Talk about catching lightning in a bottle--literally! Grant Gustin is about to take on the role of a lifetime starring as Barry Allen aka The Flash on The CW's new Tuesday night show. He's carrying the weight of playing one of DC's most legendary superheroes with charm and grace.
Recently Grant was given a break from the grueling production schedule and came through the DC offices. We were lucky enough to have a few minutes to talk to him about working with some TV veterans, anchoring a hot new TV show, and how he's holding up.
Are you exhausted?
I am. But I’m exhausted all the time so I’m kind of used to it. And I feel normal now. Kind of.
How’s it going up there in Vancouver?
Really well. We’re already on episode 9. We already shot the big crossover episodes. That was a big hump to get over. And now we’re over it for the most part. So soon we’ll be on to the second half of the season, hopefully.
How’s it feel holding down the show? You’re the star. You’re The Flash.
Yeah. It’s crazy. I don’t think that part has really – I don’t think that’s ever going to set in, actually. Because, I am The Flash—whatever. Number 1 on the call sheet, it’s really cool. It’s really exciting. But everyone’s pulling their weight. Everyone’s doing their work. And everyone… when I’m shooting scenes, we’re all equally involved. It’s a big team effort. Right now, what’s nice about it is, it’s me, but if you don’t know me as an actor, you don’t see that and recognize me necessarily which his kind of cool. I mean, it’s The Flash and I’m the face of the show, but The Flash is really the face of the show. So I don’t really feel that pressure, “like it’s my show, I better do it right.” We’re all working on it. We’re all having a good time. We’re all excited about it.
Now Tom (Harrison Wells) Cavanaugh, who you work with, was in a similar situation. Early in his career, the star of his own show, Ed. Does he have any advice for you?
Yeah. We’ve talked a lot. His experience is going to be a lot different than my experience with this, though. I also got to talk to John Wesley Shipp about his experience [on the 1990 version of The Flash]. And we had Wentworth Miller who had his own show. I’ve got to talk to a lot of people who’ve given me really good advice. Mostly practical advice, like get your sleep and know when to say no to things that interfere with work and put the work first and stuff that I kind of naturally want to do anyway.
Still talking about the veterans. You and Jesse Martin have stage backgrounds. He was in Rent. You guys ever jam on showtunes?
Yeah. We talk about stuff like that all the time. It just naturally comes up. Theater people! People don’t know tap and they want to learn from me and Jesse. So it’s fun. Everyone just really enjoys each other.
Let’s talk about Masks for a second. One of the things I thought was really impressive about the show is that when you put on the mask you become a different character.
You look different!
I feel a lot different. I don’t know. I didn’t really expect Barry and Flash to be so different. Like I really get caught up in the moment when I’m in the suit and I think Barry would and does, too! Barry gets really caught up in the moment of being the Flash and saving the day. It’s something that he’s really never gotten to do before and right now he’s having a lot of joy in being able to help people, protect people; and be this person that he never thought he would get to be so I think that’s part of it.
It’s ever-growing though. I mean, every episode they’re morphing together more and more. Flash is becoming a little more human and Barry is becoming a little more stronger by the day. I don’t know if they’re ever going to meet somewhere in the middle, but they are slowly meshing into one.
Obviously there are a lot of special effects, but there’s no doubt you’re putting in a lot of physical effort on this show. You do a lot of running. You’ve got to do a lot of athletic stuff. You were probably in good shape before, but are you in better shape now? Are you training? How do you train to be The Flash?
Oof! I did a lot of training before I went to Vancouver to do the pilot. I trained for 3 or 4 months. I’ve always been really thin and I wanted to put on at least a little weight. And I did put on some weight before I shot the pilot. And I knew it would be hard for me to maintain too much weight with my body type on this film schedule. So I kind of plateaued at a certain point on purpose because I work 12 hours a day on average and I knew on top of that I wouldn’t be able to get in the type of workout I’d need to maintain that size. So I run a lot. I do a lot of pull ups and pushups while I’m at work. I run a lot for the job. I’m on a treadmill in front of a green-screen—harnessed. And it’s 10 to 14 hour days for me every single day. I haven’t had a camera day off yet. So that schedule keeps you in shape, too.
Do you track your calorie count on this?
No, thankfully I don’t have to do that. Even with what Stephen Amell does, what he has to put himself through, I just don’t have to do that. Because they want me lean for this version of the Flash. I’m going to be lean. It makes sense.
With @grantgust, you seem to have a great handle on social media.
I was on social media long before this. Way before. And I’ve always enjoyed it. At times now because of this and because of Glee and the spotlight and whatever it scares me at times and I think I’m going to get off of it. But then always at the end of the day I’m going to do Twitter the way I want to do Twitter. I’m not going to let anybody bully me out of Twitter or try to make me do Twitter the way I don’t want to do it. I had it before any of this. It’s my Twitter. I enjoy it. I like being able to reach out to fans that want to hear from me. I’m not going to let anyone ruin Twitter for me. I enjoy it.
So what are we going to look forward to this season? What’s your arc?
Well, the big arc is Barry is trying to prove his father’s innocence and get him out of prison and catch who really killed his mom. That’s his main goal—that’s the main arc of the season. But also we’re developing our cast of regulars. ‘Cause in the pilot it’s a lot of Barry and gave kind of a bland shape to some of the characters. So we’re going places right out of the gate and developing everyone that’s on the show. And we’re getting new bad guys pretty much, I think, every episode so far—all 9 episodes there’s a new villain from the rogues’ gallery. And they’re giving them origin stories that have never existed or they’re kind of brand new ideas that are creating a pretty close depiction of this rogues that have been in the comics.
You mentioned John Wesley Shipp. Also played The Flash. You guys ever compare notes?
Yeah! John did this character, this show, at a much harder time, I think. I think my suit’s uncomfortable? His suit was uncomfortable. He used to have to take off his gloves and pour out the sweat, and it would pour out in buckets. I mean, he couldn’t sit. They talked about doing this for me but eventually softened the leather and made it a two piece. It was a 1 piece when I did the pilot. But they broke it down and made the suit a lot better. When he was in it, they had to get a board for him so that he could lean against it—like what they would do in old time movies—because he couldn’t sit in his suit.
And ComicCon back then, he was telling us that his panel was like 45 minutes long. 40 people were there. He went downstairs and signed some autographs. And it was over. That’s not what our ComicCon was. So our experiences are just going to be really, really different.