In Episode 7 of The CW drama series The Flash, entitled “Power Outage,” The Flash (Grant Gustin) goes up against Farooq, aka Blackout (Michael Reventar), a meta-human who can harness electricity. After zapping The Flash’s powers and siphoning all of his electricity, leaving him without his speed, Farooq then heads to S.T.A.R. Labs in search of Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh), who he blames for the accident that turned him into who he is now.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Michael Reventar talked about what it took to get this role, the duality of Farooq and who he is as Blackout, why it’s more fun to play the villain than the hero, the make-up and one-of–a-kind contacts that he got to wear, and the biggest challenges in bringing this role to life. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
MICHAEL REVENTAR: Cool is an understatement. It’s been a trip, man. They always say you should enjoy the ride, but sometimes you get on and life just gives you something that you could never plan for. It was just an amazing time.
How did you come to be playing this character on The Flash, and did you even know exactly which character you were auditioning for, or did they keep that a secret?
REVENTAR: It’s funny, I was actually in Toronto for the second night of TIFF and I got a call from my agent who said, “I need you to do a self-tape, right away.” My best comes out when I’m under pressure, and he was like, “By noon, you’ve gotta get a self-tape to me.” Doing a self-tape is a beast, in itself. It’s not the easiest thing to do. So, I went into the studio and did the self-tape. I actually didn’t even really like the take that they did, but the director stopped me and said, “That’s it. Don’t touch it.” He sent it off and, six hours later in Toronto on September 5th, we literally went from 41 degrees to the humidity being so crazy that a lightning storm broke out in downtown Toronto. In the midst of that, people were running everywhere and the roads started running. We started joking that the roads were rivers because everything had backed up. And then, I got a call from my agent and he said, “Pack your bags. You’re filming The Flash.” It was pretty cool.
All of these meta-humans have a duality to them because they were all somebody before they ended up having whatever gift it is that they have now. For people who aren’t familiar with this character, who is Farooq and what does being Blackout enable him to do?
REVENTAR: He’s introduced as a carefree young man who loves life. He’s with his friends and he wants to see the particle accelerator turned on. Like any young man would do, he climbs a 65-foot transmission tower. In the rain, while getting that great view, the accelerator explodes. He tries to warn his friends and, as he’s scrambling down, he gets hit by lightning. What happens is that his friends die, but he doesn’t. He goes into a coma for six months, and when he comes out, you don’t hear anything about him. And then, one day, they find out that electrical power stations keep shutting down, and because of that, cities start to black out, hence the name. The Flash shows up on scene and meets him. As The Flash dialogues with him, Blackout actually hits him with electricity and starts to drink from him. They didn’t introduce this before, but because of The Flash’s speed, he’s actually his own source of energy. What I thought was so cool about him is that he doesn’t just have the power to siphon and throw electricity, but he’s an electrical vampire. He’s cursed with the urge to drink it. And that plays out later in the story, when an unexpected character tries to extend an olive branch and help him. There are multi-layers to him. Although he’s painted as a villain, there are elements of the man that still remain. It’s always nice not to abandon the man.
What do you enjoy about getting to play a villain vs. getting to play a hero? Is it more fun to play a character that doesn’t necessarily have the same moral compass that a hero really has to have?
REVENTAR: Absolutely! One hundred perfect of my roles have all been guys on the other side of the tracks. My mom really loves that. That being said, whenever I’m on set, the cast says to me, “Oh, my god, you have the coolest character.” I sum it up as I get to stir the pot. Personally, I like that. I’m someone who doesn’t like boundaries. I’m not so fond of that, which got me into a lot of trouble when I was younger, but I now use that thinking to push the limit in the characters that I play. It’s fun. Even when they think you’re going to play the bad guy in one way, you do it in your own style.
REVENTAR: It’s pretty crazy! The make-up artist is Tina Teoli. She was on Smallville, so she’s got experience with make-up. She saw my picture and, off my picture, she knew exactly how she was gonna do my make-up. So, everything you see is make-up. The only thing that isn’t is the contacts. They’re not manufactured overseas. There’s only one pair that exists, and it takes a lady in White Rock, B.C. five days straight to paint them by hand. Just even knowing that was really cool. Putting them on was even crazier. Walking to set, crew were nearly jumping back and screaming. If I wasn’t in character in my trailer, I definitely was by the time I arrived on set, just by the reaction around me.
This role is clearly physically challenging and you also had to deal with special effects. What were the biggest challenges for you, in playing this character?
REVENTAR: I love the physical side. I love playing action. That was the fun part because you move and you get your blood flowing. The challenge was to bring the spectacle of this monster, but still keep the man that he actually came from. Larry Shaw, the director, said that he was given three notes, to have a hero, heart and the spectacle, and my character serves the last. So, I lost my voice, a couple of times, and I’d do it all over again.
The Flash airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.