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‘Arrow’ Star Echo Kellum Talks Team Arrow 2.0, Curtis’ Legacy, Working with Emily Bett Rickards and More

Nora Dominick ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Executive Stage Editor

Last season, Echo Kellum jumped into the world of Arrow as the lovable, hilarious Curtis Holt. In just one season, Kellum exceeded expectations and created a character beloved by fans across the board.

Known for small roles on You’re the Worst and Ben and Kate, Echo Kellum began as a guest star last season. From there, his comedic relief and grounded portrayal of Curtis Holt earned him a series regular role.

This season, Arrow looks to rebuild and Curtis is a major part of that. He will be jumping into a role on Team Arrow and ultimately transition into the superhero Mr. Terrific.

Ahead of Arrow’s season five premiere, Echo Kellum sat down with Emertainment Monthly to chat about Curtis’ journey so far, building a strong bond with Emily Bett Rickards and so much more.

Check out the full interview below.

Emertainment Monthly: Last season on Arrow  you were a guest star and now you’re a series regular! How does that feel?

Echo Kellum: You know, it’s truly a blessing anytime we get to work in any capacity in this industry. Especially to come on a show like Arrow that’s already established and is already doing great things. For them to want you to stay on and be a bigger part of it is truly, truly, truly a blessing. I feel so fortunate that the producers, the network and the studio saw something they really liked in how I portray Curtis and they wanted to see more. I’m really thankful for the fans. They were very vocal in what they wanted to see and everyone was on board. It’s truly a dream come true to get to be a more pivotal role in this show. 

Now that you’re a series regular, what do you hope to explore more with Curtis? Whether it be with a certain character or a certain storyline. 

I definitely want to explore his family life and what really got him to be the way that he is. How did him and Paul meet? I want to explore where their relationship can go in the future. How Curtis can overcome the ups and the downs you experience in the field and how you can over come it if you have a strong relationship and strong center. Just more of what Curtis has gone through with pain and with his journey of being a superhero. I’m really excited to see all of the aspects of Curtis’ character come through in this season.

Awesome. Last season, Curtis and Felicity really became close and I really loved that relationship. How was it working so closely with Emily Bett Rickards?

Yeah I mean working with Emily, in general, she’s like a unicorn. She has all these amazing qualities that you would think could not exist in one person and she has them in spades. She uses a lot of them in her character of Felicity. I have the most fun working with her. Emily is just so professional and sweet and talented and hilarious and silly and down to earth It was her who I really worked with for a time last year.

Emily showed me how great the show can be and how down to earth everyone is. I think Curtis and Felicity’s relationship is definitely fostering more. Their friendship is as strong as ever going into season five. They have their little quirks that they do together. They are the comic relief in a lot of situations they’re thrown in. Their back and forth and banter is just this camaraderie between them. It’s really fun to play. 

I really enjoyed how Curtis became the inspirational voice for Oliver [Stephen Amell] in the finale. Does that carry over into this season?

Yeah! You know, I definitely feel like Curtis’ positivity can be infectious sometimes. I think that’s going to come through on occasion. You know, Oliver’s still going to be brooding because that’s who he is. I think there are some instances that are going to bring out a little bit more of that light in him [Oliver] because of what Curtis brings to the table. I think you’ll get to see some of that play out this season.

Echo Kellum, Rick Gonzalez and Madison McLaughlin in the Arrow season 5 Comic Con Trailer. Photo Credit: The CW
Echo Kellum, Rick Gonzalez and Madison McLaughlin in the Arrow season 5 Comic Con Trailer. Photo Credit: The CW

Looking at season five, you are part of Team Arrow 2.0! How is that going?

It’s great! As far as Curtis’ transition, going through what he went through last year, I was actually thinking about what he wants his life to be. In what capacity does he want to help out the citizens of Star City. I think with the holes that are left with Diggle [David Ramsey] and Thea [Willa Holland] leaving really has Curtis thinking, ‘Well, maybe this is what I should go for now.’ You know, ‘Maybe, I should be of help to help Star City have cleaner streets.’

It’s really fun to play those aspects as an actor. I get to be involved in a lot more action this season. I’ve been doing a lot of training and boxing. It’s a ton of fun, ton of hard work, but it’s so rewarding and fulfilling to get to do all of this. I know that the character of Curtis is having a blast too. 

How is training to become Mr. Terrific going?

It’s great! They have mixed in just different forms of boxing and martial arts. I’m working with a great trainer out here in Vancouver. It’s a lot of fun to feel like an action star in a lot of ways. I’ve been involved in comedy for most of my career and the fact I can get in there and get my Will Smith on is really fulfilling.

Jumping off of that, how was it putting Mr. Terrific’s suit on for the first time?

Oh man! It was really euphoric. I was pretty much like, ‘I can’t believe this is real.’ It really felt stellar. I’ve been reading comics since I was seven or eight, it’s really come full circle and I feel fortunate that I get to be in this position. Just the nerves inside of me are just fanboying still. It’s so special. I just keep telling myself to play it cool. It’s really cool and I feel so self fulfilled. It’s truly awesome. 

How is it working with Rick Gonzalez and Madison McLaughlin to build Team Arrow 2.0?

It’s so great. Rick brings so much swag to the role and just the whole show in general. It’s infectious. Madison has so much poise and talent and skill. We all just love playing with each other. And we all really bonded through these characters. We hang out after we shoot and stuff like that. It’s a real fun dynamic to have with them and to mix it in with the team. I think fans will really dig what we’re putting out. 

You recently posted an Instagram photo of you, Emily Bett Rickards, and Carlos Valdes shooting the big crossover episode. Talk about geeking out. How’s filming going?

Oh man! Working with Carlos is so much fun. We’ve hung out multiple times last year and what not. He’s such a fun dude and just so gifted and funny. He just brings so much to that character. Any scene, he just lights it up. It was great to have a little back and forth with him and to really mix it up and bring both of our own comedic spins to our dialogue. It’s really great working with him. 

Emily Bett Rickards and Echo Kellum in the Arrow episode "The Candidate." Photo Credit: The CW
Emily Bett Rickards and Echo Kellum in the Arrow episode “The Candidate.” Photo Credit: The CW

Arrow season five is said to have the theme “legacy.” What’s Curtis looking to leave on Star City?

You know, I think the legacy he’s looking to leave is on humanity. I think Curtis is a very “big picture” type of guy. I mean he created a bio-stimulant last year that would actually help people walk that are paralyzed. And he created a power cell. In real life, I wished there was a good power cell. I’m always like, ‘Why is my iPhone battery at 5% every day!’ I think he really wants to have a big impact on the world. In the interim, he’s focusing on cleaning up the streets of Star City and I think that’s just really important to him. In the premiere, there’s a moment where he’s really vulnerable and I think that really invigorates him. He never wants to be in that position again. He wants to be able to defend himself and protect people.  

Quick Questions:

You are definitely one of the biggest Hamilton fans out there. If you could play one role in the musical, what would it be?

It would have to be Jefferson/Lafayette. Daveed Diggs looks like he had so much fun playing those characters. Just the energy Jefferson brings in that second act. You are just like, ‘Oh. My God!’ Just the way the show goes in that way. I would love to play that character. 

Current TV obsession?

Oh man! I’m loving Atlanta. It’s so good! Donald Glover is a genius among us all. I just love stories that compel. Whether it’s through his music, his art or his writing, Donald Glover is just a phenomenally gifted dude. I’m a big fan. Also, shout out to You’re the Worst.

If you were to guest star on any TV shows right now, what would it be?

You know, I got to do a little recurring thing on You’re the Worst last year, so I was very happy. A show that I really, really love that I think I would love to be on because it’s so silly and they really play with reality a lot is Man Seeking Woman. The storytelling and just taking things and amplifying them just seems like so much fun to play with. That’s a show I would love to do a guest star on. Also, The Walking Dead!

The Walking Dead is one of my favorite shows, so I approve. 

Yes!! I’m reading the graphic novels right now and a lot of character stuff is changed and I’m just like, ‘Oh. My Gosh!’ It’s phenomenal that the show is so good, but it didn’t prepare me for the graphic novel. The graphic novel is just on a level of its own. It’s so great!

If you were to throw down in a lip sync battle, what would you sing?

Oh man! Lip sync battle! See, my go to karaoke songs are “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi and “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon. But for Lip Sync Battle I feel like I would want to do some hard core, dope Eminem song. So I can just say “I’m Slim Shady y’all.”

First superhero movie you remember seeing and connecting with.

It would have to be Superman movies since I was a little kid with Christopher Reeves. Probably Superman. I also just love Superman IV. I used to watch that on repeat over and over and over. Also when Batman came out with Michael Keaton. But, it was originally the Superman movies where I was like, “Holy crap!”

Arrow season five premieres Wednesday October 5th at 8/7c on The CW

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