Viewers were introduced to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) during Season 2 of The CW’s hit 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.
In Episode 3, “Things You Can’t Outrun,” viewers will revisit the painful night the particle accelerator exploded and killed Caitlin Snow’s (Danielle Panabaker) fiancé, Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell), who also becomes one half of Firestorm, in future episodes. During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Robbie Amell talked about how he was offered the role, how excited his mom is that he booked the show, finding his place among the actors and characters, who Ronnie Raymond is, Ronnie’s relationship with Caitlin, why he’s stayed away and let his fiancée think he was dead, sharing Firestorm with Victor Garber, how awesome it is to get to be in a fight with somebody else from the DC universe, and how he’d love to have a storyline with his cousin Stephen Amell, aka Arrow. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
ROBBIE AMELL: Well, (executive producer) Greg Berlanti called. He knows how big of a fan I am of comic books and superheros. We have a great relationship, and he was just like, “We have this character coming up. Do you want to do it?” And I was like, “Yeah! Yes, for sure! Don’t give it to anybody else!” I actually wasn’t familiar with the character, though. I knew of him and who he was, but I’m a huge Batman fan and I was a huge Batman fan, growing up. Firestorm doesn’t really live in the same universe. I got a care package from DC with some comics and some action figures. It was the next day. I was in Toronto at the time. I don’t even know how they got my address, but they overnighted this package and I was like, “All right!” And my mom, who’s my biggest fan, went out, as soon as she heard, and bought every Firestorm comic book she could find. I just dove head-first into the universe. It’s nice to be playing a character who’s never had a live-action version before. Just being the first person to bring the character to life is really fun and exciting. I hope people aren’t disappointed.
The Tomorrow People was cool because you were creating your own superhero universe, but what’s it like to be a part of the greater superhero universe of DC?
AMELL: It’s awesome! I can’t tell you much about my episodes in December, but I get to fight somebody else from the DC universe in December. I’m in a DC comics fight, in one of my episodes, later on. It’s awesome!
Who, in your life, is most excited that you’re a part of this whole comic book and superhero universe now?
AMELL: You know, I would say it’s all my buddies who I geek out with and play video games with. But really, ultimately, it always comes down to my mom. She’s my biggest fan. She was most excited when I book a guest star on CSI, a few years ago. She’ll always be most excited when I book whatever it is, no matter what it is. She does geek out, too. She’s pretty excited that I get to have fire on my head and fire on my hands. She’s always the most excited, and that’s the best.
After spending a season forming bonds and establishing a family dynamic on The Tomorrow People, was it challenging to switch gears and find your place among the actors and characters on The Flash, or did it feel pretty smooth?
AMELL: What’s great is that they shoot in Vancouver. I got to set and it was 70% Tomorrow People crew. It was all familiar faces who were so happy to see me, and I was so happy to see them. It was like coming back for a second season, with some new cast members. Danielle [Panabaker] is good friends with Aaron Yoo, who played Russell on The Tomorrow People, so he told her that I was going to be there. We hit it off, right away. We just talked about mutual friends. It was good. They’re all great people. I actually hadn’t met Grant [Gustin] until I got there, but I was like, “I feel like I know you,” having been in the same world on The CW. And he was like, “Yeah, man, me too!” Everybody up there is so talented and so nice. It’s a really easy group of people to start working with.
AMELL: Ronnie works with all of these scientists, but he’s the hands-on guy. He’s the mechanic among the group of engineers. He’s got this way about him where he can bring people out of their shell. If you watch the dynamic between he and Caitlin, compared to Caitlin and everyone else, she’s a little neurotic and by-the-books and everything is calculated, but Ronnie can pull her out of that and just let her drop her guard a little. I wanted that to be a staple of this character. He’s almost got a little goofiness to him, where he can make people feel comfortable and lighten things up. You won’t see that from him in December. When you find him in December, he’s a little distraught. But before things go down, he’s definitely on the lighter side of things.
Because she was much more closed of than she was with him, what did Ronnie see in Caitlin?
AMELL: She’s this beautiful, brilliant scientist, but what fans will see is the part of her that Ronnie fell in love with. There’s this funny, charming, beautiful woman behind that little bit neurotic, calculating scientist. The dynamic between them shows why there were together and why it worked.
What’s it like to know that Victor Garber is playing Dr. Martin Stein, who is the other half of Firestorm?
AMELL: It’s awesome! I worked with him a couple years ago, and I’ve always been a big fan of his. My fiancée is the biggest Titanic fan you’ve ever met. She’s more excited than I am. She’s more excited than anybody is. I’m excited that I get to work, not only opposite him, but I’ve gotta learn to do a Victor Garber impression because sometimes the character will be played by me, physically, but him, mentally. It’s an actor’s dream and nightmare ‘cause I have to do a Victor Garber impression, but that means I have to do a Victor Garber impression. It’s a double-edged sword, but he’s such a good guy. When I’m up in Vancouver with him, we’ll probably just grab a bite to eat and have a beer, and I’ll try to pick up some mannerisms of his.
AMELL: Everyone loves an origin story, and we get to show how we got there. It makes it all the more fun to watch it fall apart and get rebuilt.
Will we learn about why he’s stayed away and why he’s let Caitlin believe that he’s dead, instead of coming forward and telling her what happened?
AMELL: You definitely will. You only see me briefly, for my first episode in December, but then you see me again, right after that. You get a sense as to why he stayed away. It’s for her own safety. He doesn’t really know what’s happened to him. It’s been almost a year, and he can’t put it together. He didn’t get killed by the particle accelerator, but something happened. He’s a little schizophrenic. He’s definitely scared. And he doesn’t want to hurt anybody, especially Caitlin.
How do you think she’ll feel, discovering that not only is he not dead, but he’s a bit different from the last time she saw him?
AMELL: The first time you see me, it’s almost horror movie-esque. It’s very cool. I can’t tell you too much about it.
Out of all of the characters from the bigger DC universe, is there a dream character that you’d love to see Firestorm work with or go up against, at some point?
AMELL: Yeah, Arrow! It would be so much fun to go over to Arrow for an episode, or have Arrow come over to The Flash for an episode that I could be a part of. My first episode back, I might not even be the only Amell in the episode. But a fight scene would be pretty fun, either with or against my cousin [Stephen].
The Tomorrow People really took quite a journey and got better and better with each episode, and really left so much possibility in its finale. Were you able to get a sense of closure with that show, or will there always be aspects of that character you wish you’d had some more time to explore?
AMELL: There will always be a part of me that wishes I was shooting Season 2 right now. We had so much fun. We had such a good group of people. I agree with you and I really think we started telling the best story, as the show progressed. With that being said, we had an amazing season. We had a lot of fun. I think we made a great show. I’m really proud of what we did. It’s better to leave them wanting more than to be the show where people are like, “Oh, that’s still on the air?” I do really appreciate everything I’ve heard from the fans and from people that tuned into the show. It’s now on Netflix, and I’m getting tweets, every day, from people who are like, “Oh, no, I just started watching The Tomorrow People and just found out it was cancelled. Why did you cancel this show!?” That’s really sweet to hear and always makes me smile. I wouldn’t trade last year for anything. It was a lot of fun.
The Flash airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.