‘Legends of Tomorrow’: Shayan Sobhian on Behrad & Astra, Birthdays and…Jack Black?
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Legends of Tomorrow Season 6 Episode 9 “This is Gus,” so if you haven’t watched yet, go pop an edible and come back when you’ve caught up!]
Birthdays, fandoms, and a Beebo-ish visitor brought the fun this week when the Waverider crew headed to, of all places, Vancouver (where the show actually shoots). Centered on birthday-boy from the future Behrad (Shayan Sobhian), the hour saw the newly returned Sara (Caity Lotz) and company traveling to British Columbia to track an alien named Gus-Gus, who wound up crashing into the soundstage where Behrad’s favorite childhood TV—stoner sitcom Bud-Stuy—just so happened to film.
Needless to say, Legends-caliber chaos ensued as Gus’ sudden debut in front of a live studio audience inspired the show’s creator to pass off the alien as a new character. This change to the show that made Behrad the man he is today caused a rippled effect in him as well, leading to a few personality upgrades that definitely caught the eye of Astra (Olivia Swann)…and concerned his sister Zari (Tala Ashe). It also allowed for viewers to get some more insight into the once-deceased character who was spring upon us at the end of Season 5 after the Heyworld events restored him from his erased timeline while replacing the activist Zari we knew (and Nate loved) with the Kardashian-Influencer version currently canoodling with Constantine (Matt Ryan).
Here, the actor shares what it was like to get to fill in some of the blanks and how he sees Behrad’s journey going forward.
This is so cool, you finally get an episode all about Behrad this season!
Shayan Sobhian: Yeah. Yeah, that is. I think this season, the writers have gotten very creative about how can we flesh out some of these newer characters and give the audience a chance to really sink their teeth into the backstory. For me, I had the unenviable task of coming into the show and acting as if I’d been there the whole time, so it almost didn’t make sense to give me any backstory because that would belie what they were trying to do. But now with this episode, it’s sort of like Behrad’s origin story.
One thing that really stuck out as soon as I saw it was how Behrad says his love for Bud-Sty is because it was the first time he saw himself on screen. When was the first time you saw yourself on screen?
Right. Now, don’t laugh, but this is the God’s honest truth: Jack Black in School of Rock. [Laughs] Yeah. I thought about this for a long time because I had a feeling this was going to come up. I was nine years old and Elf was sold out at the theaters, but my grandma still wanted to take me and my brother to see a movie, so then we went to see School of Rock. Just watching the passion that Jack Black brought to the character and to music—I was also a musical kid, always singing, always playing air guitar. So just seeing that, I was like, “That’s what I want to do.”
That ignited my entire artistic self. That led me into music, which then led me into acting, and then, here I am! It’s also why I’ve loved getting to play music this season, as well. It’s brought a whole other side of me to a character.
That’s incredible. Everyone knows the show shoots in Vancouver, so it’s such a fun inside joke that the team heads there to visit a taping of Bud-Sty. Did you guys film it on your own stages?
We actually did, yeah. It was so funny to see the location on our call sheet as just our stage. But it allowed us to get super-meta, which is a comfort zone for Legends. So yeah, that was a lot of fun.
And they’re obviously having a ton of fun with the Astra stuff.
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Astra is just the perfect — there’s no better way to describe it — she’s like a yin to Behrad’s yang. I think there’s just so much opportunity there for [us]… They outwardly will jab at each other, but then inwardly, behind closed doors, there can be some steamy chemistry.
I feel like in a way, Behrad is the guy someone like Astra would go for to disappoint her parents.
[Laughs] Totally. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah! Exactly. And he daydreams about her in a wedding dress. I think Behrad’s super-romantic and I’m just so excited for that to potentially be explored this year.
What will this episode do for him as far as maybe triggering a little bit of an evolution? Is he ready to maybe put down the edibles and get a little bit more serious?
Well, yeah. For him, I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I think that’s kind of his thing. He’s like, “If I can remain chill and Zen, that’s my role on the Waverider.” He is an emotion peacekeeper in a lot of ways. I think, too, you’ll see in the episode that the edibles are such a part of who he is, and I know that can sound almost superficial, but it’s not. It’s his way of being himself and finding himself. I think he’s still on that journey. I don’t think he’s necessarily ready to “grow up.”
How was it getting to film basically with Tala as Zari 1.0 again?
Yeah. It was still such a brief moment. We had a lot of it at the end of Season 5, which was awesome. Those scenes were really, really great. Then this one, in this episode, it feels that it was more about 1.0 in Nate’s journey, but it was still great just to have that moment where I see her and react to her presence.
It seems like she’s sticking around for a couple of episodes, the way it was left.
Yeah. Yeah. They worked around some totem loopholes, as it were.
And in the montage of his birthday gifts, were there any personal touches or cultural nods?
No, that didn’t actually end up happening. They were less cultural-based, more personality-based, if that makes sense. They did get a cookbook that’s actually James Hemings, who I didn’t know, but then I researched him. He’s this incredible Black French chef who did write a cookbook. Other than that, it was a cool nod to a chef of color back in the day. That’s something I actually share with Behrad is I love to cook. I love to cook, so that was just fun. Then I got my little chef’s hat, which apparently … Do you know what the 100 ridges of a chef’s hat mean?
I didn’t even know there were 100 ridges in it!
There’s 100 ridges and they signify the 100 ways to prepare an egg. Apparently, there’s 100 ways according to the French.
Wow. I wonder if raw counts.
Probably. The Rocky way…that should be number one. That’s the starting place!
Since the episode is all based on Behrad’s birthday, how do you usually celebrate your birthday?
Oh, great question. Just talking to friends and family. I have this rotating list of people that I keep in close contact with and I try to hit as many of those on my birthday and then just eat some good food. And probably watch School of Rock. [Laughs]
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Sundays, 8/7c, The CW.