Sendhil Ramamurthy Previews a ‘Very Different’ Face-Off on ‘The Flash’
A brilliant doctor, a friend of Caitlin’s (Danielle Panabaker) and, well, now a monstrous killer known as Bloodwork, Ramsey is not a Speedster, nor is he a speed god, unstoppable entity or even an alternate-universe interloper. He’s just a really normal, really angry guy who has gone way over the line. And now, in Part 1 of the two-part midseason finale, “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen,” he is set to take our boy Barry on a wild head trip in hopes of getting The Flash to get off his case and let him continue his reign of terror…all in the name of science.
Whether or not Ramsey makes a winning case remains to be seen, but Ramamurthy is definitely having a blast shaking things up for our boy Barry.
Are you having the best time ever playing this guy?
Sendhil Ramamurthy: It’s a lot of fun, I can’t lie. [Laughs] As an actor, when you don’t have the pressure to be likable all the time, it’s super freeing because you come into this knowing that the audience knows you’re the villain. On the other hand, you want him to kind of sympathetic…that people will at least try to understand and relate to him. Because he’s clearly going about things the wrong way, but we can kind of sympathize with what he’s going through. Not that it justifies what he’s doing, but you always need to make your case. Like, you don’t want to just be this mustache-twirling villain. He’s not just doing it for the sake of being evil.
Obviously he’s just denying a deep grief.
Yeah. It’s a deep grief and it’s a deep need to stay alive. I think basically everything that he’s doing is coming out of fear, right? He’s scared out of his mind and he is literally scared for his life. He saw what it was like for his mother—the first time we saw Ramsey, he was at his mother’s funeral—and it’s clearly been a very traumatic thing for him. And then when he finds out that he’s dying of the same thing she did and now knows what it was like. From the very beginning when I was talking with Eric Wallace, our showrunner, about how this is really great for me because I have a window into the future, right? And in Ramsey’s mind, you can justify just about anything because you don’t want to go through that,
Now that he is gone full-blown Bloodwork, how Ramsey handling the fact that he’s gone too far here?
Um, I don’t think he thinks that. [Laughs] That’s what’s the interesting thing is, I don’t think he does think he’s gone too far. Like for him, anything is worth living. Anything is worth not having to experience the pain that he went through losing his mother. I mean, talk about mama’s boy. [Laughs] But that loss has tipped him over the edge. He’s clearly not in his right mind right now.
In this week’s episode, Bloodwork infects The Flash with this mysterious contagion. So now he’s got these powers to actually make other people sick?
Exactly. But he thinks he’s actually saving people. He thinks because he has in a way beaten death— even though, you know, he clearly hasn’t—he thinks that he’s helping people. That’s what’s so messed up. In the end, he is a doctor and he is there to cure people, not to harm them. So in his warped brain, he feels like he’s actually performing a beneficial thing for all of mankind by creating these zombies. For him, it’s a good thing that he’s doing, like “Why can’t you all see that? I’m trying to help you.”
That is terrifying. The whole doctor’s thing is “First, do no harm.”
Yeah. Right. Yeah. There was even a closeup on the Hippocratic oath, you know, in a past episode! And for him, he is doing help. He is helping everybody. And I think that’s the tragedy of his character. That he can lose his way so badly that he thinks what he’s doing is part of the oath that he took to be a doctor.
And this infection, how does that play into the temptation of Barry Allen?
Well, it’s really this episode and the next, it’s a two-parter that is just a long conversation, really, between Ramsey and Barry, where I’m just trying to show him that what I’m doing is not bad. What I’m doing is helpful and I don’t understand why he can’t see that, especially since Barry and Ramsy are really trying to escape the same fate.
We know Barry is going to die in Crisis. We know Ramsey has a HLH cancer and that he’s going to die. And the difference is that Ramsey can see why Barry is accepting of everything. He’s like, “Why are you accepting this? Look at what I’m doing, I’m fighting, I’m a fighter. And look at my mom, she gave up and she should’ve fought…you should fight. Why aren’t you fighting?” So we have this conversation through the next two episodes where I tell him why he should fight [and] why I should keep doing what I’m doing.
And how far does he get in convincing Barry?
Well, you’ll have to watch the episode to find out why. [Laughs]
So is it really as you and Grant talking in various settings?
Yeah. I mean, it is a long conversation and very different for the show from what I gathered. Grant kept saying, “This is going to be different for our show.” And I think it’s something that the show has earned over five seasons, to be able to do something like this. I really enjoyed it. I just thought it was something that was super cool and very different. I’ve done some genre in my time and this was very different for me, as well.
Speaking of the genre TV you’ve done before, how different is it doing a superhero show with the technology that is available to you guys now?
It’s kind of wild how things have changed. The visual effects process has become less tedious. It’s become less time-consuming, which is great. But I’ll tell you what the biggest difference between Heroes and doing The Flash now, 10 years later, is the interaction with the fans. It’s the social media… that is the biggest change I have noticed. The feedback that you get from the fans, whether they like something or don’t like something, you know, everybody’s got an opinion and they let you know real quick. [Laughs] And I just really enjoy tweeting with The Flash fans. They are so incredibly passionate and they’re all over the world.
Oh yeah. You can be tweeting with someone from South America who is watching it on some random feed at like 3am.
I know! Walking through an airport has become like a special kind of experience these days now and I had no idea. I had no idea that the show was this popular, right? My kids love the show but I didn’t know exactly how popular it is all over. I didn’t know until I was like halfway through shooting that it was still the number one show on the CW. I had no idea.
And the fans will treat you well even if you’re the villain.
Seriously, there’s been so many people that have said so many nice things. And I will tell you, TSA workers love a villain! So shout out to the all the TSA workers at airports. They are some of the coolest, most passionate fans and clearly love the show. And they’ve got some feedback too. They share their ideas with you, which I think is really great. I’ve been enjoying it.
The Flash, Tuesdays, 8/7c, The CW