The Flash just finished its freshman season on the CW, and it went out with a bang. The season ended with Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) facing off with his mother’s killer, the man in the yellow suit, a/k/a the Reverse Flash. The Reverse Flash off course, turned out to be Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanaugh) but even that was a mask. He was really Eobard Thawne, a speedster from the future, who hates the Flash, and found himself trapped in the past. But when he first arrived in the 21st century, he wore a different face.
The younger Thawne was played by the accomplished actor, Matt Letscher. And I am not just saying that because he is a fellow alum of the University of Michigan. (Go Blue!) Letscher has had a long and diverse career in film and television, as well as theatre. He is probably best known for his roles on Scandal, Boardwalk Empire, The Carrie Diaries and Entourage, but can also been in films like Her, Gods and Monsters, and The Mark of Zorro. He was nice enough to take some time out of his very busy schedule, to talk with an old classmate about his time on the Flash, and what the future may hold for him and Eobard.
His first appearance on the show came in the Trickster episode with the very prominent guest star, Mark Hamill. Matt’s arrival was one of the show’s best kept secrets. At this point, viewers already knew the man in the yellow suit was Harrison Wells, so when the mask came off, to reveal an unfamiliar face, the audience was in for a bit of shock.
“Everything was very hush hush. I don’t think my name was even on the call sheet and any scene shot with me in the suit was done so in a controlled location.” Matt informed me. “They wanted it to be a big WTF moment. And it was!”
For an actor well versed in characters with duplicitous intentions, the world the Flash and role of super villain were still completely new to Letscher. So I was very curious to get his outsider’s take on the Flash and the superhero world. So after catching up with an old friend, we got down to the business of talking about his new role.
“I know very little of this world. I was not a comic book guy. So when I was first researching the character , the breadth of possible storylines was a little daunting. luckily, I know (Flash Executive Producer) Andrew Kriesberg pretty well and his knowledge of the Flash universe is encyclopedic, so he told me what to focus on and what to ignore. The best thing Andrew said was, “don’t play him like a bad guy. Just play the fact that he needs to get back home. But still… he’s a pretty bad guy.”
“The key to understanding his actions in the current time frame of the show is that he believes he’s stuck in a place with people who have already been dead for centuries. Thus, shortening their lifespans make little difference in the course of time. Any way you slice it, he definitely has narcissistic tendencies. What’s most interesting about the character is everything that we don’t know about him. His motivations, outside of returning to his time, are largely a mystery, with respect to the show. Why does he hate The Flash so much? What’s motivating him? I hope we find out more.”
Thawne, until this point, had solely plaid by series regular Tom Cavanaugh, did you co-ordinate with him at all about the character?
Not really. We caught up a little bit. I watched what he was doing in episodes leading up to mine to get the slightest flavor for his cadence. that was about it. We’re playing the same guy, but we’re different guys. I will say that Tom has a tremendous amount of respect for the writers and the ambition of the show. He’s a consummate pro.
This is your third time working with series creator Greg Berlanti, you were on both Eli Stone, and Brothers & Sisters, two shows that are very different from the comic book world of the Flash. What, if any, difference was it like to work on the Flash, compared to his earlier shows?
“They are all very different shows, but his sets and productions tend to have very similar vibes. Close, fun, respectful and a very present sense of humility, as in: “How lucky are we to able to do this?” The thing about the Flash and the comic book world that works so well for Greg and Andrew’s sensibility is the opportunity to juxtapose the very large and the very small. The stakes are enormous in many ways: “The world could be destroyed by a singularity! ” But what motivates the characters is not that. Barry is driven by all the personal relationships in his life, from his mother and father, to Joe, to Iris, and even to Thawne/Wells. The brilliance of the finale was how Barry worked through the consequences of this incredible event on a very personal level. Their insistence on preserving the very personal and raw emotional stakes in the face of preposterously enormous events is what separates them from a lot of other writers in this genre.
Fans of DC’s TV adaptions, like most genre shows, are pretty vocal about their love of the show and it’s characters. Were you prepared for world you’ve entered? Did you have any trepidation stepping into that world?
“I try to avoid the nether as much as possible. Reading too much about what I’m screwing up or doing perfectly is unhealthy. I’m fairly active on Twitter (@MattLetscher) on show nights. I love live tweeting. It’s fun to have that kind of experience with fans. And one thing unique to the superhero/sci-fi realm is all the amazing fan art you see. I love it.
In the world of comic books, dead is never dead, can we expect to see you back in the black and yellow suit next year? On the Flash, or maybe on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow? (the third show in the CW’s Arrow-verse which will debut in 2016)
“They’re talking a good game. I sure hope so. I love the show.”
Any chance we’ll be seeing you at New York or San Diego Comic Con?
Not yet! We’ll see!
Until the next time you get to suit up, where else can we see you?
“I’m working on Michael Bay’s next film at the moment. Can’t say much about it, but look for it later this year. I’ve also written and produced a web series called One & Done (oneanddoneshow.com) along with a slew of our fellow (Michigan) Wolverines, that will debut in the very near future. Check out our Facebook page or find us on Twitter at @1anddonetheshow, as well as the movie Teacher of the Year with Keegan Michael Key (of Key and Peele) that just went to VOD on platforms everywhere.