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The Cast and EPs of The Flash & Arrow Discuss Heroes and Villains

Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/The CW

Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/The CW

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

I always get excited when The CW brings the cast of Arrow and The Flash together. TV Goodness got to attend the LA screening of the epic Arrow/Flash crossover, so when I heard the heroes and villains were coming together for a panel at the Winter 2015 TCAs, I got excited. The cast and EPs talks about the evolution of our heroes, finding the right actors for the villain roles and so much more.

Why are there so many superhero shows on television right now?

John Barrowman: “Because geeks rule the world.”

Stephen Amell:Arrow came out in 2012 and a lot of people liked the pilot, but talked about how genre shows, specifically comic-book adaptations, didn’t work that well on television. Then it did, so now there are more. I think that’s pretty much it. At the crux of that are the [EPs] because they are nicely connected with DC. Not to speak on their behalf, but they’re fans of the genre, which is why it works well.

Andrew Kreisberg: “Absolutely. We couldn’t have imagined doing Flash and certainly Arrow. Arrow is a much more stunt‑driven show. We have the most amazing stunt team on both shows, led by JJ Makaro and James Bamford. But when it came to Flash, you couldn’t do anything like that, even when we started Arrow.

Every episode that comes along, we’re basically reinventing the wheel and coming up with new and different ways to do things. You look at all genre superhero shows that are coming out, they’re all raising the bar for what you can do on television. We always said at any given time you flip on TV and Dark Knight‘s on, Iron Man‘s on and you have to be competing with those [films].

The one thing TV can do really well is, obviously, you can get much deeper into the emotional lives of the characters and tell longer story arcs. But if you’re not keeping up with the effects, that stuff tends to get lost. So it’s really an amalgamation of everything.”

Greg Berlanti: “The only other thing I’d probably add to it is just we really don’t think of them like superhero shows and genre shows. I know it’s probably hard to believe, but we get most excited when we’re in the writing room to work with these actors and to create stories and character stories and character journeys for these people and the people that are up in Canada right now.

It’s no different from when I’ve been able to participate in family shows or teen dramas or straight‑on character shows. It often feels the same. It’s what’s the heart of the story, what are we following, why do we care, why is this going to be exciting and interesting and how can we craft a scene that’s as talented as all the people we’re surrounded by right now.”

When you know you have these villains coming up, do you have actors in mind that you want or do you write to that?

Andrew: “It was Greg’s idea to go after Wentworth.”

Greg: “We would make a list and at the top of the list would be an actor’s name that we thought we wouldn’t be able to get and they’re on the stage today. So everyone was our first choice. We’re really, really, really lucky. We do tend to write to that, I think, because we get excited by the notion of what they can do and that inspires us.”

Andrew: “And I believe Dominic [Purcell] is here because of Wentworth. Because we asked Wentworth if he had any ideas for Heat Wave and –”

Wentworth Miller: ” I could take credit or I’m responsible for it.”

Andrew: Take credit.”

Wentworth and Dominic, can you talk a little bit about this reunion? 

Dominic Purcell: “I’ve often said that Wentworth and I have an intuitive understanding of each other as human beings, firstly, and that resonates with us on screen. The last time we worked together has been five years back. I remember the first day on the set. It was just there, the magic was there, the ease, the flow. We just work really well together.”

Did Wentworth have to really convince you or was it an easy yes?

Dominic: “I got a call from Wentworth saying, ‘Hey, I’m doing this show, The Flash,’ and I said, ‘Oh, that’s great. Congratulations.’ And then he said, ‘Would you come on board,’ and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ I love to work with Wentworth. I’m pretty naive to the whole comic-book world.

I, of course, have done my research now. My kids think it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my f*cking life and I’m having so much fun with this character. I mean, he allows me to be bold and big and broad and explosive and things that I really appreciate and enjoy.”

Can you talk about bringing Dominic on the show and working together in such different roles?

Wentworth: “One of the best things about working with Dominic is that we’ve got chemistry, we’ve got intimacy, we’ve got history. And these are qualities that our characters share as well. You’re meant to believe that Heat Wave and Captain Cold [have] spent time in the trenches together and we just had that inherently as actors the moment they yelled ‘Action.’ So that was a real advantage.”

How many costume vigilantes does Starling City have room for? Is Brandon Routh‘s Ray Palmer going to be coming and joining them?

Marc Guggenheim: “I think Ray is on a slightly different track than the other members of Team Arrow, the other people who are filling up the lair. His connection, obviously, is through Felicity. One of the things that has always been part of the design of season 3 is that there would be more and more, quote‑unquote, costume characters populating Starling City.

Oliver started off just as one man. When he said in the pilot that he had a plan, he never envisioned all these characters, all these other people being part of that plan. He thought he would be a solo act. So part of what he experienced this year is seeing the crusade grow beyond him and that’s very much by design. It ties into pretty much everything we’ve got planned for season 3, which I can’t go into further detail on it without spoiling something.”

It’s rare for an actor to be known for playing two superheroes. Brandon, can you talk about your decision to sign up for this? Were you looking to do another superhero role that would maybe open up a new audience to you?

Brandon Routh: “When this was proposed to me, it was just a meeting to come and talk about this idea that they had for a character. I was hesitant, yes, to be honest, stepping into this DC world again. Really never thinking that would happen, that I would never play another superhero, having played, in my mind, the pinnacle character.

But I went forth with open arms, because I appreciated the work of the show, of seeing Arrow and the great work they were doing there. It’s been nothing but an amazing experience getting to play a character that I get to go and have fun and be light most of the time and have fun with Emily.

It’s just become such a cool experience. Everyone on the show is amazing to work with and it’s loved. It’s good to be a part of the show that’s so well loved and appreciated. I’m loving playing this character. So, yeah, I would love to keep playing him as much as possible.”

Will we see an Atom spin-off? Is anything in development with that?

Greg: “We are in very early talks on a very general idea that we haven’t dug deeper on yet and we’re not allowed to say anything about it yet. That’s all I can say.”

Marc: “Right now we’re just trying to get the suit finished.”

Katie, can you talk about being able to kick butt now and tapping into that dark side?

Katie Cassidy: “I’ve been waiting for this to happen and I’m obviously very excited and thrilled about it. When I originally sat down and met with Andrew and Marc and Greg, they [told] me this is where the character was going before we even shot the pilot.

But as we always said, every character has to earn it. You can’t just all of a sudden overnight become a superhero. You have to go through this journey. Season 2, for Laurel, she definitely hit rock bottom and was able to come back on top, so that now in season 3, and after losing her sister, she goes from avenging her sister, to honoring her sister, to becoming her sister. It’s been amazing. I love to kick some ass.”

How do you guys keep The Flash from getting too goofy and cheesy, but keep it really fun and earnest, as actors?

Tom Cavanagh: “Well, we say the words on the page, what we’re supposed to say. [Laughs.] I think you hit the nail on the head in one respect, in that for all of us on this stage, since we were children, getting a chance to do this stuff is actually fun, which is the word you use. For me, personally and Grant, we have a lot of fun. How could you not when you look at what we get to do.

So that carries most of the battle, I think, in terms of keeping things loose. We’re proceeding from gratitude. We know it’s a good job and a fun job and we’re grateful for it, which, I think, there’s some ephemeral translation to that on the screen, perhaps.”

Grant Gustin: “In the respect of not letting it get too big and goofy and whatnot, the green screen work scared me early on, because I had never done anything like that. There’s nothing in front of you, you have to imagine it at all.

But I’ve been playing a superhero since I was a kid. You don’t think you’re goofing around as a kid; you take it very seriously. As an actor, what I always try to find first in a scene is just what is my truth in that scene. If I can just find truthfulness in any scene, no matter how big it is, then it’s going to be grounded.”

You have these cool photos up with the characters.  The one that just flashed, no pun intended, was Tom and Reverse Flash. Should that mean case closed on what’s going on there, or is there —

Tom: “What do you mean ‘case closed?’ Like he dies? Do you mean he dies? What do you mean ‘case closed?’ What are you getting at?”

Is there a yellow costume in your on‑screen future?

Tom: “Oh, I see what you’re saying. Well, I tried to deflect as best I could.”

Greg: “Yeah.”

Tom: “Sure, they use a man in a yellow suit. I think the short answer to your question is — what was your question again?”

Are you Reverse Flash?

Tom: “Yes, I am Reverse Flash.”

Did the producers have any comment on that?

Andrew: “I think he’s doing a great job.”

Tom, when we’re talking about heroes and villains of The Flash, you’re, in essence, both. Can you talk about everything you have to do with this role and how you’re tackling it?

Tom: “It’s a real joy to play. You’ve got a dual purpose for everything you say, dual goals, all that duality, as an actor, it’s a joy to play, because you’re trying to approach it from different levels. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don’t.

But one of the tremendous things is to have lines that go, ‘I look forward to seeing you soon,’ stuff like that, which is layered with all sorts of different things, because he’s the Reverse Flash, but also Harrison Wells.

His agendas don’t necessarily make him a bad guy, not a mustache-twirling bad guy. He needs Barry to do well and, essentially, Barry needs him to further his own powers. So the fact that he’s got certain complications is a joy to play. You always want to temper what you’re doing, so I don’t want to hammer it and make me seem like a very dangerous and mean character.

You want to give them a bit of a middle ground. For me, personally, the way they write it, it’s never landing too heavily on one side. What the effect of that is simply having people ask is he good or is he bad. When they ask that question I feel like, in some ways, we’ve accomplished our goal.”

A lot of people will recognize you still as Ed. Is there a particular sense of fun now, being able to really turn things on their head?

Tom: “One of the great things about this job, and I think any job in particular, it’s not like I’m besieged with opportunity all the time. That’s the actor’s life. It’s not like we get to pick and choose, maybe I’ll do that, maybe I’ll do this one. For some people, certainly. Right, Victor?”

Victor Garber: “I guess.”

Tom: “But for a lot of us, you don’t know where the opportunity comes. When it’s something like this, it certainly is very different from other characters I’ve played. This is my first foray into the comic-book genre and I think for all of us, as Dom said, it’s very freeing. You get to be big, you get to be small and you get to do so much. It’s all justified.”

Dominic: “It’s a lot of fun. The character that I’m playing, this is my best role besides Lincoln in Prison Break. This is the most fun I’ve had as an actor, because we were allowed to not be so serious. We get to play and we get to be broad and we get to kind of be like Heath Ledger and The Joker. I mean, it’s just so much fun.”

John: “What’s great to hear, though, is guys talking like that who were not into comic books and things when, like what Grant said earlier, those of us who are complete fans of the genre have been engulfed with comic books and super hero stuff, sci‑fi, you name it. For those of us it’s like they’ve discovered this.

We used to play with our Imago action figures of these characters and now we are these characters. It’s the absolute dream job. For us to be able to be those people on screen and on camera and have other people come along the journey with us, that is the biggest gift and it’s amazing.”

Dominic: “It also allows a lot of laughs on set and that’s very important. That’s part of the magic about these kind of shows.”

There was a lot of speculation that Eddie Thawne, given the similarity in his name to the Reverse Flash in the comics, that he would turn out to be Reverse Flash.  Is that something that still could happen or could there be two Reverse Flashes?

Tom: “Or three Reverse Flashes.”

Andrew:Rick Cosnett very amazingly plays Eddie Thawne and his name is not an accident. We’ve been really blessed with The Flash.

Greg and I were talking about this the other day, that so many of the plans that we had set up early on, you do that. You know, you have a plan, and sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t. But a lot of things seemed to have really worked out. And Eddie’s connection to the Reverse Flash lore is going to pay off big time in the back half of the year.”

Were you surprised at this point in your career to be doing a superhero villain?

Victor Garber: “Wouldn’t you be? It never crossed my mind, seriously. I mean, I did play Jesus once.

But really, it’s the three gentlemen to my right and Marc were involved in a show a few years ago called Eli Stone and it was one of the best experiences I ever had.

So as soon as I got the call about this, I basically said yes before I really knew anything about it because I knew I was in good hands. Unfortunately, I have to work with Robbie Amell, but that seems to be working out.

No, I was so impressed with the pilot and the people that I’m sitting on the stage with, I’m literally kind of in shock that I’m even sitting here, really. I just think they’re amazing. And so I’m really happy to be doing it.”

How you guys work together?

Robbie Amell: “We worked together a couple years ago and I had a great time with Victor. We only worked for a couple weeks, but my fiancée was a huge Titanic fan.

Before Victor and I had really spent any time together, he found that out. She came to set and before I even saw her he beelined to her and couldn’t have been a more amazing person, just hung out with her.”

Victor: “She’s even prettier than Robbie.”

Robbie: “So, he was already amazing, in my books and then I was cast as Ronnie before Victor as Martin. Greg mentioned that he wanted to cast Victor and I told him we had worked together and how excited I would be if that worked out.”

Victor: “Me, too, yeah.”

When you’re sharing a character like that, how does it work? 

Victor: “Well, it’s really special effects. We have a great sense of chemistry too. We just enjoy each other’s company a lot. We’re never actually conjoined. So, I don’t know how that would work out. We’re two separate people who happen to be enjoying it. It’s really challenging and fun. That didn’t answer your question at all, really.”

Andrew: “No.”

David, you were part of Team Arrow from the beginning. Roy comes in, he immediately gets full costume. Have you been pressuring the bosses for more or are you comfortable sticking with civilian clothing?

David Ramsey: “Heroes don’t need costumes. [Cheering from the audience.] Yes, to answer your question. Obviously, that’s been a big question that’s been all over the Internets. Diggle has something to protect, right. He has a wife and child at home.

Oliver says something very interesting in one of the episodes that masks aren’t to protect you, [it’s] to protect the people you love. So, yeah, we’re toying around with some of that stuff.

But, Diggle is exceptional, because of his normalcy. Everyone is extraordinary on this show. Everyone is dealing with a crucible that they haven’t quite adjusted to. Diggle’s crucible, which is Afghanistan, he has adjusted to it. He has a potential wife and child at home, and he has no debate in his spirit as to balancing that and his crime‑fighting at night.

You don’t want to take that normalcy from him, because I think that’s what makes him accessible, that’s what makes him normal and what also makes him a leader. So, a mask does something else to him, I think. So we’ll see.

The producers and I are talking about it and they’ve thrown some things at me and it’s all great stuff. But I think part of the appeal of Diggle is that any of you can be him and you don’t want a mask to take that away from him.”

In terms of casting, how important is it that Diggle is a black man in this universe?

David: “Well, for me, it’s important for employment. [Laughs.] But aside from that, I think it is important. You hit on serious issues.

It’s important for television, I think, just as a whole, to see this man as probably the second in command on Team Arrow with a wife, potential wife and a child, adjusted to his time overseas as a soldier. I think that’s an important story no matter what color he is, but particularly if he’s African-American and particularly in the DC world, in the comic-book world, in general.

So I’m proud of him. I’m proud also that he’s part of the DC lore. He’s now part of the DC canon and that 15 years from now this is an honorable soldier, an honorable person in this DC universe that can be played by someone else, that has an existence of his own, that started here.

So, is it important? You’re damn right. It’s very important for a number of different reasons. I’m glad you asked that question. It’s a very good question.”

Edited for space and content.

The Flash returns Tuesday, January 20th at 8/7c on The CW. Arrow returns Wednesday, January 21st at 8/7c on The CW.

VIDEO

The Flash “Revenge of the Rogues” preview:

Arrow “Left Behind” preview:

Arrow: Inside “Left Behind”

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