Tom Cavanagh Talks Throwing It Back Into Reverse for ‘The Flash’

The Flash - Tom Cavanagh
Spoiler Alert
Bettina Strauss/The CW

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Flash Season 8 Episode 19 “Negative, Part 1.” So if you haven’t watched yet, how the hell do you expect to help us save Iris?!]

The Flash pulled a fast one on us tonight!

In the first hour of their two-part season finale, we saw Still Force host Deon (Christian Magby) drain the power from villainous Eobard Thawne (Tom Cavanagh), who was being held captive in an ARGUS prison. Like, all the way down to a husk of a human. It looked like we were finally rid of the Reverse-Flash for good.

But then, in the hour’s final moments, we got the twist! While battling Deon and his Negative Speed squad, the O.G. good-guy Thawne (Matt Letscher), now loaded with Speed Force abilities from his boss Fast Track, aka Dr. Meena Dhawan (Kausar Mohammed), started to scream in agony. Before we could say “Wait, is he tearing off his face?” Thawne was tearing off his face to reveal Cavanagh’s clearly more evil Thawne underneath. It was grisly as hell and a great way to bring back the show’s original bad guy once more, especially after tragedy seemingly stuck our Iris (Candice Patton).

The Flash -Grant Gustin + Matthew Letscher + Kausar Mohammed

Colin Bentley/The CW

Here, original cast member Cavanagh sort of explains what is happening and looks back on the myriad roles he has filled since The Flash hit the ground eight years ago.

So…they really have found about 25 different ways to use you now on this show.

Tom Cavanagh: Sure. As they should [Laughs]

You’ve gotten to play pretty much everything possible.

Kind of feels that way, yeah. Our costume designer, Kate Main…her parting gift to the cast and crew was a wardrobe hanger of all the major suits that appeared on the show, which is just so evocative and so beautiful. And one thing that she gave me was a framed picture called “Wells of Inspiration” where she basically put all the characters I have played to date — I’m looking at it in my office right now — on The Flash, all grouped together, just kind of hanging out.

The Flash - Tom Cavanagh

Bettina Strauss/The CW

The crazy thing is, so many of the characters you’ve played have been deeply important to the show, who have actually helped the other characters develop. The work you did with Carlos Valdes really helped Cisco develop.

That was one of the true pleasures, working with a talented actor like that and discovering what the bond is. And each one of them had some form of bond with Cisco, be it good, good or bad. It was just a delight to play.

Watching the episode, it was odd to me that they had you doing press for the episode, because it seemed like your Thawne was dead-dead early on. And then we get this final scene twist… is this setting you up to maybe close out the series next season as the Big Bad?

I don’t know that the series is gonna close out next year and just from conversations with Greg Berlanti over the years, like you sort of wanna reserve the Joker-Batman thing for actual finale, right? And I think we were sort of aiming that way this year because I think it looked like Grant [Gustin] might go. Of course now, I think it’s public knowledge that he’s not, but I think we had to pivot a little bit and the writer’s room did a jolly good job with the storylines in this season. That being said, I haven’t heard from anyone that next season is the last season but if that does wind up being the case, then you kind of have to keep Flash-vs-Reverse Flash arrow in the quiver, right? So that’s a roundabout way of not trying to spoil what happens next season. [Laughs]

I get it. Now, I’m assuming to get to cause a ton of hell in the second half of this finale?

Listen, you know, I have it in my contract that if I’m not blowing up at least half of Central City, I’m not coming in. So make of that what you will. [Laughs]

And the way, the poor citizens of Central City have got to be like, “Why are we always collateral damage to this guy? Why is he so cross?” It’s like the people in Hawkins on Stranger Things. Why don’t you move elsewhere? I don’t see that this town has a lot of stuff that other towns don’t have, so maybe go move like, 10 miles east! [Laughs]

Honestly. Jitters should be under constant construction.

Yeah. “I’m gonna go pick up a coffee.” “Where are you going, Starbucks?” “No, Jitters.” Whyyyyyyy?!

I would also love to know how many TV screens they have ruined because someone is always running into or being thrown at a flatscreen.

Yes, you’re so right! That is so great. That is so great. You go to Props and they’re like, “Hey what do you need? Broken or ready to go? Ready to break? Gotcha!” [Laughs]

So what is Reverse-Flash’s motivation this time? Is he just still trying to kill Barry? Like, is that his thing?

Have you read Moby Dick? [Laughs] Listen, when a guy has a white whale out there, he’s not gonna settle. And there’s more to it and I won’t give it away, but that is what it seems to be in broad strokes, you know?  Thank you, Herman Melville.

And I just learned that you’re also going to be directing the season premiere of Superman & Lois.

Yeah. I was doing the finale of The Flash and it was like, “All right, well what else is available?” And they were asking about the premiere and I mean, that show has the advantage of the anamorphic lenses and that visual richness. So for a director, it’s just such a joy to go there and have those tools at your disposal. And that’s just the technical side, not even mentioning the tremendous cast and crew, and joy with which they kind of tackle their stories. So, yeah I’m really looking forward to jumping back in the seat to do their premiere.

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