‘The Flash’: Carlos Valdes Looks Back on His Run and ‘Earned’ Goodbye as Cisco

The Flash + Carlos Valdes
Q&A
Bettina Strauss/The CW

Cisco Ramon has left the chat.

In the June 8 episode of The Flash, O.G. cast member Carlos Valdes took his leave as Cisco and Kamilla (Victoria Park) announced to the S.T.A.R. Labs crew that they were off to greener pastures. She to San Francisco for an art gallery situation, he to a gig with ARGUS in Star City (where Kamilla will join him once she’s finished on the coast). Initially met with a show of support that almost felt detached, it soon became clear that Team Flash was, in fact, not having a good time getting their heads around Ciscos’s exit.

Same could be said for fans of Valdes, who has been an absolute delight since Day 1. Introduced as a mechanical engineer at S.T.A.R. Labs and the bestie of Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), Valdes’ Cisco soon became an integral part of the action, helping Barry (Grant Gustin) acclimate to his post-particle accelerator abilities, assuming the meta-human role of Vibe for a spell, exchanging perfect banter with Tom Cavanagh‘s many Harrison Wellses (Wellii?) and even, as we learned during a few trips into the future, becoming the CEO of his own tech conglomerate before Crisis rewrote most of everything in some way (we’re still sorting through that). All along the way, he’s handed out countless nicknames, dropped even more nerdy inside jokes, broken our hearts, and most of all, just been there. For Barry, Caitlin, anyone really. Cisco is the friend we all deserve.

Here, the actor opens up about earning Cisco’s goodbye and accepting the rewards that come with being a beloved member of the family.

Well, this is a crappy assignment, really. You’re an O.G. and this is a very…I mean, it’s a lovely episode, but it’s sad to see you go.

Carlos: Yeah. Yes, it is sad, but I have to sort of find solace in the fact that it can be a sad experience and it can also be a positive one and I have to contain all of those conflicting emotions at once. And that’s probably the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do in this life.

And because of all the COVID protocols, you didn’t get just one big group goodbye scene with everybody. It was stretched out through various goodbyes you had to shoot.

[Laughs] That’s right. Yeah, I think the writers like to really, really milk a goodbye when it comes, you know what I mean?

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I liked the fact that Cisco and Kamila are moving you to Star City, which we all know is not that far away. There was a moment in this episode where I was like, “Are they going to kill him?”

I know. I thought about that too. I like a fake-out like that. It’s so funny to me that this big departure, there’s so much ado about this decision and really what ended up happening is he just moves across the street. There’s a part of me, a very sadistic part of me, that wondered what it would be like if Cisco just was killed off. [Laughs]

When did you come to this decision?

Well, it was a mutual decision. The seed for leaving the show was kind of always there because it was just such a stark lifestyle change for me to go from being a theater actor in New York to being employed on a multi-year contract, working on a TV show in Vancouver, working nine and a half months out of the year. It was a little intense.

And so, there was always that doubt in the back of my mind as to whether I could make this work. Obviously, being the child of an immigrant, my whole experience was like, “You know what? You make it work.” And you go and you hustle and you make it work. And I think I reached a point, as I think many people in our culture are at this moment, where I realized I have power in this situation where I can choose to make the circumstance work for me. The more that time went on, the more comfortable I felt with the idea of stepping away and Cisco having an earned goodbye.

The Flash + Carlos Valdes + Danielle Panabaker

Bettina Strauss/The CW

And it is. It’s an earned goodbye…you even got a goodbye montage, which a lot of people don’t get.

[Laughs] I know, I almost feel…uncomfortable. I’m not great at taking compliments as a person and there’s a lot of love being showered in this episode for Cisco and his departure. But I think that what’s made it easier, not just for Cisco, but for me as an actor as well, has been how interestingly [showrunner] Eric Wallace has weaved in these newer characters like Chester and Allegra, the newer members of the team, because I think for Cisco, leaving his role within the team is a decision that’s reached in a much easier fashion because he knows it’s left in good hands. And obviously, as these recent episodes have showcased, Chester’s hands are more than capable because he is arguably more skilled than Cisco at some things. [Laughs]

How were your final days on set?

It was a while ago that we shot it and it was weird. It was weird as hell, honestly. Because, as I mentioned before, I’m not great at taking compliments. I don’t like the ado, I don’t like the celebration, the applause, the wrap speech, and all that. That makes me uncomfortable. I just say the lines that are on the page. So there was a lot of love being thrown my way and that was an interesting challenge…but ultimately a very rewarding experience to realize that there is a lot of love for this character around the world. It was very humbling.

The Arrowverse has always been good about leaving the door open…

Well, who knows? There’s a lot of things up in the air right now. I think Eric has his vision for where he wants the show to go from here. I have my vision sort for where I want to start devoting my time and energies, like what kind of projects I’m going to start devoting my energies into, so whether those halves align is a complete mystery at this moment.

The Flash + Carlos Valdes + Grant Gustin + Brandon McKnight

Bettina Strauss/The CW

In the episode when you’re taking Chester through the stuff in the room, there’s the line about your box of Comic-Con threads? How close to reality is that?

It’s funny. Comic-Con is the perfect place to rock a graphic tee, some kind of pop-culture statement. And it sucks because at virtually every Comic-Con that we’ve done, that’s been my impulse. That’s been my urge. To be like, I just want to rock out, just kind of be fun, have it be low pressure, low stakes, have a good time over in San Diego. I would just put on a graphic tee, but then I’m like, “I’m just going to look like Cisco.” I can’t be going to these events just looking like my character! [Laughs]

You can’t cosplay yourself.

Exactly. That’s exactly right. That’s such a great way of putting it. I think playing this character has permanently ruined graphic tees for me. I don’t think I can ever wear a graphic tee ever again in my life, unfortunately.

 

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Katie Yu/The CW

Since this is running after the episode…how much of that was Grant break dancing?

Like zero. [Laughs] He’s a good dancer, a very capable dancer, so there was some [footage], some connective tissue in there, but no, for the most part, it was [a double] who was so good. Just phenomenal.

And the Lady Gaga karaoke, is this something that you guys have done in the past in real life?

No, this is definitely not something that we’ve done in real life, but it kind of felt right. I was actually a little nervous about it because karaoke doesn’t just make Danielle uncomfortable, it also makes me uncomfortable. I understand the appeal of karaoke, but I come from a community of actors who, as I’m sure you know, are very emotionally unstable people who have tons of insecurity and baggage and overcompensation. And they use their art and their vocal abilities and their acting abilities to overcompensate for those kinds of things. So you fill a room with a bunch of singers or a bunch of actors—which are most of my friends—and karaoke is not fun, Damian. It’s not fun. It’s really just an ego parade.

And I’m a singer. This is something that I do professionally and even just me being in a room with non-singer friends, I’m like, “I can’t be here. This isn’t fun for me. This is just me doing free work. I’m not even getting paid for this.” But we went in there and we did it and it was fun. It actually ended up being fun.

Now that you’re gone, how are you going to continue with the Mario Kart competition?

Wait, how do you know about Mario Kart?

Oh, there was a photo of Grant walking around Vancouver in costume carrying his Nintendo Switch, and when I spoke with him at the beginning of the season, he told me about how you’re all in this little league.

It’s funny because I thought it was just going to be fun and games, like we’re just playing around. But it has really illuminated some personality profiles for me. Some people get really competitive and I did not expect to be one of these people. [Laughs] But as soon as we were done with our first Zoom hang and we’re all waving and smiling and laughing and saying goodbye, I went right back into Mario Kart and I said, “All right, I’m training. I’m training for this. This is a game, but this is not a game.” I’ve been playing hard. I’ve been rehearsing. I’ve been doing my work. I definitely don’t think that this is the end of the Mario Kart competitions.

The Flash cast at Comic-Con

The Flash cast at Comic-Con

Good. As sad as it is to see you go, it’s great to see you taking a risk and opening yourself to something new.

Thanks, Damian. I feel that way about you guys too, because y’all have been with us from jump. I don’t know, I feel like I’m kind of sharing this goodbye. You kind of have more of a sense of what this means because you’ve kind of been doing it with us.

And I plan to continue doing it and continue talking to you for whatever is next, OK?

Thanks, man.

The Flash, Tuesdays, 8/7c, The CW