Cousins Stephen Amell, 32, and Robbie Amell, 25, are used to having “Football Sundays” together, but starting Oct. 9, they’ll share something else: “Amell Wednesdays.”
The CW will air their action-packed dramas back-to-back (the returning Arrow at 8 p.m., followed by The Tomorrow People at 9 p.m.). We chatted with them for EW’s Fall TV Preview issue, on newsstands now. Read that Q&A to find out who’s shirtless in more episodes this season (so far) and where Robbie falls on the list of people Stephen will call to babysit (his wife, Cassandra Jean, is expecting their first child later this year). In the meantime, here’s more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What’s the most heroic thing you’ve seen each other do in real life?
Robbie (star of The Tomorrow People): I didn’t see him do it, but [in early 2005] Stephen tried to stop a fight on the street in Toronto and ended getting a bottle smashed over his head. He stopped the fight from happening with his skull. I think that’s a pretty badass, heroic thing to do.
Stephen (star of Arrow): I was successful, retrospectively, but at the time it didn’t feel that way. I had some staples in the back of my head. … I think we’ve teamed up for some pretty heroic beer-pong runs.
Robbie: Oh my goodness, Stephen and I are, for lack of a better word, phenomenal at beer pong.
Stephen: We egg each other on because of our hyper-competitive nature.
Robbie: What did we have, like, 11 wins in one night one time?
You both grew up in Toronto. What did you do together as children?
Robbie: I was so young. I remember pool parties. His family’s house had a pool, so my family would go over and swim. And video games, for sure. This was so long ago, it was Super Nintendo. Stephen even had the Super Scope — the big huge rocket-launcher-looking gun that comes with Super Nintendo. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. That’s probably the main reason why I hung out with him.
Stephen: We were able to have that relationship for a couple of years, because with the age gap, there’s that sort of spot where you’re a little paternal almost, and then you get to the spot where that would be weird [Robbie laughs], and then you circle back to where you can become friends again, and that’s where we are now.
Was it easy to reconnect as adults in L.A.?
Robbie: Yeah, it’s one of those things where family and good friends, even if you haven’t seen them for a long time, it happens pretty quickly. All of my close friends out there brought Stephen in right away. We’ve got a really good group out there, and Stephen would host Football Sundays every Sunday.
Stephen: There’s enough of a genetic overlap that things just picked up really quickly again. Robbie and I have certain things that are very different about us, but there’s just an overwhelming number of things that you can just tell that we’re family.
Robbie: We were watching the Olympics at a bar [in 2010], and I walk in late, and my first two comments were the first two things Stephen said when he sat down. Everybody was like, “What the hell just happened?” Something about the size of the TV. And I don’t know if it was the thing I ordered.
Were your paths into acting similar?
Robbie: I totally fell into acting. I had done commercials and stuff when I was young, but [2005's] Cheaper by the Dozen 2 was the first movie audition I had ever had. It was supposed to be a non-speaking role. I ended up getting a couple lines, but I was there for 80 percent of the shoot. It kinda jump-started the whole thing. But Stephen had been doing it for a little while at that point, right? Maybe a year or two?
Stephen: Yeah. It’s weird, because we ended up getting to roughly the same spot in the industry but we went about it in a completely different way. Robbie just jumped right into it and was in Los Angeles almost immediately, and it took me almost six years to go to L.A. full-time and really commit to it in the same way. When I saw Robbie in Toronto [when he was filming Cheaper by the Dozen 2], I remember I was walking up Yonge Street, and I saw Robbie pulling over in a Mustang. My first consideration was, “How is he possibly old enough to drive?” And my second consideration was, “You’re what? You’re acting? You’re doing this movie here?”
Are there any other actors in the family?
Robbie: My dad did [2000's] American Psycho. He used to do background work back then. It’s one of my favorite movies. I had seen it probably six or seven times, and I was sitting there watching it, and he phoned me, and he asked me what I was doing, and I told him, and he was like, “Oh, you’re watching my movie?” I just kind of laughed and continued talking to him because I didn’t know what he was talking about. And then he came back to it, and I was like, “What are you talking about?” And he told me where to look for him, and sure enough, he’s the bartender in the background. All I thought was, “What if you died and I was watching the movie one time, and there you were in the background?” [Laughs]
Stephen: Oh my God.
Robbie: A little dark, but it would’ve been super weird. That’s as close as any of the rest of the family is to acting.
Robbie, what kind of advice has Stephen given you?
Robbie: I kinda got to sit shotgun while he went through being number one on a massive TV show with huge stunts and a lot of action, and pretty much as heavy a workload as you can get in this industry. He would talk to me about things, so I found myself adequately prepared for this year. When he did give me advice, it was just to make sure that I do my work, and I get my sleep, because it’s the best job in the world, but it’s a lot of work.
Stephen: It’s a long, long process shooting the first season. Robbie has done a couple of series before, but just getting in to 22/23 episodes nonstop, it’s just different. And you really need to prepare yourself for the grind of it all. One of the nice things has been a lot of the directors that we had on Arrow have gone over to Tomorrow People, and I know that we share the stunt departments on the shows, so a lot of the things that we had to work out last year and didn’t really get operating smoothly until maybe episode 11, 12, 13 have hopefully slid over to Robbie’s set, and I hope you guys are having a smoother ride. Not that ours was troublesome, but I think it’s been helpful.
Robbie: Like Stephen said, you learn so much in 22 episodes. They’ve come over to our show, and it doesn’t feel like we’re shooting a first season, because the people that we’re working with are so good at what they do.
Greg Berlanti, who exec-produces both of your shows, told us a quality he sometimes wishes you didn’t have in common was liking to do your own stunts: “Something happens to them, and you’re done.”
Stephen: In the third episode this year, I’m running through a field and explosions are going off, and when I got up from one take, everyone had come up from behind the monitors and was staring and legitimately thought that I had been blown up and the show was over. I was perfectly fine.
Robbie: I haven’t gotten blown up yet, but I’m hoping for something like that. That sounds awesome.