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The Flash is headed to the past — well, the very recent past.
The CW’s Arrow spinoff is about to introduce former S.T.A.R. Labs mechanic Ronnie Raymond in Tuesday’s episode, who — as a result of the same particle accelerator explosion that turned Barry Allen into The Flash — becomes half of the powerful dual identity Firestorm (the other half is played by Victor Garber). With Ronnie’s fiancee and S.T.A.R. Labs employee Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) coming to terms with the possibility that her true love may have perished in the accident, things in Central City are going to heat up when she and the others unexpectedly face one fiery foe in Firestorm.
Robbie Amell, who plays Ronnie Raymond, talks to The Hollywood Reporter about his introduction to Central City in Tuesday’s episode, how The Tomorrow People prepared him and offers a preview of the dangerous Firestorm.
How familiar were you with the character of Ronnie Raymond/Firestorm before you began?
I wasn’t. I knew of him and I knew a little, but I hadn’t been a huge Firestorm fan. But I’m actually kind of glad that it happened that way because I got to be introduced to a new superhero. I got a care package from DC with a couple comics and a couple action figures. My mom went out to a comic book store and bought out every Firestorm piece of merchandise they had, and I dove head-first into the universe. I think I’m going to do something that Firestorm fans will like.
When you first appear on The Flash, it’s the night of the particle accelerator explosion. How did you establish Ronnie and Caitlin’s romance in a short period of time?
I hadn’t seen the pilot [when I filmed that episode], but I’m glad I hadn’t since the flashbacks happen at the same time as the pilot. I got to walk into it as completely blank slate. We shot the celebratory scene first, which was great; it’s always exciting coming into a new project. It actually had a lot of the same crew, about 70 percent, with The Tomorrow People moved over [to The Flash]. Trying to establish a relationship with Danielle’s character Caitlin in a short period of time ended up going well because we had mutual friends and we sat down and talked for a while before we shot anything. I’ve only seen a couple clips; I’m excited to watch the episode tomorrow night. I’ve become a big fan of the show.
Might we see Ronnie/Firestorm in the present day soon?
You meet Ronnie Raymond tomorrow [in “Fastest Man Alive”] and then in December, you meet Firestorm. It’ll take a minute before Firestorm turns back into Ronnie because when they find him in December, my character is really going through some stuff. He’s schizophrenic, doesn’t know what’s happening, he’s confused and dangerous to the people around him. You may not see Ronnie Raymond for a little while, but you’ll see Firestorm.
It sounds like Firestorm is a big departure from Ronnie.
It’s a huge difference. People will barely recognize him in December, but they’ll know it’s him when the fire bursts in the hands and the fire bursts in the head. The particle accelerator almost killed Ronnie and the fallout from it will definitely be seen in December.
How do you think the reunion between Ronnie and Caitlin will go over when that happens?
The relationship between the two of them is definitely [a question]. It’s tough because when Firestorm comes back, it should be this great reunion but Firestorm is so far removed from Ronnie Raymond that it’s not quite the reunion people will be hoping for.
Victor Garber is playing the other half of Firestorm.
It’s the best! It’s so awesome! I worked with Victor Garber on a TV movie a couple years ago and he was awesome. He’s so freakin’ talented and it doesn’t hurt that my fiancee [actress Italia Ricci] is the biggest Titanic fan I’ve ever met. She’s more excited about me working with Victor Garber than anything else. I gotta start watching Alias and start working on my Victor Garber impression. Sometimes Firestorm is Ronnie and sometimes he’s Martin Stein, but physically it’s going to be my body. I’m just excited to work opposite him because, I mean, he’s Victor Garber. The fact that I get to share a character with this guy is going to be really fun.
Are you going to use any tricks from Tomorrow People, which had telekinesis and telepathy as part of its DNA, to play Firestorm?
Yeah. The telekinesis [on Tomorrow People] is really similar to my shooting nuclear energy out of my hands and some other powers, which I can’t give away. One of them is really badass and that’ll be revealed in one of my episodes in December. They’re not holding anything back. Firestorm is very powerful and it definitely helps to have been shooting a sci-fi show leading into this.
Is there more to the relationship between Dr. Harrison Wells and Ronnie Raymond other than the S.T.A.R. Labs employer-employee connection?
So far from what I’ve seen, Ronnie’s the mechanic at S.T.A.R. Labs. He’s the hands-on guy, and since Wells is the man at S.T.A.R. Labs, he’s the head scientist/head honcho, I think it’s strictly just Ronnie does what he’s told and doesn’t really second-guess it. Wells has everybody fooled at this point.
Do you think Firestorm is going to be one of Barry Allen/The Flash’s toughest tests?
From the amount of powers they’ve given him, he’s going to be a difficult foe for anyone to go up against.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
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