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Brown is no stranger to the comic-book universe, having voiced several DC villains in various animated TV series, most notably Lex Luthor. Brown will venture into the live-action space when he enters Central City as the powerful and ruthless General Wade Eiling, the head of a black ops army team pursuing Plastique (Kelly Frye) in hopes of turning her into a human weapon.
“He came out of the post-Vietnam suspicion of the military, so he was never really a good guy,” Brown tells The Hollywood Reporter ahead of his Flash debut (General Eiling first appeared in comic form in 1987). “He was a representative of the man, of the status quo, and that was under major assault at that point in time. [The military] wasn’t respected the way it is now, which makes him an interesting character to play.”
It wasn’t lost on Brown, a beloved character actor who provided the voice for Paralax in Greg Berlanti’s 2011 feature Green Lantern, that his introduction fell on Veterans Day — an observation he would continuously bring up during the interview. “There’s not the same skepticism about their role in society. I think it’s healthy to reintroduce that, especially in this day and age, because it’s a powerful institution,” he says.
Brown still isn’t fully aware of General Eiling’s true motives behind building a human army; instead used the comics as potential clues for where his alter ego may be headed. “It was simply that sort of power-mad, bad-guy, fascist, Nazi military crap that was going on back in the day. Now it’s a little different,” he says, citing recent threats such as ISIS and Ebola.
To better familiarize himself with the world in which General Eiling may be immersed, Brown also turned to American Heroes Channel’s Future Weapons, a program that explores how technology can enhance a soldier. “They can basically put on suits that can give them superpowers. They can put on clothes that make them bulletproof. There’s all sorts of crazy tech that emulates a lot of the superhero stuff,” he says. “Eiling now, in terms of what he’s doing, I think that’s being done already. There are already people dedicated in the army R&D divisions to making super-soldiers.”
One Flash character General Eiling has a deep history with is the mysterious STAR Labs head Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). “It’s the military-industrial complex,” says Brown, who mainly interacted with Cavanagh and Frye. “Somebody like Wells, who’s doing cutting-edge physics experiments and built a secret particle accelerator in a metropolitan city, you don’t do that without the military knowing about that and giving their blessing. They know of each other and they probably worked together a lot back in the day. If you’re a dedicated scientist [like Wells], you’ve got to make that deal with the devil to do theoretical physics, I guess. Makes you wonder.”
Admittedly, Brown wasn’t an avid reader of The Flash comics when he was younger, though he read others. “I didn’t really get The Flash; I didn’t really like the suit,” Brown says with a laugh. “But this iteration is much better. Even the initial concept was really cool — the pseudo-science of it. Plus Grant [Gustin] is great in it, and quirky.”
The Flash airs 8 p.m. Tuesdays on The CW.
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