‘The Flash’ Star Chris Klein Digs Into the Human Side of His New Baddie Cicada

Katie Yu/The CW

Chris Klein has come a long way from Oz — his character from the American Pie movies — and Central City is feeling the heat.

As Cicada, the new big bad on The Flash‘s fifth season, the actor who made a name for himself playing hunky good-guy types has been giving Team Flash a run for their Speedster money. He’s got a crazy, power-sapping weapon and a still-unknown motive that may or may not have something to do with his actions in another timeline.

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Below, the immensely likable Klein offers TV Insider some insight on his character’s moral inventory, the steps he might actually be taking to make amends for the past, and how the pieces start coming together in this week’s episode.

Oftentimes with these villains, they’re slow burns. We learn a little about them at a time, especially since nobody on the show seems to know a lot about him either.

Chris Klein: Yes, you’ve got that exactly right. It’s a whole lot of fun because we’re just getting started here. We’re really just getting into who this guy Cicada is and what Team Flash is actually up against.

This guy is obviously anti-Meta but he’s definitely got some kind of Meta power. So is he a self-loathing Meta?

Yeah, you know, I think there definitely is a bit of pain, well, I would actually say a whole lot of pain in Orland Dwyer’s life. One of the things that is really interesting, and you hit the nail on the head, is that he is deriving his power from the implement that he wields. The dagger that allows him to dampen Meta-human’s powers, thereby making them almost equal…and then he goes ahead and has his way with them. He’s really a street brawler at heart and you see that in the vicious attacks and the fights. A lot of times, it’s with his fists that he’s doing most of his damage and not with the dagger. He uses the dagger at the beginning and at the end, kind of as a bookend to dampen their powers, but he really scraps his way in these altercations. What I think is really interesting this season is, we’ve already had two very high profile altercations with this guy. He’s torn into Team Flash pretty darn good from the get-go, so he really has them on their heels as we get into 504.

Can you at least give us a tease as to what is his gripe with them?

Yeah, you bet, man. We saw in episode 503, we know he tried to get Detective West (Jesse L. Martin) to call Vibe (Carlos Valdes), because Vibe was going to be Cicada’s next victim. And what Joe West takes note of is that he thinks Cicada may be a father. And then we see Orlin Dwyer sit next to that little girl… we’re going to learn as the season goes on who that little girl is, why she’s in a hospital bed and why Orlin cares so much. The tease there is that she is an integral part of our story moving forward and someone to keep an eye on.

Chris Klein on the red carpet (Rick Kern/WireImage)

OK, so if he has this clearly human side and such vulnerability, why is he seen as “the worst serial killer in history” as he was called last week?

Isn’t that interesting? You know, that’s a very good question. Cicada, through history, has done a lot of damage. Remember that Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) has changed the timeline. So the Cicada that Team Flash is chasing this time is a different Cicada. He definitely has a huge history of violence in other timelines. And you see he’s building a pretty big resume of violence in Season 5. And that is the question. You asked the question that we should all be asking: Why? Why is this man so angry? Why is his vendetta so big? Does Orlin, who is Cicada, see Meta-humans as a big problem in society? Are they a big problem? Is there a better way to solve this problem than how Team Flash is solving it? These are all the questions that are going to come up for us in Season 5 through the eyes of the villain, Cicada. And I think that’s very interesting because it challenges Team Flash with what they’re doing and how they’re going about their business. I think that’s very exciting because they always win. At least, up until now, they’ve always won. [Laughs]

So he could change their ways?

They’re going to have to question exactly how they’re going about business to catch a totally different villain than they’ve ever had to chase before. And we really get into that in 504. What we’re going to see this week is that the investigation is really going to start. We know after 503 that this is a different Cicada than they’ve ever chased before, and Sherloque (Tom Cavanagh) had no idea. He’s caught this guy numerous times and now he has no idea what they’re dealing with, so they really are back to square one with the investigation. And what they thought was going to be easy through the first three episodes is going to prove to be a pretty difficult catch.

Chris Klein as Cicada (Katie Yu/The CW)

Because he’s the villain, you don’t get to do a lot of the fun interaction stuff when they’re all sitting around S.T.A.R. Labs. Have you got to at least hang with them off camera?

It is two separate worlds. There’s their world where they’re chasing the villain, and then there’s the villain’s world where he’s getting chased and doing damage. They kind of exist during the day, and then the villain, especially a villain like Cicada, exists much more during the night hours. But because of our early run-ins, we have had the opportunity to be together on set a whole bunch more than what they’ve told me is typical of a villain/Team Flash relationship. So, that’s been fun. Everybody’s really welcomed me with open arms on the set, it’s a fantastic group of folks. Everybody from Todd Helbing, who runs the show, all the way down to all the crew members up here in Vancouver, British Columbia. Everybody’s been really fantastic to me and I’m just really, really excited for the opportunity to be on this show.

And I’m guessing later on in the run you’ll probably get a chance to play some humanizing moments for this character?

We do have some very, very cool things coming up where we’re going to get to learn a whole lot about Orlin Dwyer, why he is Cicada and why he is doing what he’s doing. And that’s really, really cool. Like we talked about early on in the interview, one of the really cool things about The Flash is that the villain has a reason. It would be very atypical of a villain to just be going around killing for no reason. What’s exciting is, the viewer and the fans in the audience get a chance to decide, “Is this reason enough for him to do what he’s doing?” And that’s been a real fun thing for me to question as well. That’s coming up in some future episodes. You know Cicada certainly doesn’t make it easy on them. Because of the change in the timeline and because of Cicada’s ability to dampen Meta-humans’ powers, this is a real problem. So it’s a scary time for Team Flash.

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