Artemis Returns: A Chat With Madison McLaughlin

Madison McLaughlin as Artemis in the 'Arrow' episode "What We Leave Behind."
Madison McLaughlin as Artemis in the ‘Arrow’ episode “What We Leave Behind.”

Actress Madison McLaughlin joined the cast of Arrow as Evelyn Sharp at the end of the fourth season and returned this year to join Team Arrow as Artemis; she turned evil and revealed that she was working undercover for bad guy Prometheus a few episodes back and has not been seen since. Producer Marc Guggenheim tweeted that Artemis returns to the show this week.

Prior to becoming Artemis, Madison was best known as Krissy on Supernatural, Michelle on Chicago PD, Paige on Teen Wolf, and Sally’s worldly school friend who flirts with Don Draper on the next-to-last episode of Mad Men. Also prior to becoming Artemis, she and her three sisters were students in my archery program, and whenever she’s in town, they drop in for a practice session. That was the case this weekend, and it gave me the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her career.

Madison practicing her archery.
Madison practicing her archery. Photo courtesy of Madison McLaughlin.

Naturally, she couldn’t tell me anything specific about the episode (when I worked on the Superhero Fight Club promo, I had to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement with a $5,000,000 penalty if I said anything about it before it aired, so I understand), but I did get a little bit of behind-the-scenes comedy from her, along with some information about her background. Since Maddie is a friend, I’m going to dispense with the formal GeekDad policy of using last names in these interviews.

Jim: We’ll start at the beginning: What’s the Secret Origin of Madison McLaughlin? How did you become an actor?

Madison: We have a cabinet full of VHS tapes of plays that I wrote and directed all my stuffed animals in from before I was even in elementary school. I’ve always loved the idea of telling stories and bringing storybook pages to life. My family and I moved from Louisiana to LA when I was eleven, and here we are!

Madison McLaughlin

Jim: Who are your role models, heroes, mentors and inspirations, either in showbiz or life?

Madison: I’ve been one of the lucky ones. I’m surrounded by powerful, generous, and kickass women. Between my mother, grandmother, and sisters, I’ve got a slew of strong women to look up to and learn from. In work, I’ve been extremely fortunate having the opportunity to work with great actors and artists, like Elias Koteas on Chicago PD and Simon Baker on the Mentalist. I watch Sterling Brown every week on This is Us and learn something new every Tuesday. I’m also really loving actresses like Gina Rodriguez and Sophia Bush, who not only blow me away every week with their performances, but use their platform to raise awareness for those who do not have the same microphone and spotlight they do. There’s a woman I’ve admired for years, who has helped me in my career and personal life time and time again, and her name is Pauley Perrette. She’s a captivating and empathetic actor, but also a compassionate, generous, Godly woman. Having people like Pauley be in my court as I navigated my way through my teenage years—and now my twenties—has been such a gift.

Team Arrow (L-R): Rick Gonzalez as Rene Ramirez/Wild Dog, Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt/Mr.Terrific, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/The Green Arrow, David Ramsey as John Diggle/Spartan, Madison McLaughlin as Evelyn Sharp/Artemis, and Joe Dinicol as Rory Regan/Ragman -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Team Arrow (L-R): Rick Gonzalez as Rene Ramirez/Wild Dog, Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt/Mr. Terrific, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/The Green Arrow, David Ramsey as John Diggle/Spartan, Madison McLaughlin as Evelyn Sharp/Artemis, and Joe Dinicol as Rory Regan/Ragman — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jim: Artemis has kind of a complicated history, in that she’s based on a number of different characters from the comics and cartoons; there’s Evelyn Crawford/Starling, Artemis, and Arrowette from the comics and Artemis from Cartoon Network’s Young Justice; none of them really parallel your character completely. Have you based your character on any of these predecessors, or is your Artemis an entirely new character?

Madison: I think our writers have done a really incredible job of creating a complex, tough as nails, scared, brave, and often relatable character, while also giving a nod to the comics and Young Justice. It’s always fun for me to see what the next move is for Artemis and what they have in store for her.

Jim: After first appearing as a Black Canary imposter, Evelyn became Artemis and somehow learned to become an expert archer. I haven’t seen any scenes showing anyone teaching you how to use a bow; have you come up with a back-story to explain how Artemis got so good so quickly?

Madison: I have… but I don’t want to give anything away in the event that we explore that on the show. I haven’t seen it in any scripts yet, but it’s likely to come up. Guess you’ll just have to wait and see!

Maddie goofing around on the range. Photo courtesy of Madison McLaughlin.

Jim: I know you had archery lessons before you ever got cast on the show (wink wink); how is TV archery different from real archery, and did your previous experience help? (By the way, your form looks great.)

Madison: Shucks, thanks! Although I think that’s a compliment for my instructors, Jim and Patricia, as much as it is for me. I started archery about four years ago, totally by accident. My family had recently seen Brave and my sisters wanted to try their hands at shooting. I went with them to the classes and didn’t even touch a bow the first week. I finally picked it up the following week and have been in love with it ever since! As we began shooting season five, I started working with archer extraordinaire and all around rockstar, Patricia Gonsalves, and boy oh boy did she whip me into shape. My shooting style on the show is very similar to how I started shooting four years ago, only a lot more polished, refined, and perfected. Our lessons consisted of jumping over couches while pulling an arrow and shooting, so it was an all-around work out. I also learned about the history of archery and different styles, because when you have Patricia Gonsalves teaching you, you soak everything up like a sponge. For the show, we really focused on making my shooting style a bit quicker, more defined, and giving me a “camera-friendly” anchor point… You can’t exactly cover your face on TV, you know. Stephen also helped a lot with how to carry and use a bow in the scene. The bow really becomes a scene partner, and Stephen shed some light on what’s worked best for him over the years, and that was really helpful.

Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Evelyn (Madison McLaughlin) enjoy Star City's public transit system. Photo courtesy of Madison McLaughlin
Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Evelyn (Madison McLaughlin) enjoy Star City’s public transit system. Photo courtesy of Madison McLaughlin

Jim: I know you’re involved with some charities; want to tell us about them?

Madison: My three sisters are all younger than I am, but exceptionally better in almost every way. Two of them have a rare disease and use a wheelchair or walker to get around. I’ve become really involved with Global Genes, an organization that works to shed light, raise awareness, and raise money for the research and treatment of people diagnosed with rare diseases. We have 5K walks/runs/rolls, fashion shows, events at Disneyland, and an annual educational summit that brings doctors, researchers, and patients together. I also work with Shane’s Inspiration, an organization that builds accessible playground all over the globe—for families of all abilities to play together. As the proud mom of a rescue dog, I’m also a big advocate for adopting rescue dogs. It’s a gift to have a platform, and I try to use it to help those who don’t have the same spotlight that I do.

Madison and her rescue dog, Ezra. Photo courtesy of Madison McLaughlin.
Madison and her rescue dog, Ezra. Photo courtesy of Madison McLaughlin.

Jim: Got any good backstage stories you can share?

Madison: Oh, man. Let me start by saying that any day Emily and Echo are on set at the same time, you KNOW to bring a change of clothes because you will pee yourself laughing. I have so many videos of them doing everything from impersonations to twerking to elaborate improvised raps. Em and Echo… do not cross me. I will release them.

OH, I do have a fun story. So, towards the beginning of season five, you see the recruits training a lot. Curtis and Evelyn were always paired up, which is visually hilarious, because Echo is 6’5″ and I’m 5’2″, and EVERY time you see us together, Evie kicks Curtis’ ass. Every single time. However, I bruise embarrassingly easily, so when we’d do these stunts, I’d walk off set covered in yellow, blue, purple, and green bruises… I looked like Bob Ross’ used paint palette. Echo always felt horrible, but I swore it always looked worse than it actually was. Until… a warm Vancouver afternoon at the tail end of the summer, Team Arrow was shooting in an abandoned hospital that was believed to be haunted (no, seriously). The air was sticky and my leather jacket kept gluing itself to my neck, using my own sweat as adhesive (glamorous, I know). It had been a long, hot day of shooting in a fog-filled room (this particular scene involved Curtis and Ragman blowing a wall up), and everyone’s masks were dripping off our faces. The scene consists of Team Arrow rescuing Adrian Chase (yikes, right?!) and some others from the clutches of Tobias Church. After wall goes, Wild Dog and Evie start shooting at the bad guys, while Curtis and Ragman get the others to safety. So, we go to shoot this take, right? As we all step out of the hole in the wall, I’m stepping over debris while Echo is gesturing for the victims to come to the exit. The problem is that Echo is a very large man and I am a very small little bean, and accidentally snuck past Echo just as he’s wildly waving at the ACU team… and I got slapped in the face. Hard. We kept going with the scene, and I somehow managed to strike my face with the string of my bow, AND getting my hair stuck in my quiver. By the end of the take, I needed makeup department to fix the mask and makeup (from Echo’s massive man hand and my mean bow), hair department to fix my hair, props department to fix the quiver, and our on-set medic to look at my ankle (that we later found out was sprained). Just another day on Team Arrow.

Jim: Can you tell us about anything coming up with Evelyn?

Madison: I can’t say much, but I CAN say this: watch this week’s episode. And remember… not everything is as it seems.

Jim MacQuarrie is a comics and animation geek, a professional cartoonist and graphic designer, professional balloon animal twister, a certified archery instructor (and yes, his arrows are green), former homeless person and occasional gadfly. He has three children who are all grown up, and an incredibly patient wife who is waiting for him to do likewise. Together they co-write the lifestyle blog Blue Collar, Black Tie.