Viewers were introduced to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) during Season 2 of the hit CW drama series Arrow, in a way that made the character both likeable and intriguing, and it was easy to see why he immediately got his own TV show. With The Flash having made its debut to huge ratings, Barry is now getting his own backstory and mythology and villains to fight, while also playing into the bigger DC universe and, at times, characters will cross back and forth between the two shows.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, to discuss Episode 5, called “Plastique,” actor Clancy Brown talked about why he wanted to play General Wade Eiling (aka The General), having fun being a part of such popcorn entertainment, why it’s important to bring in the military element, why Plastique (Kelly Frye) is of such interest to him, working with S.T.A.R. Labs, not seeing his character as a villain, what his character’s true motivations might be, and not knowing where his arc is going but being okay with that. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
CLANCY BROWN: Well, they didn’t really sell me. He’s always been an interesting character. He’s always been a peripheral character in the DC universe, not really well realized. Back in the day, he was a ‘60s or post-Vietnam view of the military, so he was kind of a bad guy. It’s a much more complicated world now, for a character like that, with the fact that he’s involved with S.T.A.R. Labs, and the relationship between him and West. It’s a job you take to see what it becomes. I don’t really know exactly where they’re going with it, but what they’ve done with it so far promises some really interesting stuff. Hopefully, if I’m good enough, they’ll give me more stuff to do and make it even more complicated.
With as big as comic book and superhero movies and TV shows are now, what’s it like to get to be a part of the DC universe?
BROWN: I’ve always been around the DC universe in animation. I haven’t done any of the live-action stuff. I have a jaundiced view of live-action superhero stuff. But I think it lives much better on television than it does in the movies, I believe. Sorry about that, Warner Bros. That’s just my opinion. This is really fun. I was raised on the Adam West Batman, so I always got a big kick out of the stylized stuff that they were doing. We can’t be quite as camp as they were, but to introduce a little camp into the genre again is worthwhile. Also, we make it as realistic as possible, with the pseudo-science that’s going on and the high adventure. What would you do, if you were suddenly the fastest man on Earth, or you were somebody like [Plastique], where you touch something and it turns into a bomb? It’s all great chewing gum fun. It’s popcorn entertainment.
BROWN: It’s pretty logical, if some kind of an episode like this had happened, in a major metropolitan city. I’m surprised they didn’t get to it sooner, although they got to it pretty quick. It seems to me, if you had some kind of particle accelerator in a major metropolitan city and it malfunctioned and created a problem, you would see the military there, the next day. You’ve gotta figure that whatever this event was that happened, it’s being closely watched by the military, if not somehow managed by it, even if we might not know it. So, I think it’s pretty logical that you would see the military there, and I think it’s pretty logical that you would see someone like Wade Eiling there. It’s interesting. We’re a much more sophisticated audience now than we were when we were watching Adam West and Burt Ward, or when we were even reading these books. We can smell bullshit a mile away. If you hadn’t had a military presence yet, then I think the audience would be like, “Where’s the government? Where’s the military?” So, I think it makes perfect sense that Eiling shows up.
Do you see this character as a villain, or do you just see him as someone with different motivations and goals from the show’s hero?
BROWN: Well, I always see my characters as having different motivations. I don’t think he’s a villain, at all. Not like he was in the old books. No, I don’t think he’s a villain, even slightly. I think he might have methods that aren’t for general public scrutiny, but I think he’s operating with a sense of mission and honor. I don’t know that everybody would agree with him, but that’s the way it is with the military, I guess.
When General Eiling comes in and takes over, does that create tension between him and Joe West, or are they able to work together?
BROWN: We’ll see. He doesn’t really take over. You can’t really take over S.T.A.R. Labs. It’s not like they can come in and say, “Okay, now I’m in charge.” Eiling is not a particle physicist. He doesn’t know anything about that stuff. They need each other, but they don’t really like each other. Both guys would probably rather not deal with the other, but they both realize that they have to.
BROWN: Well, she is military. She’s a soldier. Any anomaly that this accident caused is going to be of interest to governments and to the United States military, so it’s about time he showed up. He starts cataloguing and trying to posses, or at least understand these anomalies. The fact that they’re human anomalies makes his mouth water with the possibility of what could happen. You’ll see that in the opening of the show. If you can turn anything into a bomb, my goodness. Just think of the money you’ll save.
Will we learn if Eiling’s motivations come more from wanting to gather the meta-humans that already exist, or whether he’s also looking at them to figure out how to make more of them for himself?
BROWN: I don’t know. What’s better? Probably both. I really don’t know the arc that I’m going to be on here, completely. They’re not telling me what I don’t need to know yet, but that’s okay with me. But the possibilities are endless, right? Is he just going to gather the ones that he has and use them up, or is he going to figure out a way to duplicate them or consolidate them? Who knows? This is cutting edge pseudo-science. If it’s got a military application, Eiling will figure it out and find a way to leverage that.
The Flash airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.