When Arrow star Stephen Amell teased the show’s second season finale to EW, he said, “If we can’t win the stunt Emmy for this episode, then the system is broken, for sure. I’m starting a campaign, because it’s movie s— that we do in this finale.” Well, it’s working. The show’s stunt coordination was voted Most Likely to Earn Someone an Emmy in our 5th Annual Season Finale Awards.
Stunt coordinator J.J. Makaro and fight coordinator James Bamford phoned in to Entertainment Weekly Radio to accept the honor and chat about the blowout tunnel battle and the dual showdown between Oliver and Slade. “Both fights actually became more of a practical, on-the-day kind of situation,” Makaro says. “We really, really strongly rehearsed the final fight where we had to figure out where the editing points were gonna be [between past and present], but [the tunnel] was more a logistical planning situation where we just put James in a room and he just sat there and he planned. He sat for hours staring at the tunnel [thinking] where he was gonna put his people, where the camera was gonna move.”
Makaro is quick to point out that his team succeeds because of the respect the show’s other departments have for what they do. He also says he and Bamford are used to hearing the question we asked them: How in the world do you top this?
“We have that question asked of us every episode,” Makaro says. “We’ve got the most incredible writers. They come up with terrific ideas, they use them to fuel our imaginations and leave us open to take that and make it even bigger. So they keep pushing the bar higher and higher and higher for us. And that’s the fun and thrill of doing the show…. ‘Try to top this, try to top this.’ Greg Berlanti, our producer, has a mantra that says, ‘Never leave anything behind.’ Don’t save anything for tomorrow. Give it your best, give it your all, and then figure out tomorrow how to do it better.”
Listen to the interview below (at one point we lose Bamford, who was kind enough to call from Italy). Then watch those epic fight scenes again.
Watch the tunnel fight.
Watch Oliver versus Slade.