How would you describe your character in The Flash?
It’s interesting you ask this question first. This is my first foray into the comic book universe and this is the first time I’ve played a character where I’ve been told, “Don’t say too much about him.” There’s a lot that I can’t say about the character yet, but I will say that there’s a very strong bond between Harrison Wells and Barry Allen. You’re just going to have to watch and see how that pans out.
What attracted you to the show?
For starters, it’s nice to be able to play a handsome guy! [Laughs] No, in all honesty – it’s very enjoyable to be part of something that has almost a century of mythology behind it. The other aspect that appealed to me was reuniting with guys like [The Flash executive producers] Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti. I’ve worked with Greg a few times before and he’s often called me with new projects to say, “I think I have something that you’ll enjoy.” He’s never let me down. When he calls, it’s always good. He called up with this show and he’s delivered on every front.
What can viewers expect from The Flash?
If people are fans of The Flash and comic books in general, they will not be disappointed with the first nine episodes. We’re not holding things back. It’s story after story after story. Early on, I said to Greg Berlanti, “Are we at all worried about the story and being able to regenerate from here?” Greg replied, “There’s always more story.” They are presenting stories that you’d think they’d keep in their back pocket for later. They are bringing out these stories fearlessly. That’s not often the case with television, but it’s tremendous for us as actors. We’re reading the scripts and going, “Wow, that’s coming already? Amazing!”
How does it feel to appear in a super hero show?
When I was four years old, I’d put on a cape and run around pretend I was a super hero. Now, it’s 30 years later and I’m paid money to do it. It’s fantastic. It’s a very, very cool time to be doing a comic book story. I love what they are doing with the show and I don’t think they could do it like this five years ago. What they are doing with our show is very, very slick. It’s very impressive.
How much of a comic book fan are you?
I love comic books. The comic books I grew up with – Tin Tin, The Flash and Batman – were very significant, but when you read them you felt like you were cheating a little bit because you weren’t reading a book. When I was a young adult, I felt like people would think, ‘What? You like comic books?’ They’d look down on it. But now it’s cool. I’m a beneficiary of that right now, so I’m happy that comic books have become this huge, massive thing.
Does this mean you’ve been a fan of The Flash since childhood?
I had The Flash comic books in Africa, which is where I grew up – but then I got alongside the creators of this show and I realised that I’m very much a neophyte. I thought I was knowledgeable on comic books, but then I met the executive producers of The Flash and I realised that I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s been a learning curve for me, which is nice.
What went through your mind when you discovered the news that this television version of The Flash will take its own direction, away from the story of the comic books?
It’s easier for my character to take a different direction, which will get unveiled as the season progresses. It’s a lot harder for Grant Gustin, who plays Barry Allen [aka The Flash]. I’m excited about it, but it’s a funny situation. When Ben Affleck jumps into the Batman suit, the pressure’s on because of what’s come before him. In our case, those pressures are lessened simply because we have [Chief Creative Officer of DC Comics] Geoff Johns working on our show. We want to tell this story in the most electrifying way we can, so I will say this about Greg, Geoff and Andrew: when they start the season, they are fearless. The first nine episodes have the gloves off and they are taking huge swings. It’s amazing.
What do you like about your character in the show?
I’m generally semi-forthcoming with all this information in interviews, but I have to dodge the question here because I’m not allowed to give away too much. In The Flash, the most definable character is The Flash – but most people know what happened to him and what we can expect from him. We know who he was, we know what he wants and we know where he’s going. When it comes to the rest of the characters in any good comic book, you need to have lots of twists and turns for the supporting cast. As actors, it’s tremendous for us to get to play that. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see what happens.
In the pilot episode, your character plays a lot with his glasses. Is that deliberate?
Yes, that is very deliberate. When Andrew, Gregg and Geoff started talking to me about my character, I had a bunch of ideas about Harrison and how I wanted to portray him. The wardrobe is one thing… And again, you’ll find out more about that soon enough – but the glasses were a huge part of portraying the character. You’ll just have to watch and see.
Did you watch Arrow before you started work on the spinoff, The Flash?
No, I didn’t see any Arrow before I started work on The Flash. Is that bad to say? In a strange way, we’re the beneficiaries of them doing so well – but The Flash itself has a stand-alone mythology. The show itself starts essentially from ground zero, which was a tactical thing. It was a very intelligent idea to start at the beginning of the story for anybody that doesn’t know about The Flash. This means that anybody who wants to come on board is welcome. It’s going to be a very fun ride.