Exclusive Interview with Arrow’s Michael Jonsson and Miranda Edwards

The biggest surprise of the fall television season has been The CW’s Arrow being the most popular show of the Arrowverse. A prison storyline for Oliver (Stephen Amell) and the mystery surrounding Felicity’s future have gotten people hooked back on the show, with some calling it the best season so far since Season 1.

Another reason for its popularity has to do with the ‘big bad’ of the season, the Longbow Hunters. I had the opportunity to sit down with two of the Longbow Hunters, Miranda Edwards (Silencer) and Michael Jonsson (Kodiak), to get their thoughts on their respective characters as well as some tidbits about what to expect the rest of the season.

image by Ellyse Anderson

What got you interested in acting?

ME: I was always a dramatic kid. Making up stories, trying to convince people I was dead instead of sleeping, watching myself cry in the mirror. But I became consciously aware of acting as more of a path in high school. I took a drama class and I watched my teacher perform a monologue from the play Lion In The Streets. She transformed into a completely different person before my eyes. Magic. I was hooked.

MJ: Everyone usually wants to be one or two main things when they grow up. I wanted to be everything – astronaut, cop, robber, scientist, doctor, business person, stunt guy, lawyer – you name it. When you’re an actor, you get to be everything. Even when not acting, I usually like doing jobs that constantly change and teach me new things. That’s the epitome of acting. Always transforming, always challenging who you are.

image by Erich Saide

What was your audition process like for Arrow? What first caught your attention about the roles?

ME: I got the sides for a character who was confident, thought a lot of herself, had a dry sense of humour and was crazy skilled in weaponry. I loved all of that. Before I went in I had my music going, then I went in and did the scene a couple of times. I felt good about it but not amazing. That night I found out they were seriously considering me and I got the official call the next day. It wasn’t until I went in for my first fitting that I discovered who the character was. Surprise! Overall, a great experience.

MJ: For the audition, the breakdown was vague. Kodiak was called something different altogether. Until I got the script, I didn’t even know I was a Longbow Hunter or Kodiak and that was three days before filming. Then, BOOM. “By the way, you are a Longbow Hunter and we’re giving you an intro at San Diego Comic-Con.”  At that point, I just said “Cool,” then went back to my car and screamed like a little giddy fanboy.

Going back to the audition, when you get vague breakdowns like that, you have to go in prepared to change whatever you prepped. You do your best with what you got and hope they like the choices you made. For this one, it was in the middle of our traditional Daddy-Son-Date-Day for the last day of school and I was happy our activities brought us past the audition. My son and daughter always bring me luck for auditions.

Going off of auditions, what is the one thing that matters the most to you when auditioning for a role? For example, does what the show is matter as much as say the creative team behind it?

ME: It’s the character that gets me. If it’s unlike anything I’ve done before character-wise, if it excites me or scares me, then I’m drawn in because it’s unexplored territory or something that’s unfamiliar to me. It’s wonderful when I see a team attached to it whose work I enjoy or people who I’ve worked with before. If it’s a show that I know is really good, that I’m a fan of, that’s a bonus.

MJ: Intention and objectives are always number one in any audition. You have to know what your character wants. Of course, you study the show and the tone which means also looking at the creative team. Every little bit helps mold your decisions which contribute to the performance.

As someone who has been a fan of Arrow for six seasons, what can you tell fans like myself about the Longbow Hunters? How big of a threat will they, and Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo), be to Star City?

ME: You’d think that the extent of Ricardo’s threat to Star city has been established but then he goes and rounds up Red Dart (Holly Elissa), Kodiak, and Silencer. These three have the precision, strength, and stealth to take down any obstacles in their path. I’d say Star City is in for some trouble with them in the picture.

MJ: We’re badass and they keep writing us as more badass. Red Dart is so tough and nails those IDGAF looks, and Silencer has been getting a ton of love ’cause she is so cool and her tech is off the hook. How could you not want more of them?! For Kodiak, I just like to chuck people. I lift them and throw them. You could say that the shield is my thing, but really, I am more of a person-chucker.

Were you guys familiar with the comics, and specifically these characters, before you joined the show? If not, did you guys go back and read any of the ones featuring your characters as research?

ME: I was not aware before I joined the show. When I found out there was a Silencer comic I was so thrilled. I immediately started reading it. I’m a fan now.

MJ: I didn’t know too much about Kodiak and there wasn’t a ton of canon about him. I did pick up all comics that mentioned him and found out a lot about him that way.

Kodiak, in the comics, is the leader of the Shield Clan and is part of the Outsiders War. He IS huge, is a meta with super strength and carries a badass shield. He is also sarcastic and pokes fun of Oliver. I hope we see a lot more of that. The big difference in the comics – he’s shirtless and wears an antler skull headpiece. It’d be cool to see an arc transforming him into that on the show.

Both of your characters share pretty much all of their scenes together. What was it like working together and developing that chemistry? Did you guys have to do any kind of chemistry read prior to getting the roles?

ME: It was so much fun! We got along immediately and were making each other laugh. That’s always a good sign. There wasn’t any chemistry read. Individual casting just worked out really well. We have a good time playing together. I think we make a good team.

MJ: We got along right away since the first day on set. The chemistry was instant. Miranda is hilarious and loves to laugh, which is exactly how I am, so that’s what happened for most of the day. Got hard to put on the mean face when you are giggling so much.

Arrow — “Level Two” — Pictured: Miranda Edwards as Silencer — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — All Rights Reserved.

How cool was it for you to see the Silencer’s effects come to life on screen? The no-sound thing is pretty neat!

ME: Yes, very cool! I was happy to see the finished fights. It’s compelling to see that kind of action without the sound. I love it! I hope the fans do too.

You both have had guest roles on another CW show, Supernatural. How different were the two experiences despite them being on the same network?

ME: On Supernatural, the character was very different. Benjamin just wanted to play video games then was forced into a fight to the death. Bummer. Everything moved very quickly on that show. Casting to rehearsing to shooting was all within about a week for the one episode. It was exhilarating. And the fight scene was all me and Alicia, no stunt performers. That was all very different from Arrow. The commonality though, a great time on both shows. (Benjamin in “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” 12×10) 

MJ: So different. I had to bicker in a 2,000-year-old language and wear a loincloth. I was fighting a lot and was still a bad guy, so I guess that was similar. What was the same across both shows was how cool everyone on the set was. Cast on both shows are so welcoming and laid back. Love that part of any show. (Yeager in “The End” 5×4 & Gog in “Good Intentions” 13×14)

Arrow — “Crossing Lines” — Pictured: Holly Elissa as Red Dart and Michael Jonsson as Kodiak — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — All Rights Reserved.

Let’s end with two fun questions. If you could play one of your previous roles for the rest of your career, which would it be and why?

ME: Oooh. Since I plan to be working into my 80’s and 90’s that’s an interesting question. I can picture a 90-year-old Roxie from Orphan Black. She was pretty creepy but she felt the need to eliminate weakness in people. That’s quite a tall order but I could see her committing her life to pursue that goal. I think she’d probably get more skilled and more sadistic with age. Or maybe she’d mellow out with kids and grandkids. Like a Dexter kind of vibe. That could work.

MJ: Kodiak is right up there at #2 but Barry The Burier on Van Helsing has been one of my favorite characters as he plays two completely different people in the vampire apocalypse. To get the courage to fight vampires, he puts a luchador mask on and becomes this savage wrestler-type smashing heads in. When the mask comes off, he becomes a simple and innocent guy who can’t stand the sight of blood. He says a lot of funny things and there are so many places you could go with Barry.

Since our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, what is something you nerd out about?

ME: Food. I don’t consider myself a foodie. I just really enjoy deliciousness. I love watching shows like Chef’s Table. Oh, and board games. I am very competitive. Not to the point where we are not having fun anymore, just to the point that I win and crush my opponents in the process. That’s still fun. 

MJ: What DON’T I nerd out about. I played League of Legends for years and never got anything done. I am scared to play Fortnite for that exact reason. I also have over 500 comics and a lot of them are collectors (Wolverine #1, Punisher #1, Batman Year 1…etc.). That and tech. I love tech. I’ve even made an app for actors to help them memorize lines. It’s called The Actor’s Lines and you can get it in Google Play and the App Store.

Arrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW. Be sure to follow Miranda on Instagram and Michael on Twitter and Instagram.  

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