One year ago, Stephen Amell was striving toward the most ambitious goal he had ever set for himself as an actor. ”I wanted to work 100 days out of 365,” says the Toronto native, 31. ”That’s a pretty high goal when you’re an actor in Hollywood without a steady job.” He’s right: Despite appearances on several shows in 2011, including The Vampire Diaries and Hung, Amell failed to meet his objective. And yet the impact he made in 2011 paid off in 2012, with a star-making job that should keep him busy for some time to come.
As the lead on The CW’s Arrow — a gritty, modern-day Robin Hood tale with epic scope, based on the DC Comics superhero archer — Amell headlines one of the surprise hits of the 2012–13 TV season. A great deal of the series’ popularity is owed to his charisma, intensity, action-hero chops, and, sure, those abs. While it may be unseemly to dote on any thespian’s physique, Amell’s six-pack does speak volumes about his drive. He says he wasn’t ripped before he got the part on Arrow, although he might have been had he landed a job he pursued but failed to get: as the late Andy Whitfield’s replacement on the Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. ”One of the reasons why I was disappointed to not get that part was because I knew it provided an opportunity to push myself physically,” says Amell, who confesses he actually ”hates the gym” and cites Brad Pitt’s transformation for Troy as an inspiration. ”There’s only a brief period of time in anyone’s life where you can do something like that.” That said, Amell is grateful for his newfound success (”I wouldn’t have been ready for it had it come sooner”) on a show he’s fiercely proud of and believes is getting better and better. ”I would have to have a kid to care about something more than I care about Arrow,” he says. ”If someone messes with it, I’d be like, ‘Don’t you mess with my son!”’ With muscles like Amell’s, who would dare?