Bat, Superman has superpowers, Flash is really fast, Aquaman swims, Green Lantern has a green glowing ring, AND Green Arrow uses a bow. I used to be more of a traditionalist and agreed with Grell when he had Ollie drop the trick arrows and used a longbow. But time has mellowed me and I don’t mind the compound bow as long as they continue to use it. And I love the gimmick arrows. So that is a major reason for breaking from being a Smallville spin-off. Hartley was good, he had Ollie’s charm and intensity, but they wrote him into a corner on Smallville. So while I am not in love w/ Amell’s Arrow character, I am glad they didn’t spin-off Smallville.

  10. This is a good reason why people seem to like Marvel more than DC. In every movie/tv rendition of the characters (besides Smallville/Cartoons) there is never a connection between the characters. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t get innovators like Tim Gunn, Paul Dini, Alfred Gough, and Miles Millar to create a better story. And, it’s sad that 10 years of story in this tv universe is thrown by the wayside to try to cash in on a ‘dark’ story because of Nolan’s films.

    • Sorry,you’re wrong.DC managed to create an unified universe with the ANIMATED one.After Batman,The Animated Series,the animated versions of Superman and Justice League,even Static Shock,were included in the same universe.Although they ruined everything later doing other series,that were too childish(Teen Titans),contradictory with the previous ones(Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes) or had nothing to do with the comics (The Batman).Marvel never did that.Even with the 90′s shows,that were artistically similar,every show went on its own and they didn’t seem connected.Even now,Ultimate Spider-Man and Avenger Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are separated shows with no connection.I believe that’s the reason the latter was cancelled.It’s true that in the movies,they made that connection,but it was a little forced and some of them didn’t work (Hulk).And they couldn’t include in this universe their most famous and most important character,Spider-Man,because Sony still has the rights.Maybe,now that Nolan’s trilogy is over,DC will be able to make a Batman version who co-exists with Superman and prepare the Justice League movie.At least,I hope so.

      • Hence why I made the caveat of Smallville/Cartoons. And, like I said, that’s because they had Paul Dini and Tim Gunn involved, which is why I said they should include them. And, as for Marvel, I was referring to the multi-billion dollar franchise they currently have.

        • Sorry,I didn’t understand your statement at first.After reading it again,I wanted to edit my answer,but I didn’t know how.

      • It’s worth noting that:

        a) There will be a new Avengers cartoon coming out soon that *will* (I believe) be in the same continuity as Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s also going to feature (mostly) the Avengers team from the movie, so there is more of a familiarity between the various Marvel-controlled versions of the characters.

        b) The 90s cartoons actually had a reasonable amount of overlap. Spider-Man teamed up with X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Captain America and others – characters ported across from the other active cartoons at the time – and there was also an entire arc that featured Spider-Man and his super-friends. I think that “every show went on its own and they didn’t seem connected” is a little unfair, with that in mind.

        • I remember to see Hulk in The Fantastic Four and X-Men in Spider-Man,but not sure if it was the same continuity.In DC animated universe it was clear that it was the same,as,for example the new Robin from the last season of Batman appeared in Superman.

    • Nolans first 2 Batman movies were amazing. his last one, crapola. why follow in the foot steps of crap?

  11. I think Justin did a great job and makes a fine resume to jump into a MARVEL Universe as a leading character. (Anyone want to guess…?) If he did stay with the DC Universe at some point, I think he would make a great Flash.

    Your thoughts?

    All the best to you guys! ~ Stark

    • Was thinking the same thing and posted it above in a comment before I read yours.


  13. Sound very interesting hope this is good I’m looking toward to it.

  14. Meh, not really feeling this and will not catch the pilot episode either. Honestly even if the show turns out to be decent i doubt it will ever gather the following needed to warrant a renewal for multiple seasons.

    I think that Justin Hartley was great as Green Arrow and if they would have continued the Smallville universe with him for another couple of seasons in a Green Arrow spinoff that might have been have as we would have had teh chance to get to see some stars reoccur on the show from Smallville.

    This “Arrow” show to me just doesnt do it. I really invested too much time into Smallville and the development of characters like Green Arrow to just simply turn away and look at a different take on the character.

    If anything, this is just too soon (after Smallville)

    • I agree smallville spin-offs would have been more preferable. a JLA spin-off would have made perfect sense.

    • I understand. Smallville had a way of doing that to you. I, too, became emotionally invested in the characters. But the fact that this isn’t Smallville will eventually bring you back in. MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: Especially if they are doing what I think they are doing with a GA/Dinah Lance/Merlyn love triangle. Nobody hates you like a former friend. Unless it is a former friend who loves the same woman you do and loses out to you. Just my take. Based off the name, the affair while Ollie was “dead”, and Tommy maybe having an idea that his friend is more than a party boy. If this plays out like I think, He will attempt to outdo Arrow as an archer vigilante and failing at that, will become an assassin. All because he couldn’t compete with Ollie for the woman they love.

  15. I think this is actually a smart decision. To me smallville was always a childish show. It was OK, but really be honest, it was for teeny boppers, and it developed a unique fan base.

    To expect a lessor known comic and smallville character to be able to carry an entire show is not smart.

    The right thing to do was to create a new vision and let it establish itself in its own right. This Arrow seems to follow more into the Christopher Nolan batman universe, than the smallville universe and I am interested in seeing how it plays out.

    • More or less my sentiments. I wouldn’t go quite as far as to call it childish – it handled some “grown up” issues, and I really liked the way they handled a lot of the broader DC elements as the series wore on – but it certainly aimed for the swoony teenager market.

      Hartley’s version of Green Arrow basically became the first legit superhero in the world. He revealed his identity, he had his face on cereal boxes, and he had an arsenal of quips and winning smiles alongside the arrows in his quiver. With the grittier, more anti-hero approach that they seem to be taking, I think they were right to go with someone who looked a bit more rugged, and a bit less “pretty”.

      It’s interesting that they seem to be turning Ollie into a DC version of The Punisher, essentially. His motivations are different, but his methods are heading in that direction. I like that they’ve effectively distilled the character down to it’s core: a modern day Robin Hood; an outlaw who fights corrupt bureaucrats. It feels less like an adaptation of the comic, and more like a re-interpretation of the original concept.

    • Then I guess we can see him blow himself up and leave speedy to train himself while he inherits ollies house.

    • I watched the show from my late 20′s to my late 30′s. So if its for teenie boppers…I must be the oldest one in existence.

      • No, what they are talking about is the style of the show. It was Dawson’s Creek with superpowers. They had all of us tied in knots over whether he was ever going to get with Lois or if he was still clinging to the past with Lana. It was designed to appeal to teenagers and their angst, but it also appealed to older people as well. That is what happens when it is a well done show. Ten years they had us tuning in. The show spawned a ‘shipper war like Twilight. That takes some kind of writing. So don’t be offended. I am in my 30s and loved the show. (or obsessed over it to be more accurate) But it was designed to get teenagers.

  16. I think it gives the writers more freedom by going in a new direction and having no ties to anything thats gone on before.

    Smallville is still one of the greatest, if not greatest television shows of the noughties and nothing can really deny that fact.

  17. I will watch this for sure, at least to see if it is good or not, which surprises me actually, as i never liked Green Arrow very much in the comics. But without the liberal junk and the billy-goat beard, it might be OK (clips looked good).

  18. I wonder whatever happened to the aquaman thing(i know it was scrapt) That had some major potential. That said this looks like it will be sick tv show I don’t know what i am more excited for this or booster gold.

    • The Aquaman Pilot with Justin Hartley was actually decent. They almost cast him as Aquaman in Smallville because of it. again denied! but ultimately He made an awesome Green Arrow and the guy they got to play Arthur Curry looked like Aquaman from the old comic books.

  19. That’s the cover story. The truth is, although he did bend over and take it from the producer, he would not eat the pie whole.

  20. I would rather see Justin Hartley Continue the Role. I was hopeful that he would, until these promos came out. Now I am deeply disappointed.

  21. although i’m not a hartley fan i would rather see some kind of continuation changing the actors all the time sucks just as bale in batman

  22. I hate when they change the character in a movie!! I thought they were going to keep the same person that would have been awesome. They could have done three same thing go back to the beginning like star wars!!

  23. That would be awesome if they said let’s change him next season but right now I’m not interested not going to watch it!!!!!!!! Sorry im watching Emily Owans MD !!!!!!

    • Then you are missing out. Arrow has some tight action and unexpected humor. Ollie’s family plays a major factor in the show. His sister may become a Mia Darrow/Roy Harper “Speedy” sidekick in the future. I have seen all three episodes and so far it is pretty good. There are some things I would change,like wearing an actual mask instead of facepaint and a hood, but it has potential.

  24. Arrow is a horrible show. The actor can’t act, the storyline is horribly written. Stay far away from this show. sucks

    • Quite honestly, the show is amazing. Everything I have thought that the Green Arrow character could be has come to life.
      Although I love the traditional comic-book superhero’s, the ones that never seen to get beaten down and you know they will always take on the bad-guy and never loose any sleep over it.
      But, the new Arrow show has re-evaluated the Green Arrow character and made it more realistic, more gritty, and that is probably why it will survive well.
      The Batman series has done well, and it seems in order for super-heroes to continue, they have to make the shows and movies more realistic. The crowd is different than the old one.
      I have seen every episode of it that has come out recently, and I really like it. It has more of an in-depth character to it that has issues with right/wrong, but he still has a driving force for justice. And, he actually has to take baddies out, after all, many criminals of today have shown us just how really desperate they can be.

  25. I liked Hartley, he just kinda fit the role better? It would have been fun watching him do this new series. Its a shame.

  26. Omg I really hope Justin gets a role in the tv series ‘Arrow’. Huge fan of you Justin. I would actually start watching it if you had a role in it :)

  27. i cant stand to watch arrow without justin hartly its like an illusion without him.

  28. Justin Hartley for Arrows would be good as his original………….I like Oliver Queen role played by Stephen Amell but Green Arrow played bY jUSTIN hARTlEY. I hope he gets his chance to play Green Arrow if Stephen doesn’t want the role.