Grant Gustin Weighs In on Why ‘The Flash’ Is Fooled by Fake Iris
The Flash is finally back tonight with a new episode, but not so fast, folks. Before you rush off to watch the hour, which marks the unwelcome return of the show’s most nightmarish villain, Rag Doll (Troy James), we need to discuss Barry Allen (Grant Gustin).
Since mid-season, our Scarlet Speedster has been unaware that Iris (Candice Patton) was secretly pulled into the Mirrorverse by Eva McCulloch (Efrat Dor), the “missing” wife of tech baddie Joseph Carver (Eric Nenninger), and replaced with a doppelganger. Now, what Barry thinks is his beloved bride is slyly manipulating Team Flash and doing an OK job of passing herself off, but how long can this go on? Barry is a pretty smart guy and we’re running out of original episodes due to the Corona-abbreviated season, so he needs to start catching on soon, right?
Maybe…maybe not. In advance of this week’s return, we spoke with the patently down-to-Earth Gustin from his L.A. home about why Barry might be missing the red flags with wifey, as well as how he and his own (gorgeous!) bride, LA Thoma, are holding up amid the lockdown that has settled in on all of us. And let’s just say, when it comes to great perspectives, the guy could give Joe West a run for his money.
Hello, sir! How are you doing?
Grant Gustin: Hey man, you know, healthy and trying to stay busy. So I can’t complain.
It probably feels like a year ago that you were in the middle of the Crisis crossover thinking “When do I get a break?”
I know. When I don’t let my mind wander and worry about everything that’s going on but is out of my control, I can just kind of be present. And all I’ve wanted for six-plus years is a little time at home with my wife and my dogs. So I am definitely finding a way to enjoy this time.
Exactly. And what a great crew to be with. How much of the show did you guys wrap before the shutdown?
We fully finished episode 619. When I went home [from Vancouver], I thought we had finished 620 but I think we were missing a handful of scenes with some other characters. I had finished all of my work in episode 620, but out of the planned 22 episodes, I think 619 is our last fully finished episode.
So let’s talk about this return episode. We’ve gotten some ideas of what’s going on with Eva and she keeps creating new mirror people, but how long can Barry go without realizing there’s something off about this Iris?
It definitely goes longer than I think the viewers would like it. I’m sure people are screaming at Barry to open his eyes. [Laughs] And I was a little surprised how long it went too, but I think it’s justified by just how much other stuff is going on. Thawne (Tom Cavanagh) coming back and dealing with him, the Speed Force now slowly dying and Barry’s speed depleting. I think he has enough distractions that we can buy that he’s a little clouded right now. But he will be the first team member to start to realize something’s off with Iris and all these moments will start to add up when he finally has the epiphany that, yeah, it’s not really his Iris.
Can you get your mind around the fact that you have been doing this for so long?
I know, it’s crazy. I mean sometimes it feels like it’s been longer. [Laughs] I’ve gotten to a really good place with it now, as far as like the grind of it and the stress levels. I feel like I’ve let go of a lot of the pressures I put on myself and maybe some of the bad habits I had developed with letting pressure and stress get to me. I’m in a good, happy place with the process of the show now.
And this season in particular blew by just because I think, more than ever, I was present every day and letting myself enjoy it. I think it was more stressful early on because it was daunting to think that we had signed six-year contracts and the schedule is so intense and it can be so challenging on all of us. That definitely used to get to me more than it gets to me now. And I appreciate the journey and appreciate the job and the character. Not that I didn’t before, but it’s just gotten easier to go to work and have fun.
And you have grown up so much doing this show. All of you in the Arrowverse, you and Stephen Amell and Melissa Benoist, you get married, people get pregnant and people start wine companies.
So much wine! But it sounds like you have found something good. Are you doing meditation? Have you discovered some kind of practice that really has grounded you?
I used to. I’m not a consistent meditator. I’ve always tried to be better about it and I have fallen into a better pattern with it the past year. And I think my relationship with my wife also started to really ground me a little bit more. We started couples therapy together before we got married, just to [learn] know how to really be there for each other and be the best husband and wife. And I was also in individual therapy, which I would recommend for everyone. So yeah, I mean I’ve just found different tools as the years have gone on to kind of stay a little more present and focused. I was talking to Michael Rosenbaum yesterday.
Did you do his podcast?
I finally did it, Inside of You, yeah. We were talking about this stuff, too, and I was saying that I really didn’t know what being Number 1 [on a call sheet] meant and I think I’ve learned a lot over the years. I don’t need to put so much pressure. Like, I used to think that I had to help move the day along and that would bring out sides out of me that weren’t me, you know? And they were probably frustrating for certain people to deal with. And I feel like over the years, I’ve been able to take a step outside of myself and understand that everyone’s stressed about their own thing and focused on their own work and that all I have to do is my work. Which I’ve always cared about, but just focus on the work and be as relaxed, happy and helpful as I can be at work and not get in anybody else’s way. And it’s just kinda gotten easier to do just my job and not worry about other stuff.
That’s job enough. Speaking of added pressures, Barry has all of this other stuff that he takes on, while still dealing with the loss of Nora and being a hero. But going into her journal and looking for a new recipe for the Speed Force, how is that going to affect him as we get deeper into the season?
It probably is making him a little more stressed about everything going on. It is, you know, an emotional kind of touchy spot for him. But he’s going to be so focused on finding a way to get an artificial Speed Force working and to defeat Thawne and to get Iris out of the mirrorverse that I think he’s just kind of overwhelmed in general. We’re not gonna really see him dealing more with the loss of Nora and grieving about that, but it probably is getting him a little too stressed about everything and less focused on what he really needs to be focused on.
Now, what are you doing for fun?
All kinds of things, honestly, that I never had time for. First of all, I’m working out more than I’ve ever worked out since The Flash started.
Well, don’t get too big. They’ll have to tweak the suit again!
[Laughs] You know, I’ve been talking to my wardrobe designer! I started on a better regimen as the season was ending and we were talking about it then, but now, if this really lasts as long as it could potentially last, like months and months, then I’m for sure going to have a hard time getting into my suit when I come back. But I think it’s worth the trade-off because I’ve always wanted to get in a little bit better shape and the schedule has always made it hard for me to do so. And if I can stay on this routine, it definitely makes me feel happier and healthier. So I will try to stick with it.
I’m also learning the guitar and ukulele, which I’ve always kind of done on and off, but now I can do it every day. And video games, which I always wish I had more time to do. Oh and movies and TV and hang with the dogs.
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Are you catching up on the TV that you haven’t been able to watch because you’ve been making TV?
Kind of. It’s funny, I’m not even jumping into a lot of these newer shows. Like I’m revisiting New Girl, which I love and we’ve rewatched all of The Office already. Oh, and we’re watching this Tiny House Nation show, which we’ve been addicted to. Like, we finished it on Netflix and then went to iTunes to buy more episodes. [Laughs]
Well, I gotta say, you sound really happy right now. Really content.
Yeah. You know, my wife and I, we understand how lucky we are to have the means to stay home and do our part by staying inside. And we’re lucky to be healthy…my family is healthy in Virginia and my wife’s family’s healthy in Ohio. So as long as we don’t worry too much about all the things that we can’t control and do all that we can and understand how blessed we are, then, yeah, it’s easy to keep things in perspective and not get too wound up about everything.
Nice. All right, well I have to wrap you, but I just last thing for next season. Can you do something about getting Kyle Harris (Stitchers) a role on the show? I know you guys are tight.
[Laughs] Kyle talks to me about this constantly! He’s like, “Bro, if you finish seven, eight, nine seasons of that show and I never guest-star, I’m, I’m never gonna forgive you.”
Honestly, he’s so delightful and I feel like somebody needs to capitalize on this.
I know! There’s been a couple things that have come up over the past six years, but I don’t want it to be like a throwaway thing. I want it to be something worth him being able to do a handful of episodes or like pop in and then come back the next season. I just want it to be worth our time and worth his talent.
How do you two know each other again?
He was Tony in the West Side Story Broadway tour that I did. It was my first big job and we’ve stayed best friends ever since.
Nice. I had to put a pitch in there for him because it’s been too long since he’s been on air.
I know, I know. I need to have that conversation with the higher-ups. Kyle and I talk about it all the time.
The Flash, Tuesdays, 8/7c, The CW