Shining the Spotlight on Grant Gustin (2014)

Grant Gustin
Grant Gustin

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With all the buzz surrounding the upcoming pilot for the ARROW spin-off series THE FLASH, there are thousands of questions about what the show will entail, especially after Grant Gustin’s red hot appearance in ARROW last month.  During a press interview at the WB Mondo International Press Tour, Grant candidly shared all that he knows about what is upcoming for THE FLASH pilot and the fun he had portraying Barry Allen in ARROW.

Could you talk about how your character changes on ARROW?
GRANT:  Well, we’ve only done two episodes, and I haven’t seen THE FLASH pilot script yet, so I don’t know creatively where we’re going.  But when we meet Barry, he’s following up this lead on his mother’s murder that has basically become his life’s work since he was 11, trying to prove his father’s innocence, who was wrongly convicted for the murder of his mother. I think we’re going to see him find some confidence as his friendship with Oliver develops and with the team in general, just because I think they’re going to help instill a lot of confidence in him that’s lacking right now.  I think that will be the biggest change.

Can you talk about Barry’s story arc in ARROW?
GRANT:  A lot of good Barry‑Felicity scenes.  That’s mostly what’s happening.  And the beginning of an origin for Flash [in Episode 9].

Is there going to be actually hope for the Felicity‑Barry fans who are now just rapturous over their chemistry?
GRANT:  I don’t know.  I hope so.  We had a lot of fun playing all those scenes.  I know in episodes 8 and 9, there’s definitely some more fun scenes between Barry and Felicity.  I don’t know what the future is, though, of that.  I hope so.

What was your favorite scene to film so far?
GRANT:  Of ARROW?  Episode 9 is I personally think is one of the more exciting episodes of ARROW that they’ve ever done, for a lot of different reasons.  It’s the second part of the midseason finale.  And it’s going to live up to the hype, I think.  It’s a really, really good episode. Not just with Barry.  There’s a lot of great ARROW moments happening.  But the beginning of the origin story takes place towards the end of the episode.  And it is pretty true to the comics, and it’s pretty awesome.

Have you been told how they will launch the character off of ARROW and how that’s going to go into its own show?
GRANT:  No, I don’t know exactly how it’s going to happen.  Obviously, initially it was going to be the backdoor pilot and the pilot was still going to be a part of ARROW. That’s not happening, and now it’s going to be a separate standalone. I don’t even necessarily know if characters from ARROW are going to be making appearances necessarily.  I think the rumor is yes, that some potentially will.  But I don’t know.

How much can you talk about your own Flash show?
GRANT: I haven’t seen a pilot script yet.  So I can’t talk about it that much, other than that it’s, hopefully, happening and I’m going to be the guy playing Flash. (Laughs)

How faithful is your character to the original comics?
GRANT:  We’re working with Geoff Johns, who is with DC Comics and is pretty much the main writer for THE FLASH right now currently.  So we’re working with the best coming right from the comics. But I know we’re also kind of developing our own Flash and my own version of Barry and The Flash.  And it’s going to have, I think, tastes of a very classic Flash and a new spin on it as well.

What are you basing your own Flash on?
GRANT: The comics, obviously.  I’m reading everything I can get my hands on now and talking with Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg and the guys that know it all and just kind of throwing in my own flavor, just creating it basically from scratch in a way as well.

What do you like about Barry?
GRANT:  He’s likable.  He’s smart.  Yeah, he’s a likable person.  You root for this character.  You want him to succeed, and that’s fun to play.  It’s fun to be a likable character.  And he’s also about to become one of the coolest, most classic superheroes that there’s ever been.  So that’s pretty awesome too.

When you get approached to play a guy like THE FLASH, are there doubts because of, like, the furor surrounding casting choices on Batman and people like that, or are you just like, “Fuck yeah”?
GRANT:  Well deep down, I’m just kind of like, “Well, fuck yeah!”  (Laughs) But at the same time, when I got the audition for this, I couldn’t believe I was even having the opportunity to audition for it, knowing what I knew about the character.  And I’m a 23‑year‑old, lanky actor.  And the creative team saw something in me that they thought was innately the character and got me really excited about it and made me believe that as well.  So with something like this that there’s already all the information out there for the character and it’s been around for decades and decades, everyone’s going to have an opinion as to who should be playing it and who should not be playing it.  But yeah, for the most part, just don’t listen to that. I’m just really excited, and I can’t wait to do this pilot and get going.

So you didn’t know that much about Flash until you heard about this?
GRANT: I knew who he was.  I knew the name Barry Allen.  I knew what his suit looked like.  I knew that he was faster than Superman.  And that was about it.

How fast are you?
GRANT:  (Laughs) Fast enough to play the role.

Did you read comics as a kid?  Were there any comic book heroes that were your particular favorite?
GRANT:  Superman was.  I was a big [fan] because of Chris Reeve’s movies, and I read a little bit of comics, but I was not a big comic book reader as a kid.  I was obsessed with drawing as a kid, and I mostly only drew superheroes and Superman.  I was a big superhero fan in, like, weird ways, not really reading the comics.  I’m reading them all now.

As a Superman fan, why do you think characters like The Flash have struggled over the years to get the same sort of attention that Superman or a Batman have?
GRANT:  I really don’t know. I think that Flash has had some success longevity-wise.  It’s just Superman is the world’s hero, and Batman is just so badass and cool.  And, hopefully, this is going to change that.  Flash is, I think, equally as cool.  With the creative team that we have and the ARROW platform, we have an opportunity to make Flash cooler than he’s ever been.  So, hopefully, we’ll change that.

What are the biggest similarities between your character?  Because you got a character description.  And what are the things that you’re maybe most afraid?
GRANT: What drew me to him was his curiosity.  He wants knowledge, and he just is very curious about everything.  And I’ve always been a very curious person and wanting to know more about things that I’m interested in.  The things that we’re interested in are quite different, but I still can relate to his curiosity.

What are you interested in?
GRANT:  Acting, theater, dancing, singing, sports, some of which, I’m sure, Barry could also be interested in.  But, the whole science side is something I’m having fun exploring right now that I’ve never really explored before for a character.

What about the physicality?
GRANT:  The physicality is, actually, one of our bigger similarities because it’s myself playing the role.  And I use my body a lot in life and my face and my hands in life to talk.  And I’ve brought that into Barry some, for sure.

Are you going to have to do a lot of stunts on THE FLASH?
GRANT:  It’s going to be a lot different than what Stephen has to do.  I know that they’re doing a technology ‑‑ I don’t want to say too much about this because I don’t know if I’m allowed to, and I don’t want to get fired, but they’re doing some cool new things with how we’re going to do a lot of the stunts with Flash. I don’t think I can give any examples, but it’s going to be new and exciting technologies, I think, is what I’ve been told as to how they’re going to do some of the stunts.

Speaking of the singing, how was your experience on GLEE?
GRANT:  Great.  I loved working over there with everybody.  That was another group that, I joined them on the third season, and they were amazing, welcomed me with open arms.  Felt part of the family and jumped right in, full‑on musical numbers and everything.  So that was amazing.  My dream was to sing and dance on Broadway one day and, hopefully, end up in TV and film.  And I accidentally got to do it all kind of on TV.  So that was a dream come true.  It was awesome.

On the one hand, you have, obviously, the solitary opportunity of playing Barry and Flash in his own environment.  On the other, you have a show in ARROW that is clearly experimenting with playing a little bit of Justice League in the sense of like Black Canary and other kind of Justice League characters appearing.  Which of those two environments is more appealing to you, and why?
GRANT:  I think it’s really cool.  The whole Justice League thing is really cool.  I would love to see, like, more and more superheroes on TV.  I would love to see the universes connect.  I think that’s what most fans would want to see.  And the fan in me, that’s what I would want to see.

Playing this character and knowing how devoted comic fans are, do you go online and see what they have to say?
GRANT:  Yeah, you want to do that, and sometimes you give in and you do it.  But for the most part I try to not care or look at what people say online.  Just for my own emotional stability.  But I’d probably be looking anyway.  If it wasn’t me playing the role, I’d be checking out: what’s going on with the guy that’s playing The Flash, and is he doing a good job, and what’s he look like?  So I get it, but I try to mostly ignore all that. It’s harder with Twitter these days, too, when it’s just all in your feed.  So I do look sometimes.

Did you pick Stephen’s brain on how he approached Oliver and ARROW and how you might approach Barry and THE FLASH?
GRANT:  We didn’t get too much into all of that.  Me and Stephen, mostly he was just getting me ready for if the show goes and what life will be and what scheduling will be.  But to be honest, when me and Stephen work together, he’s got the schedule that he’s got, and we didn’t get to spend an incredible amount of time together on my two episodes, other than really the scenes that we filmed together because he also just had a baby.  He’s a busy guy.  He’s definitely probably the best guy right now to prepare me for what’s to come.  So I will be picking his brain, for sure.

Could you talk about the atmosphere on set?  GLEE is a comedy and a bunch of the same generation’s people hanging out.  And compared with this one, this one is more serious, but kind of almost same generation people.
GRANT:  You’d be surprised, actually.  I think in between takes, the ARROW set might be a funnier group than the GLEE set.  They do comedy all day long over there and musical numbers.  It’s like they sit down and have a cup of coffee in between every take.  And on ARROW, they’re a funny group.  I was surprised, actually.  It was a lot of fun working with that group.

Who is the biggest prankster on ARROW?
GRANT:  The prankster? David Ramsey, maybe.  He’s  hilarious.  He’s a prankster.  And Paul [Blackthorne].  He was not what I was expecting.  He is also hilarious.  David was making faces at me during my coverage on one of my scenes.  He was giving me funny faces the whole time, with no remorse.  So that was fun.  That was during my first episode.

What movies or TV shows have you watch as a part of your research?
GRANT: I haven’t watched the John Wesley Shipp series yet from the ’90s, just because I wanted to get going and kind of create my own Barry before I watched that.  And there really isn’t anything too much else to watch.  There’s the comics, and there’s some, like, “Flashpoint Paradox” and some cartoon versions.  And I’ve checked those out because that’s not an actor portraying it.  So it’s a little different.  But there’s not that much material to watch.  That’s what’s so exciting about this, is there’s nothing like this, what we’re about to create.  So it makes it even more exciting.

Speaking of watching TV shows, do you like to watch them afterwards after they’ve come out or catch up with shows maybe on DVD or Blu‑ray?
GRANT:  Yeah, I binge‑watch for sure. Right now I’m watching SCANDAL as it’s happening live.  But most shows, like, I wait and watch at least, like, three in a row on iTunes or Netflix.

What is the advantage of being able to do that?
GRANT:  I think that it’s just easier.  I just get ADD.  So much happens in seven days between episodes.  So it’s easier, I think, for me to follow the story, follow the characters, watch it like that.

If you had a superhero skill, what would it be?
GRANT:  I’ve always said if I had a superhero skill ‑‑ this sounds so cheesy and stupid — but it would be to heal, like, anybody for of anything.  And flying would be cool.  I’ve always wanted to fly.  Maybe one day.

ARROW airs Wednesday nights at 8:00 p.m. on the CW and look for THE FLASH, hopefully, in Fall 2014.

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Grant Gustin
Grant Gustin
Grant Gustin
Grant Gustin
Grant Gustin
Grant Gustin

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