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, actor Rick Cosnett (who plays seemingly perfect Detective Eddie Thawne) talked about how he won the acting jackpot with this show and role, making his flawless character likeable for audiences, how deeply he delved into his character’s story, being the unexpected foil for the hero, the easy chemistry he has with Candice Patton (who plays Iris West), keeping his character’s background a bit of a mystery, balancing the light moments with the really heavy moments, and the feedback he’s already hearing from fans. He also talked about how much fun he had playing Dr. Wes Maxfield on The Vampire Diaries, and that he would have liked to have seen what would have happened, if Dr. Wes had been turned into a vampire. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Collider: What does it mean to you to get to be a part of the DC universe, at a time when comic book and superhero stories are so popular? And then, what was it like to see how amazing the ratings were for the debut of this story, in particular?
RICK COSNETT: I won the acting jackpot on this one, honestly, not only with how successful it all is, but with my character and the arc that he’s going to take. It’s really exciting.
Who, in your life, is most excited about you being a part of this show?
COSNETT: Probably my dad. Eddie is the son that all dads want, I think.
When you play a guy who is so flawless and awesome, how do you balance that, so that the audience doesn’t just hate him?
COSNETT: As an actor, you try to bring as much of your personality to the role as you can. You make him human. As flawless as he is, we all have little nuances that make us imperfect, and I think Eddie has his fair share of those, which make you love him even more. I really try to create, at the moment, someone who’s seemingly very good. He’s just a good man. I’m hoping that comes across, in a way where people will adore him almost as much as Barry. Barry is obviously going to get lots of attention. He is the underdog, and everyone loves an underdog. He’s the lead. But, I’m making a really good case for Eddie.
These types of shows tend to be so secretive about so much. When you were auditioning, did you know any specifics about the character you were auditioning for?
COSNETT: It was crazy! I auditioned, and then the night before the pilot, we all went out for dinner. (Executive Producer) Andrew Kreisberg said, on the way out, “Did we tell you that this is happening?” I was just standing there, stunned. I was like, “Wait, what?!” And he’s dropped other bombs over dinner. It’s surprising, but really cool.
From the moment it was announced that you’d be playing Eddie Thawne, there was immediate talk about whether he could ever evolve into Reverse Flash, at some point. After you looked into the character, who he was and who he could become, was that something you started rooting for yourself, or are you just trying to take things episode by episode, at this stage?
COSNETT: At this stage, you don’t want to look too far ahead, as an actor. Obviously, you want to know where you’re going, but you want to be constantly surprising yourself, as you go through the journey, so that any information that comes at you is new, as it is in life. So, I don’t like to read too far ahead. I just want to go on the journey, and let the audience go on the journey with Eddie. But, Eddie has already changed. He’s gone through a big process. He has a big arc, even in the first nine episodes. It’s been crazy! As an actor, you live for this stuff. You live for the other actors because it’s really what happens between, “Action!,” and “Cut!,” where the adrenalin lies. To be acting with such talented, alive, present, wonderful actors has been a dream come true for me.
Eddie Thawne could have easily been the jerk that everyone was rooting for Iris to get rid of, so that she and Barry could get together, but he’s a nice guy who’s seemingly good at his job. Is it more fun for you, as an actor, that he is the more unexpected character than just the typical foil for the hero?
COSNETT: Absolutely! I think that’s such an intelligent choice. Not to my credit, but to the producers’ credit, they helped mold him into being really likeable. It’s all the more heart-breaking for Barry. There’s just so much more tension. And as an audience member, we want them to be torn between Barry and Eddie. Just like in life, it needs to make sense. We need to see why Iris is attracted to Eddie, you need to see why she’s with Eddie, and you need to feel like you could also be with Eddie. I think there’s going to be a wonderful tension between the two, and they’re so juxtaposed. They’re pretty much the opposite of each other. It’s really fun. I feel sorry for Barry.
What do you enjoy about the easy chemistry between Eddie and Iris, and getting to work with Candice Patton?
COSNETT: Candice just brings this magical spark to Iris. She’s so positive, and full of energy and life. Her and Eddie have this amazing spark, personality wise, and they have a sexual spark. Their chemistry is wonderful and he just finds her absolutely delightful. It snuck up on him. He wasn’t supposed to like her ‘cause she’s his partner’s daughter. He used to give her lifts, because he’s such a nice guy, to see Barry when Barry was in a coma. And then, suddenly one day, it dawned on him that he was falling in love with this girl. And Candice is an absolute delight to work with. We have so much fun. You know, when you’re a little kid and you see someone who has this sparkle in their eye? I see that in her, and it’s really easy to act with her.
There are some fun and funny quips between Barry Allen and Eddie Thawne. What’s it been like to work with Grant Gustin and get to play that interaction?
COSNETT: Yeah, it’s so fun! Grant is just the absolute best. He’s just so grounded and real. His performance is amazing and inspiring. As an actor, he just brings such a reality to Barry that we just feel like we know Barry. It’s really fun because, as an actor. I know exactly what’s happening in a scene, but Eddie is completely oblivious to poor Barry’s heartache. It’s really wonderful, as an actor, to be able to do that. I just get off on it. It’s amazing!
Your character is clearly one of the ones we don’t know too much about yet, as far as where he’s come from and who he is, up until the point that we meet him in the story. Will we learn some of that? Is that something you’re still learning about?
COSNETT: That’s a sensitive question. The mystery for the audience is that you don’t know exactly where he’s come from, but you know that he’s come from another city. He’s a recent transfer from Keystone City, so he’s new to everyone. He’s just moved there, which is why he doesn’t have many friends. He was thrust together with Iris, and that’s how that relationship happened. But in terms of where he’s come from, I did a lot of research on his name and the family. I know what’s happening, but we’ve kept it very much a mystery. But things are going to pan out very quickly, in terms of what’s going to happen over the next few episodes.
At least in the first couple of episodes, The Flash has more light moments and humor than Arrow does. Is that something that will continue throughout the season, or will we also see some darker episodes and storylines, as things progress?
COSNETT: I think here’s a wonderful balance and juxtaposition between the light moments and the really heavy moments, and that just makes it so strong. There are these wonderful moments of comic relief that often just happen between us when we’re doing it. We get to discover the scene on set, and that’s where all the magic little moments come from, as well as the writers and producers, who have been very clever to write in these really great lines that go so well with each of our characters. But when things get serious, they really do. There is a lot of blood and gore coming up, and there’s a lot of fighting and a lot of action, as well. It’s got everything, really.
Your work on The Vampire Diaries was so great and so deliciously evil. After what he did, do you think that Dr. Wes Maxfield got what he deserved, or would you defend his actions to the death?
COSNETT: I would still defend his actions. I just love Dr. Wes, so much. As an actor, you have to fall in love with your character and see everything from their perspective. He really just thought he was doing good. Yes, okay, he might have gone over the edge, but it was almost not his fault. He just lost track. He got really consumed with power. He thought he had a great plan for how to eradicate the vampires. Unfortunately, if he did go any further, there wouldn’t have been any series regulars left. It would have been amazing if he had turned into a vampire himself. I think that would have been an amazing twist. But I think it was a good lesson to all of us, that he got his just desserts. You can’t roll like that, in life.