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Interview: Talking Flash Season 3 With Todd & Aaron Helbing

Craig Byrne from FlashTVNews interviews the Executive Producers of The Flash about the show’s upcoming third season.

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Flash Season 3 Grant GustinThe third season of The Flash is only TWO WEEKS away, and this year Barry faces a challenge of his own creation: Flashpoint, a world created after Barry went back in time to stop the Reverse-Flash from killing his mother.

To promote the October 4 premiere, we spoke with Executive Producers Todd and Aaron Helbing about the new season, and hopefully some scoops were to be had along the way. We tried to leave no [philosopher’s] stone unturned, though as this interview is long it is spread over multiple pages, so be sure to navigate to read more. Enjoy the interview!

FlashpointFLASHTVNEWS’ CRAIG BYRNE: What kind of effects might we see from Flashpoint early on?

AARON HELBING (AH): Everything is different. Barry grew up with Joe and Iris, and now in Flashpoint he grows up with his parents, so he doesn’t have that same relationship with Joe or with Iris. He had a schoolboy crush on Iris growing up, and then some time had passed, and so he has to approach her from a different angle. He can’t just be “Hey, Iris. I’m Barry Allen! You know, we used to… oh, right, we didn’t live together because that never happened.” So just their relationship is a completely different experience for him, and it’s a challenge now because he still sees Iris, she’s still beautiful, he still has a crush on her… it’s “how do I now approach this girl who I know all of these things about, but I can’t say anything?”

FLA301b_0057bAnd he just pretty much had her at the end of Season 2.

AH: Yes! He had her, and I think that goes back to how deep of a loss his mother murdered and then compounded with his father being killed by Zoom… both of them happened in front of him. And so, there’s that hole that he’s been trying to fill and he just hasn’t been able to fill it. It’s not until he goes back and saves his mother that he feels like he can actually fill that hole.

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Interviews

Interview: John Wesley Shipp Discusses Tonight’s Flash Finale

Interview with actor John Wesley Shipp about tonight’s Flash season finale “The Heart of the Matter, Part 2” and Jay Garrick’s role in it

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The Season 7 finale of The Flash airs tonight (July 20) at 8PM ET/PT on The CW, and “Heart of the Matter, Part 2” sees Team Flash not only going up against August Heart a.k.a. Godspeed, but it also features some matters of the heart as Barry and Iris renew their vows and new-from-the-future characters Bart and Nora do their best to protect their “Uncle Jay.”

“Uncle Jay” is, of course, Jay Garrick, the original Flash as played by John Wesley Shipp, whose adventure in red tights began over thirty years ago as star of the CBS Flash TV series. In modern times, Shipp — whose credits also include such series as Dawson’s Creek and Teen Wolf — has played multiple characters on the current Flash show, including Barry’s father Henry Allen, Jay Garrick of another Earth, and even his original Flash character from 1990! Now he’s on Earth-Prime for this big family reunion… and the speed force will need all they can assemble to stop Godspeed in the finale.

We had the opportunity to speak with John Wesley Shipp about this Flash finale and what we can expect. Here’s it is:

FLASHTVNEWS’ CRAIG BYRNE: Can you talk about the interactions that we have between Jay and Bart?

JOHN WESLEY SHIPP: It’s is a very interesting construct, as so often has happened on The CW Flash.

There’s a closeness that Nora and Bart feel toward Jay, so much, so that Bart comes back and puts his own life at risk to keep Jay from being killed, but it’s based on a lived history that Jay hasn’t experienced yet. He feels this intimacy, love, warmth, and energy coming off of this kid, which is great. Love it. Uncle Jay? All right. That’s great. I love it. But he doesn’t really get where it’s coming from, because he hasn’t lived the experiences that they have lived with him in the future.

The person who has to sell that, because we don’t see it happen, is Jordan Fisher [Bart], and in the last episode, when he is telling Nora “they killed Uncle Jay” and his whole reaction, which was so true… it broke my heart. I was like, “okay, it’s gonna work.”

There are some things that we do in the finale that unless you believe how heartfelt Bart’s connection to Jay is, it wouldn’t have worked. But he laid it in so beautifully, and I can’t wait for people to see what’s coming in the finale.

It also feels great to be so central to what’s going on in an episode. I’ve enjoyed my elder statesman status, where I get to come in and give some important information. I don’t have to break my back. The kids do the heavy lifting and it’s been great. But this time, I get to be at the crux of what’s happening in the story. and not only that, but I have my powers back, and I get to be a part of the solution. When Eric Wallace was talking to me about coming back for these last two episodes, those two things sold me on it.

Was it during that conversation with Eric Wallace that you first found out that Jay was still on Earth-Prime after the Crisis?

I learned that before. He told me that when the conversation where he was selling me on coming back and sacrificing myself as Flash-90. I was like “whaaat?” We had the conversation on what happens to Jay, and Eric was quoted saying fairly early on that Jay and Joan were on Earth-Prime, so it wasn’t a big surprise to me that they were brought on to Earth-Prime.

If you had a time machine to tell yourself 30 years ago that you would be on a Flash show again for eight years, how would you respond?

I wouldn’t have been able to go on. [Laughs] I wouldn’t have been able to continue.

I just remember that last shot with me and Mark Hamill, in southeast Los Angeles as we were fighting the sun coming up, trying to get the last shot in, sweating our you-know-whats off. Finally we get the last shot, and I rip off the wings and throw them in the air, and swear I’ll never get into another superhero suit as long as I lived, simply because it physically was so hard, and and also, because we didn’t have CGI. We did live action practical effects. We were always shooting until dawn. The suit was not particularly user-friendly, although it looked great.

So if I had known in 1991, that years later, be getting back into a new version of that suit, I might have changed careers.

Were you like “I’m going to go for a drive and drop my ice cream over this right now?”

That ice cream was looking mighty good. Exactly.

Can you talk about Barry & Iris’s vow renewals, and being there for that?

I love many things about what they’ve done this season. I love dividing it into graphic novels. We live in the age of Netflix. Nobody has the attention span to drag a 23 episode arc out; in this case, 18 because of COVID. You know, and so to break it in to what they’re calling graphic novels, and of course, going into the last episode of the last graphic novel, which we go through so many special effects, so much peril, so much emotional angst… and then at the end of it, we’re people. We’re out of our superhero suits. We’re at a renewal of a vow ceremony. It’s a life-affirming and love-affirming event at the end of the day. What a beautiful way to end this extraordinary season, which has been shot under extraordinary conditions.

Are you allowed to say anything about your appearance onStargirl, and is that Jay Garrick different from the one that we see on The Flash?

I can’t really say anything, because I don’t know what they want me to say, and what they don’t want me to say. But clearly, it’s been announced it’s Jay, and it has his connection to the JSA, and I will say in a terrific way – a way that it felt so satisfying doing it. I’m excited about people watching Stargirl. Starting August 10 on The CW!

DC Comics is coming out with Superman ’78 and Batman ’89 comics. Would you like to see The Flash ’90 at some point?

Oh, sure. Why not? That would be great fun.

We one that they did while we were on the air and the DC library and told me it was the only second live action cover that DC Comics ever did in their history. In that, there’s a comic that’s clearly me, and Amanda [Pays], and Alex [Desert]. In addition to that, there are interviews with the builder of the suit, and [Executive Producers] Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo. But yeah, sure, why not? It would be a trip.

Is there any more hype you’d like to share for Tuesday about just why people should tune in?

They’re throwing everything they have at this episode. The Flash does a good job of balancing heart and action. Action, adventure, big show, special effects, family drama, and interpersonal relationships.

When I read the script for the season finale, I was like, “man, they are throwing everything and the kitchen sink at this episode.” How thrilling and exciting, and how life and love affirming. People who have ever watched The Flash certainly want to want to tune in for this event.

The Flash season finale “The Heart of the Matter, Part 2” airs tonight (July 20) at 8PM ET/PT on The CW. Take a look at some newly-released photos from the season finale here!

 

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Interviews

Flash Post-Mortem: Danielle Nicolet on “Masquerade”

Interview with Danielle Nicolet about the things that happened with Cecile Horton in the Flash TV series episode “Masquerade”

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SPOILER WARNING: If you have not yet seen the June 15 episode of The Flash titled “Masquerade” read no further! You might, however, like our preview interview with Danielle Nicolet where we talk about some non-spoilery things!

The June 15 episode of The Flash was a showcase for the incredible talents of Danielle Nicolet who played multiple versions of Cecile all in one installment. When we interviewed her about this episode, there was a lot that had to be saved for after it had aired because so much was spoilery… but here we are for the scoop on what her character went through in “Masquerade!” Enjoy…

FLASHTVNEWS’ CRAIG BYRNE: Can you talk about the subtle hints that you might have put into your performance to hint that Cecile is actually not really Cecile at several points in the episode?

DANIELLE NICOLET: There are quite a few, and I’m very curious to see if the audience will notice. It may take a second watch of the episode, because there’s so much going on the first time you see it. But yes. I was very particular. I worked really hard with Rachel [Talalay, director of the episode] to decide what these little moments are. And some of it’s extremely subtle. Fake Cecile dresses in all black, which is something that up into this point, Real Cecile is not generally a leather pants-wearing [person]. Tribal jewelry, she has like a very specific necklace on, and when Chester describes the history of the Psycho Pirate mask, you can see that it moves its way through Egypt, it’s been through African tribes, and little things like that.

Each different iteration of Cecile has a different hairstyle. It’s not super obvious, but we try to do little things like that to really physically differentiate Psycho Pirate Cecile. She walks differently than Real Cecile does. So just little things like that, that are beyond just those sort of more like “winks to the camera moments” where she has a line where she’s gonna go change her outfit to do a little breaking and entering… I’m very curious to see if people notice.

Can you talk about that heist?

[Laughs] That was a lot of fun. Again, Rachel and I really did our best to collaborate on this. She wanted each of the three elements of the show – the being in the hospital with Barry, the heist aspect of things, and then when Psycho Pirate has Cecile fully in the mask and the transformation is complete… for each of them to have their own separate feel. So the hospital was shot like a horror film, The heist stuff was shot like a heist movie in the tonality, the visuals, and then the rest is shot as a traditional Flash episode.

The heist part was really, really, really fun. I enjoy repelling from the ceiling very much, even if it’s in a comedic way. There’s some neat stuff in that museum room. For example, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the original Poltergeist movie, but on one of the tables, there’s a book in that movie that in it, they go through it, and they find out about the history of the land, and the fact that the housing complex was built on an ancient Indian burial ground all of that. That same book is in that scene, and it’s open to the same page. It’s our little personal homage to horror movies. There’s lots of little stuff like that.

How awesome was it for you to see Cecile in the mask, and was it hard for you to see while the mask was on?

I had no peripheral vision, and as tough guy as I was behaving in those scenes, just know that I had to be walked to set with people holding my hands on either side of me, so as to not bump into the wall.

When you first signed on as a guest star on The Flash several years ago, did you ever expect to have such deep material and character building for Cecile?

I always knew I was signing on to a show that had really next level writing, so I certainly was hopeful. What I didn’t know when I signed on initially was that Cecile was going to end up with powers. It was right about the time that I decided that I would do the show full time; I got a call from the showrunner at the time saying “hey, I want to pitch you this notion,” and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited. I tried really hard not to scream on the phone with him, and I remember writing down on a piece of paper that I had on the dining table, in Sharpie, “THEY’RE GIVING ME POWERS” in all caps, and holding the paper up to my husband and jumping up and down, while I was trying to pretend like I was cool, calm, and collected on the phone at the same time.

What was your reaction when you read about Cecile’s backstory in this episode?

I loved it. Eric Wallace, our showrunner, had given me a heads up that this was coming for quite some time. And, boy, when I got the first draft of the script, it was even better than what he told me was coming. I just couldn’t believe it. Everything from the honest approach to mental health issues, and facing things like anxiety and depression, and the notion that we are afraid to share how we feel and that people will judge us, and so we suppress it, and we end up manifesting that anxiety and depression in other unexpected ways in our lives. That, in and of itself, is such an important message to me, just personally, I know personally to Eric, and the fact that he could take something as cool as the Psycho Pirate mask showing up on the Cecile and at the same time, have this be a story about the importance of mental health awareness and us taking care of ourselves and each other… that was, to me, it was one of the best scripts I’ve ever read. I’m so I’m so pleased, and I’m so proud that my character got to be the one who played it.

What is it like to work with an icon like Jesse L. Martin in so many scenes?

He sings all the time, just randomly, and he has no idea how amazing that is for everyone around him. So when he sings, you just sort of like sit down and let him go. [Laughs]

Jesse and I, from the moment we started working together, we’ve always just had a really good energy and vibe with each other. He’s just such a profoundly talented human being. It’s a gift to get to work with him. I’m really lucky. I get to work with some super awesome people on this show.

Did you want to say anything specific about working with Grant Gustin so much this week?

Oh, I had the time of my life. We both did. Grant knows – it’s no secret that he’s one of my top 10 favorite people on the planet. He knows how much I adore him. We really felt like we were making a little movie all by ourselves for a few days of this episode, and we both really, really enjoyed it. The few days that we were trapped in that hospital together were some of my favorite acting days on this show, in all the years that I’ve been on it.

And what was it like to be able to act opposite yourself?

Pretty challenging! [Laughs] It was really neat to learn the process of that. Our director, Rachel Talalay, is so experienced and so talented, and she allowed me to just hang around all the time, so I got to learn how we were going to do this. There is a whole other person who looks like me, and very physically similar to me, who was an amazing actress, and she learned all of my material for the entire episode, the same as me, and so, whenever I was acting to myself, this other actress was performing my lines for me, and then I would go change and turn around and do it on the other side, and then she would be the other me. And then sometimes, it had to be both of us with Grant. So, poor Grant, he had to have “me squared” at all times.

The process of how that’s done, technically, in order for it to play the way it does, was really, really neat to learn. Some of it’s like new school technical and some of it was straight up old school, like “Dani, go stand there in the corner, and we’re gonna turn the camera really fast, so that we can’t tell that that other one isn’t really you.”

Will we ever see Cecile’s older daughter Joanie again?

I hope so. I think that in the comics, Joanie is a speedster, so I imagine that there may be an opportunity for her to find her way back to the show in an in an interesting way. I really think that is an Eric Wallace question more than it is me, but he always seems to find really fantastic ways to bring characters back.

When are Joe and Cecile going to get married already?

That is a very good question that I highly recommend you run past Eric Wallace, our showrunner, who will laugh when you do, because I asked him the same question all the time.

Do you think Cecile should be the one to propose?

Oh, my gosh. Craig, that’s such a good idea! Am I allowed to steal that? Because I will one hundred percent call Eric and say “hey, guess what? How about this?” That’s such a cool idea. Yes, I definitely think that Cecile should propose.

Our thanks to Danielle Nicolet for taking the time to speak with us! New episodes of The Flash air Tuesdays on The CW.

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Crisis on Infinite Earths

The Flash: Eric Wallace Discusses Barry’s Coming Crisis

The Flash EP Eric Wallace discusses what the Crisis on Infinite Earths will mean for Barry and Iris.

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Warning: Spoilers for the Flash Season 6 premiere “Into the Void” are being discussed here.

A Crisis is coming… Crisis on Infinite Earths, that is… and on December 10, 2019… Barry Allen is destined to die. And the story engine will guide The Flash Season 6 toward exciting places.

“Crisis turned out to be the best thing that could have happened — I can’t speak for the other shows, but I certainly speak for The Flash — because it created an immediacy to things,” Executive Producer Eric Wallace recently said in a group Q&A. “We know that December 10, 2019, The Flash will die. He just said it. We’re not messing around. So as a married couple, [Barry and Iris] can count the number of days and weeks. The countdown begins next week. What kind of urgency does that give them? An extreme one. It turns the dial up to 10, and it makes you think, ‘Is every moment together our last? What can we do? Should we fight this? Is it inevitable? These are all the things that they’re grappling with for these next seven episodes, because eight ends, and it’s Crisis time, and it’s time to go off to, literally, cosmic war. So the relationship is strained. But it’s also going to bring them closer together than ever before, because that’s what tragedy does,” he continued.

And how is this different from Season 3, when they saw that Iris was destined to die?

“You should watch next week, when that exact question is asked and answered,” Wallace explained. “That is literally the plot. What this story has enabled us to do is to look back at any other time when somebody was facing life and death, and see how they reacted then. So in the writers’ room, we had a lengthy discussion about how it’s the other side of the coin. We know how they reacted with Iris. How will they react next week? And I will tell you — no spoilers — it’s different. It’s not the same, because of what they learn next week. That’s the great part of the story. The Monitor showing up and kind of making a cosmic pronouncement drives you to extremes in order to fight against or accept the coming Crisis. And every episode this season – 602, 3, 4, 5 and 6, especially — are all about, ‘Do I accept death? Or do I fight it?;’ That’s also the reason why Bloodwork is the villain this season. The villain, as we now know, has HLH cancer and is dying. So for the first time in the show’s history, we have a villain and a protagonist who are going through the same thing. It’s the reason Bloodwork was chosen as a villain this season. It was very deliberate, because they’re going to learn about halfway through the season, ‘Maybe we’re not so different? And what does that mean?”

And finally, do Barry and Oliver know about their respective interactions with The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) this season?

“No, and boy, I wonder what will happen when they both find out. [Laughs] It’s good stuff. It’s so great, ’cause I can’t tell you when it happens,” Wallace said excitedly. “But I will tell you that is a scene that happened and is a moment, and it is coming. Lets just say people might get pissed off a little,” he laughed.

The Flash airs Tuesdays on The CW.

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