‘This Is Us’ Star Justin Hartley Says He’s ‘Really Proud’ Having Played Green Arrow in ‘Smallville’

Justin Hartley will always have a special place in his heart for his days spent playing a superhero.

People might know the 43-year-old from his current role as Kevin Pearson on NBC’s award-winning drama, This Is Us, now in its fourth season. However, in his earlier years as an actor, he played a superhero.

Hartley, 43, portrayed the DC character Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow on Smallville, the long-running TV show from The WB (now The CW). It starred Tom Welling as a young Clark Kent in his pre-Superman days as he managed his developing superpowers. Smallville premiered in Oct. 2001 before ending after 10 seasons in 2011. 

Justin Hartley joined ‘Smallville’ in 2006 during Season 6

At the age of 29, Hartley landed a recurring role on Smallville as Oliver and Green Arrow. Prior to that, he had spent four years starring in Passions, an ABC soap opera, according to his acting credits on IMDb. His role in Smallville certainly worked out because it became a more permanent gig with Hartley sticking around for the second half of the series. 

Justin Hartley speaks at the 'Smallville' panel at Comic-Con on July 25, 2010
Justin Hartley speaks at the ‘Smallville’ panel at Comic-Con on July 25, 2010 | Wendy Redfern/Redferns

He made his debut in Oct. 2006 as Oliver and Green Arrow in Smallville Season 6 Episode 2: “Sneeze” and went on to appear in 72 episodes of the show making his last appearance in the series finale.

His role was initially meant to be brief

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly’s Editor-In-Chief JD Heyman at The Savannah College of Art and Design’s aTVfest, Hartley reflected on his part in Smallville saying it wasn’t supposed to last long. 

“It was [originally] four or six episodes, this arc they had written for me. And then he was to be gone,” Hartley said of Oliver Queen and Green Arrow. 

What kept the character and the actor around? How Smallville viewers responded. “Thankfully, the people that watched the show, they loved this character. He had a lot to say,” Hartley added.

He continued, saying the relationship between Clark and Oliver became integral to the series. 

Justin Hartley attends the SCAD aTVfest on Feb. 29, 2020
Justin Hartley attends the SCAD aTVfest on Feb. 29, 2020| Paul R. Giunta/WireImage

“When you saw that show and you saw when Oliver came on and how he interacted with Clark and what he brought out in Clark and how he moved Clark in a direction where we know he’s going — Superman — it became like an essential part of the show and I’m really proud of it.”

Justin Hartley’s favorite part of Green Arrow: ‘I always loved the fact that he was mortal’

In the same conversation, Hartley recalled talking to Al Gough and Miles Millar, the creators of Smallville, about making the character true to his comic book beginnings. He had to be a real person who risked his life whenever he fought villains which also happened to be Hartley’s favorite part about the character. 

“I always loved the fact that he was mortal. I loved the fact that when he got hit, he got hurt. And he could die,” Hartley said. 

After the actor’s time as Oliver Queen and Green Arrow ended in 2011, he moved on to other acting jobs before ending up on This Is Us. Meanwhile, The CW decided to give the superhero his own series. In 2012, Arrow debuted on the network starring Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen and Green Arrow. It ran for 8 seasons before ending in Jan. 2020.