Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Grant Gustin & ARROW Producers Discuss Barry Allen

It's almost time for The (soon to be) Fastest Man Alive.

Barry Allen, who becomes the DC Comics superhero The Flash, finally makes his 21st century television debut tomorrow night on the CW series Arrow.  In the episode "The Scientist," Barry arrives in Starling City to help investigate an unexplained robbery at Oliver Queen's company, Queen Consolidated.

The Hollywood Reporter and KSiteTV provided details on Barry Allen's introduction during a Q&A press conference on Monday, which included actor Grant Gustin and Arrow executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg.

Gustin was the first actor to read for Barry Allen and found the character "funny and endearing."  "I hadn't done anything like that," said Gustin.  "I had a lot of fun with that throughout the audition process.  [The producers] started steering me in that direction immediately as soon as I first met them.  They said to just have fun with it and I kind of took it from there."  Gustin also found Barry's likability appealing, which he hasn't had in his career so far. "I would be his friend," he said.  "I hadn't had the opportunity to play a character I would actually enjoy spending time with, so that's nice."

Gustin, now 23, was born in 1990, the same year The Flash television series starring John Wesley Shipp debuted on CBS.  However, Gustin claims he "wasn't trying to be any Flash that I knew about or had seen."

The subject of Gustin's youth has drawn considerable concern from some Flash fans, who feel Gustin is too young to be taken credibly as a police scientist.  "It's an elephant in the room, so we addressed it," said Kreisberg, mentioning Berlanti's suggestion that lines of dialogue should be added about Gustin's young appearance.  "The thing that was important to us was that he really should be a contrast to Oliver and to Stephen [Amell].  Stephen is the traditional square-jawed, muscle-bound hero.  That works really well, because he needs all that.  One of the things about Flash is he's a random guy who gets struck by lightning.  He needs the bolt of lightning to be a hero in a way Stephen doesn't."

Berlanti remarked that it was more important for the producers to find someone that embodied "the essence of the character" and also "someone who can fit into the Arrow universe we have, but still can potentially have the promise of their own universe and their own show."  Gustin's casting was crucial, with Berlanti adding, "Had we not found Grant, I'm not sure we would've done the character."

Barry Allen will also appear in the next episode "Three Ghosts," but it's not certain whether he will return to Arrow this season in addition to the spinoff pilot for The Flash.  "We're still trying to figure that out," said Kreisberg, mentioning that the original backdoor pilot plan created complications a normal pilot order wouldn't have.  "In some ways, this has freed us to take the Flash and just do the Flash separately and stay on a straight line."

However, Berlanti added that Barry's presence will still be felt throughout the season, but we'll find out "about what happened to him in the way that you’re hearing now about S.T.A.R. Labs on the periphery" and "in terms of Felicity, since she has a connection with him."

While Barry in helping with the investigation, he immediately bonds with Emily Bett Rickards' character Felicity Smoak, which affects how Felicity interacts with Oliver.  "Especially with the way the season has been going," said Kreisberg, "with Oliver and Felicity and their growing relationship or feelings for each other, the fact that Barry and Felicity are so similar, and they're both sort of uncomfortable in their own skins, and they're both very likable and personable, they just seem like they would instantly hit it off, which would just complicate things for Oliver even more.  It felt like the right way to go."  Rickards and Gustin apparently had a "chemistry test," which helped finalize the decision to cast Gustin.

"The Scientist" airs tomorrow night on The CW at 8 p.m. EST, with "Three Ghosts" airing the following week.

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