While I still have to catch up and watch last night’s new episode of “Arrow,” I could not escape the news of a cast member who has now officially left the show. Spoilers to follow if you have not seen last night’s episode yet.
Yes last night’s episode saw the departure of Willa Holland as Thea Quinn, as she went off on her own mission with Roy Harper. Below is a portion of an interview executive producer Marc Guggenheim did with TV Line about Thea’s departure, where he talks about how they worked out Thea’s exit with Willa Holland:
TVLINE | How long has this been in motion, the plan to write out Willa?
By the end of Season 4, Willa had expressed a desire to reduce her episodic commitment to the show and that was sort of done in sort of conjunction with an indication that it was likely that she wouldn’t want to renew her contract past Season 6. So, we’ve kind of known for a while that this was in the offing. We revisited it with Willa at the beginning of Season 6, and she indicated that she hadn’t changed her mind, that she was still interested in moving on.
We talked about some requests she had for us in terms of how her episodes would be utilized and grouped, and at what point in the season she would be written out, and we accommodated her on all those fronts because, look, at the end of the day we love Willa and we love working with her. She’s done right by us and so we wanted to do right by her.
TVLINE | It’s my understanding that part of what made it difficult for you, in considering her wish, was removing this important part of Oliver’s family.
That’s the thing. Apart from not getting a chance to work with Willa, that was probably the most painful aspect of it, because when we adapted the Green Arrow comic to live-action, one of the earliest and the biggest changes we made from the comic was to give Oliver a family. In the comic, he didn’t have siblings and his parents were both dead. This was a significant relationship for him and also, I think, one of the most effective elements of the show. The relationship between Stephen and Willa on camera was wonderful. But though we went into the season knowing that he’d be losing this relationship, we also knew he’d be—
TVLINE | Gaining a wife, gaining a son.
He’d be gaining a wife. He’d be gaining a son. And while we would do our best not to replace the relationship with Thea, we wanted to maintain a family element in his life.
TVLINE | Oliver did, though, give Thea his blessing.
Yeah, actually in the episode that preceded it, Oliver plants the idea in her head. He basically says, “Look, if you’re telling me that you’ve only been happy with Roy, then you should go with him.”
TVLINE | That was a great scene. Very emotional.
They were terrific. Again, that’s one of the things that’s hard about this is — Stephen and Willa are always terrific together. Their scenes are always really great scenes. At the same time, we are very philosophical about it — “This is the sort of thing that happens when you go past five seasons.” People start to reach the end of their contracts. People start to think about other opportunities. They want to stretch their legs creatively in different directions. This is a reality as old as television itself. So, you just wish everyone well.
While it is sad that Thea, a major character who’s been a big part of the show since the beginning is now leaving, it is good to learn that it was all done on good terms between the producers and Willa Holland. Though I do think that we will see her again at least one more time before the series is all over. I mean, she has to show up in the eventual series finale right?!
Be sure to check out the full interview with Marc Guggenheim over at TV Line, and I will be sure to see last night’s episode and the series’ send off to Thea for myself later tonight!