Twenty-three years ago, CBS premiered a high-budget series based on The Flash that they had so much confidence in, they put it on Thursday nights opposite some of the toughest competition on television. At the time, it was one of the most expensive TV series ever.
Playing Barry Allen in that series was John Wesley Shipp, who many may remember from his many other roles which have included soaps, Dawson’s Creek, and even a short recent run on MTV’s Teen Wolf.
Shipp recently did a guest spot on the “Out Loud and Live!” podcast with J.C. Alvarez, where he looked back on his Flash experience but also looked to the future, as Grant Gustin who, after 22 years of no Flash on TV, finally takes up the red suit.
“The first thing I thought when I saw Grant, I thought he’s aerodynamic,” Shipp said about his reaction to the casting of TV’s new Barry Allen. “That’s the modern sensibility. Back in the 90’s, everything had to be big muscle, but let’s face it: We had to cut down the suit. If you’ll watch, we pared it down as it went on, because it just didn’t make sense. But I thought he’s very aerodynamic, the way he’s built. It’s a good look.”
The former Flash is also aware of the many connections he and Grant Gustin have. “There are striking similarities between Grant and I. People were complaining. ‘Why is this guy playing a superhero? He just got through playing a villain!’ Well, both my Emmys were as a psychotic would-be rapist and a woman abuser. We were both born in Norfolk, Virginia. How’s that for a coincidence?” Mr. Shipp enthused.
Shipp has encouraged his fans to watch the Barry Allen Arrow episodes if they want to see more of the character and an actual spin-off show. “I wish him all the best. In fact, I’ve said ‘come on. How long have we waited? You want a Flash series? You better get into Arrow and support Grant, because they can say they’re gonna spin off, but you need to give him and them support so the series actually materializes,” he said.
If a Flash series does go, would Mr. Shipp be willing to return to Central City sometime, in a different role?
“If it was the right fit. You know what? I’m not holding my breath. In fact, I so wanted my audience not to go in critically judging Grant so that I put a series of things saying that. ‘Let’s get behind him, let’s support him,’ and I stopped, because people began to say ‘well, you need to be on that show, and if you’re not on that show…’ and I said ‘Okay. Now it’s looking like I’m campaigning to be on that show, which I’m not’,” he said. “If that happens and it works, that’s great. And if it doesn’t, that’s great and I wish them well.”
You can listen to the entire [very fascinating] podcast appearance of John Wesley Shipp on “Out Loud and Live!” here.