In the small screen world of The Flash, Oliver Queen gives the Flash his name, a fateful bolt of lightning is responsible for his powers, but his iconic suit is the brainchild of one enthusiastic lab tech—Cisco Ramon. On a show with no shortage of colorful, uniquely memorable characters, Cisco stands out due to his sense of humor and youthful enthusiasm, qualities he seems to share with Carlos Valdes, the actor who embodies him.
Recently, we had the chance to speak with Carlos about the show and the part he plays in it—a role that holds the promise of even greater heroics as the series goes on.
Cisco Ramon is a character that some of our fans may be familiar with, but I’m curious about your take on the guy. How would you describe Cisco?
He’s a mechanical engineering genius who works at S.T.A.R. Labs, but I think what makes him special is that he’s really passionate about what he does. He’s also very young, and I think that youth sort of defines him. He has this wide-eyed quality about him where he becomes enraptured in anything that happens that’s out of the ordinary. He puts stock in extraordinary things, especially after Barry Allen comes into his life and he sees the impossible. As a comic book fanboy, Cisco geeks out over the impossible and becomes enveloped in it. It’s just the coolest thing that’s ever happened to him, and the most important thing that’s ever happened to him.
Cisco designed Barry’s suit on the show. What did you think the first time you saw Grant in it?
I was awestruck, to be honest. Super hero suits are a tricky thing. You’re trying to balance out an inherently sort of flamboyant idea, which is essentially a super hero wearing state-of-the-art technology spandex. It’s kind of tough to predict how these things will turn out, but as soon as I saw the picture of Grant in the suit, I developed so much faith in this project. I said, “Yeah, we’re doing this right. We’re definitely doing this right.”
It also imbued my understanding of Cisco with more confidence because clearly, from the suit, he knows what he’s talking about and he knows how to make it look stylish.
How familiar were you with the world of the Flash before you got the role? Were you a fan beforehand, or is this all pretty new to you?
I was aware of the Flash peripherally, as most people are with Superman or Batman. You understand the basics of the mythology; that this man was given these powers through this crazy circumstance and now he has super speed, he can manipulate time and whatnot. That’s pretty much all I knew. But then, as soon as I learned more about the project that I was auditioning for, I immediately immersed myself in the world of the comic books. I learned all about The New 52 and Geoff Johns’ involvement and the Vibe series. Oh my gosh, I’m in love it. So I was very happy to have this project come along and introduce me to the world of comic books, specifically DC Comics. That was very exciting for me.
Now, in the comics, Cisco becomes the super hero known as Vibe. Any idea when they might be…ahem, shaking up the status quo for you? (See what I did there?)
I can’t say for sure. That’s kind of up in the air. I think one of the great things about this show is that we have the luxury of being able to figure out where these characters are going and fleshing out their back stories. I think part of the appeal of Arrow and of The Flash is that we can take the time to really craft a launching pad for the super hero mythology for all of these characters. Even though we know that Caitlin Snow becomes Killer Frost and Cisco Ramon will potentially become Vibe, that’s not really our concern right now. Our concern is giving life to these characters and giving them an independent storyline before these super powers, so that if and when these personalities are imbued with these powers, it means that much more. It carries a completely different significance because of that back story. So right now, I’m just focusing on exploring Cisco Ramon as a person.
Cisco works at S.T.A.R. Labs and he’s very much a tech geek. Which member of the Flash cast is probably the biggest geek in real life?
[laughs] Oh man, what a question. That’s a great question. I could put some people on the spot right now!
Actually, I’m going to have to say me. I am the geekiest of the bunch. For sure. I think Grant might be a close second. Actually, Jesse might be second. You know, really, it depends. We’re all geeky in our own ways with regards to the things that we love. I think that’s what makes our cast really strong. We’re all secret geeks pretending to be TV star super heroes.
Most super heroes seem to have their weakness, their Kryptonite. If you were a super hero, what would be your weakness?
Oh man! Okay, I think weakness would have to be, most definitely, cheese.
Okay... Why cheese?
Cheese is just so tantalizing! Oh my gosh. It’s such a temptation for me. There are so many different types of cheeses that just, ah, taste so good and that seem so appetizing in theory. But I KNOW that once I bite into that cheese, some of that natural lactose intolerance that’s going on in my body… It’s just not going to happen. It’s going to be bad.
The original version of Vibe was actually a breakdancer. I’m curious. How are your dancing skills? And can we expect to see any Cisco Ramon dance offs on the show?
I’m not going to lie. There was a comment made at a certain point [between Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg and I] about maybe having Cisco bring out some breakdance moves. I can’t speak as to whether that will actually be a part of the series at any point, but I will say this. I can do a mean worm. I can do the worm, and I can do it well!