The fastest man alive
A freak accident turns ordinary scientist Barry Allen into a superhero in The Flash.
Grant Gustin is a TV heartthrob thanks to his new role as Barry Allen – aka The Flash. Season 1 Thursdays (from 28 July) SABC3 (*193) 22:30
Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is an ordinary science geek working in the forensics department of the Central City Police Department in sci-fi show The Flash (2014- current). As the adopted son of cop Joe West (Jesse L Martin), Barry’s grown up with the Wests after his dad was wrongfully jailed for murdering Barry’s mom when Barry was a kid. But thanks to a science explosion at the STAR Labs Particle Accelerator facility, Barry – and a few other Central City citizens – are given superpowers. Barry is now “the fastest man alive” and he’s got one mission: to find his mom’s real killer and free his dad. Here’s what Grant had to say about season 1 of the show that’s just arrived on SABC3 screens…
Barry has a complex family background… His biological father Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp – he played Barry Allen/ Flash in the original 1990-1991 series The Flash) has been in prison for 14 years. Barry also has adoptive dad Joe, who’s been an amazing father figure. Now that Barry has these powers, Joe wants to keep him safe but Barry wants to keep the city safe. There is a lot of head-butting between the two. Does Barry find it a struggle to cope with his new powers? He puts other people first and that’s going to get in his way sometimes. When he’s trying to stop a bad guy, he worries about the injured person left behind on the street rather than chasing after the baddie. Dr Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) invented the particle accelerator that caused Barry’s accident. How will their relationship develop? Before they met, Harrison was someone who Barry had looked up to in a professional sense. Now that they’ve met, he’s not exactly what Barry expected. He is one of the only people Barry can trust… he knows everything about what’s going on with the powers. Will Barry have any time for love? Before his accident, he had feelings for [Joe’s daughter] Iris West (Candice Patton), but she’s dating someone else and Barry wouldn’t get in the way of that. I don’t think that he’s putting love at the top of his priority list because he feels a responsibility to use his powers to protect the city. What’s been the most challenging aspect of your role? At first I thought it would be pressure from the fans, but they’ve been really accepting. Now the main challenge is working with the shooting schedule while trying to maintain my body. I’m eating as much as I can because I’m a thin guy! [Laughs] So what training do you do? I’ve always been pretty active, so I haven’t had to make any drastic changes to my workout schedule. I go to the gym often, but I’d probably be 20 pounds [9kg] lighter than I am now if I didn’t. I grew up dancing, so I have a pretty intensive dance background, which makes it a lot easier to pick up fight choreography. How do you guys get The Flash’s superhuman speed right onscreen? When we’re filming, there’s a day for “greenscreen” work and I spend the day running on a green treadmill in front of a greenscreen. The special effects team also took thousands of photos of my body and face. They have amazingly detailed shots of me, right down to the pores in my skin. They’re using these images to create computer-generated images of me running. It’s fascinating. Did you have to learn how to run correctly? I’ve always been a fast runner, but I worked with a track and field trainer to get the right movements. You don’t realise that there is a real way of running correctly. Well, I didn’t! [Laughs] And what was it like to try on The Flash costume for the first time? I knew the suit would be the thing that made this entire experience feel real because it’s such an iconic part of the character. It’s so different to any suit that’s ever existed before, which is exciting. Seeing photos of me in the suit and seeing the merchandise makes me feel really cool! Barry as The Flash.