Actress Elysia Rotaru is an accomplished actress of both television and film. In addition to her credits in series such as Eureka, Fringe, Motive and Psych, Rotaru has appeared in CW show like Hellcats, iZombie, Smallville and Supernatural. She also co-produced and starred in, The Wall, a film that premiered at The Whistler Film Festival.
Currently, Rotaru stars as Taiana, Oliver Queen’s mysterious love interest on CW’s Arrow. I recently spoke with Elysia about Arrow, her acting career, voiceover work and directorial aspirations. Read what she had to say below:
When did you first realize that you wanted to become an actress?
“I think that I really had the conscious awareness of it when I was at University like in my later teens, like around 19 or 20 for sure. But even then, it didn’t really hit me that I wanted to do this as a living. I just loved doing it. I didn’t really think that I could actually do this as a living. Does that make sense? (Laughs). I knew that people were superstars and movie stars. I knew that people were on red carpets, but I didn’t realize that it was available to me. I didn’t realize it could happen.”
You started out as a psychology major. I imagine that aspect of your education helped with your acting.
“I was going to University hoping to get into psychological studies and then I switched my focus to theater late. I wasn’t even sure I could at that point, but I managed. So the three years I was engrossed in criminology and psych studies was really useful. I’m glad I still have those textbooks! I can use them when I’m doing my work and prepping here and there (laughs).”
What was your audition process like for Arrow?
“It was really interesting because I made a choice before going in….I got the audition a couple of days before. I really liked the character. I got dressed up like the character and I honored where she was before in her life. I just decided to do something a little different and go in with no makeup and no hair done. I wanted to show the work rather than show my makeup skills (laughs).
It’s just this weird head game you play sometimes as an actor when you’re auditioning for networks when you know the network. So when I went in for this role, I decided to showcase the work, my craft rather than the aesthetics. That was the first weird thing because I made that choice and I committed to it. I didn’t really know how things would land. I had been on CW shows before and being on the circuit, they know me by now so I’m just putting it out there. I just had a lot of fun in the room.
I walked in the office and it was actually the office that helped to springboard my career so that was lovely. They helped me explore different avenues and then they redirected me to what they wanted and that was it. I just had a really great time with it. I think I made a good choice because I really didn’t wear makeup for that role (laughs).”
How would describe your Arrow character?
“She’s a strong, spunky woman. There are a lot of things still to be revealed about her. I think that there are a lot of parallels there with myself that I can see now that I’m progressing with the role that the writers are revealing here and there. So it’s neat because I can see a lot of me in her. If I had to sum her up in a couple of words, I think that she’s strong, smart and she’s got a goal. She’s got a good heart.”
What are some of the personality traits you share with your Arrow character?
“The thing that I’m noticing as I’m developing her more and more from the writers and directors is her strength, not just her strength as a woman but as a human being. It’s something that I’m dealing with daily. I’m having this come up in my personal life where there’s a balance point between being a rock and still being vulnerable. So I think that’s the biggest thing that I’m noticing between my career and myself.”
What do you enjoy most about working with Stephen Amell?
“I say this over and over, and it’s the truth, he’s just so playful but also professional. He works so hard. He has a family outside of the set and he’s focused on that just as much as he’s focused on his career. I think that is important. When he comes to work on the day, he’s on it. He knows what he has to be doing and he’s still trying to find moments of play when he’s kinda of silly after 12, 14-hour days, he kinda needs it. Plus, he’s Canadian, which he is awesome. I love that. I’m like good for you (laughs).”
Can you share with us any memorable moments from the Arrow set?
“There are so many things, the set is so much fun, but it would probably have to be working on my birthday. There was no better thing than that. I was shooting on my birthday, on November 9th and I loved it. Everyone who knew or who just found out was just so lovely. It was just really nice to have people on set come up and say ‘Hey, I heard it was your birthday.’ Because that just makes you feel good and gooey inside when you’re ready to get back to work.
I just love working. It’s not like I’m laboring away. I love what I do. Yes, it’s hard, but I put it in a different mindset so being on set, on location on my birthday, it was just really lovely and then being silly with people and having fun with the props department made me feel like a 5 year old (laughs). What I enjoy about working is meeting new people and learning about their projects. That’s not a huge behind the scenes story, but that’s what I’m always attracted to, just understanding the other people I’m working with.”
Are there any other actor on Arrow that you would like to work with?
“Gosh, I see all of them intermittently. They’ll be going to a different location and I’ll see them in the lot as they’re moving and just seeing certain people who I would love to play alongside of. Just having that character in that world would be exciting. I wouldn’t particularly isolate anyone like who I would want to work with, but it would nice to see like the freshness.
I’m just saying the world freshness since my character is in the past. That’s the first word that came to my mind. I don’t really have…it would be fun to play alongside Emily, like go hardcore Vancouver patriotism (laughs). That would be my first person I could think of.”
Are there any other current projects you can share with us?
“I’m constantly exploring different aspects of my career. The one I’ve started engaging in this past year (2015) is producing. I started earlier this year is with our film The Wall. We just had the premiere at The Whistler Film Festival so I co produced that and I started in it as well.
I also have another short film in postproduction. I’m behind the camera on this one which is my first time doing anything like that and that’s in the works. Hopefully that will be ready more towards a spring release. It’s always been interesting and fascinating to me to understand the machinery of the craft.
With that, I’ve also really started engaging more and more into the voiceover world with my voiceover agent here to, as you say; spread my voice around the city and all over the city. I’m passionately obsessed about voiceover. I also know one day I want to direct. I don’t know when it will happen. Hopefully within the next five years. The directing bug is crawling up my leg (laughs).
I feel there are so many avenues that you can do in this big machinery of the industry and I just don’t know where it will take me. I teach acting. I do it. I’m a voiceover artist. It would be fun for me next to lay down a children’s cover album. There’s so much. You just pace yourself. I’m trying to figure that out. It was something I was meditating on. How can I be more creative? Creative in a way that’s productive, if that makes sense.”