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[WARNING: Spoilers from The Flash pilot, which was screened at Comic-Con in July.]
The Flash star Grant Gustin isn’t letting expectations get the best of him.
The 24-year-old Virginia native was admittedly “surprised” when he got the call that he would be The CW’s Barry Allen. “I let myself feel the pressure a little bit because I wanted to live up to The Flash and make the fans happy,” Gustin, a self-proclaimed Superman fan, tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Known primarily for his Glee arc as disdained Dalton Warbler Sebastian Smythe, Gustin had reservations diving headfirst into an iconic character with deep DC roots. “My Glee experience taught me — to a certain degree — not to listen too much to fan backlash, at least to negative things. Once you have the job, you have the job and you’ve got to do it,” he says.
An active tweeter and regular reader of fan comments, Gustin is confident the auspices behind The Flash — pilot director David Nutter (Gustin calls him “the pilot whisperer”) and executive producers Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg — will continue to mine the rich comic lore. Already they’ve secured Robbie Amell as half of Firestorm, Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold and Clancy Brown as The General.
“If it had been a team of people that didn’t know what they were doing, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this role because they would have just cast a blonde guy who was buff,” he postulates. “They were looking for somebody who encompassed the heart of Barry Allen and at first, I didn’t realize I did. Now that I’ve explored the character, the comics, read the scripts and talked to [the producers], I understand why I got this role.”
“It will probably forever be my favorite character that I’ll ever get to play,” Gustin declares. It’s a tall statement for a young actor to make so early in his career. And Gustin may not be wrong. The Flash pilot dazzled in its first public screenings at San Diego’s Comic-Con, where the Hall H crowd was enthused by its ambitious special effects, particularly during the climactic battle.
Arrow viewers have already gotten a peek at Gustin’s Barry Allen, introduced last fall as a geekier, less cynical counterpart to Stephen Amell‘s Oliver Queen. The Flash, like Arrow, charts “the early days” of an unlikely journey to hero. But for Barry, who transforms into The Flash by the end of the first episode, the evolution may be accelerated. “By the end of the year, he will come to resemble The Flash that we know from the comic books,” promises Kreisberg.
Also at the center of The Flash is a burgeoning love triangle with Barry on the outside looking in as charming Central City Detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) and Barry’s childhood best friend Iris West (Candice Patton) start dating.
“Barry doesn’t have many friends. Iris is definitely one of the only people who knows everything about Barry — well, she did up until the [particle accelerator] accident,” Gustin says. “After the accident, Barry really wants to tell her how he feels. When he sees that she’s with Eddie, it makes it clearer to Barry how he feels because of how it makes him feel to see her with somebody else.”
But don’t expect Barry’s romantic conflicts to take over his primary task at hand: keeping Central City safe. “He wants to save the day. He wants to be a hero. He wants to prevent any child from going through what he went through, so he’s going to put that on his priority list before his love life,” Gustin says. “He’s not going to get in the middle of anything Iris has going and break her and Eddie up. He’s going to watch from the outside for now and hold off on telling her.”
Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) drop-by in episode four “does complicate things for Barry,” he hints. “We left their relationship on a weird note [on Arrow], but she’s also in a weird predicament with Oliver where she clearly loves him. Barry and Felicity clearly have a lot in common but I don’t know that any of those relationships are going to work out. At the same time, it’s not something he can worry himself with too much right now.”
Flashbacks will continue throughout the run of the series, particularly in the second and third episodes, where significant attention will be paid to the early days of Barry, Iris and Joe, and Barry and his father Henry (John Wesley Shipp).
The juiciest moment from the first episode comes in the final seconds, revealing the mysterious Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) to be harboring a big secret and hinting at the fate of The Flash. As Gustin hints, questions raised in the final moments remain an ongoing mystery.
“We’re going to slowly find out more about Harrison Wells and what the hell is going on there,” he says. “What the coolest thing about that moment, to me, is they’re setting up the fact that the Flashpoint story line [from the comics] could potentially happen — that Speed Force could be an aspect and time travel is potentially a part of the show.”
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