Grant Gustin, who will debut as Barry Allen on the CW drama Arrow beginning this week, joined the show's producers to reveal details about his version of The Flash — including why it was decided to make the comic book character so young.
A Glee alum, Gustin will appear on Arrow for two episodes beginning Dec. 4, playing the genius scientist who eventually turns into the speedster. Executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg said Barry first encounters main character Oliver Queen when he shows up to investigate an unexplained robbery at Queen's family company, Queen Consolidated.
"Barry is very interested in the unexplained for reasons we will find out over the course of these two episodes," Kreisberg told reporters Monday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The producers acknowledged that Gustin has a younger look than might be expected for The Flash, but said Berlanti suggested dialogue be added to the show to address it.
"The thing that was important to us was that he really should be a contrast to Oliver and to Stephen [Amell, who plays Queen]," Berlanti said. "Stephen is the traditional square-jawed, muscle-bound hero. That works really well, because he needs all that. One of the things about Flash is he's a random guy who gets struck by lightning. He needs the bolt of lightning to be a hero in a way Stephen doesn't."
The contrast between the two characters will go beyond just the age and physical differences. "Barry's outgoing and funny, a little bit unsure of himself and smart and sort of a squeaky wheel," Kreisberg said. "The contrast between Stephen and Grant is both comical and fun and has been really great to watch."
Gustin said he was drawn to how "likable" Barry's character was, and is portraying him as "funny and endearing." He said he wasn't referring to "any Flash that I knew about or had seen," because he wasn't familiar with the character.
Berlanti said the casting of Gustin was instrumental to the introduction of The Flash — and the plans for the spin-off Flash series (which is getting its own standalone pilot for CW).
"Had we not found Grant, I'm not sure we would've done the character," Berlanti said.
Originally, the Flash series was set to have a "backdoor" pilot in the spring as part of the 20th episode of Arrow, but those plans were scrapped in favor of a standalone pilot. Will Barry Allen still be part of the Arrow 20th episode? "We're still trying to figure that out," Kreisberg admitted, reasoning that there were fewer complications in switching to a normal pilot order. "In some ways this has freed us to take the Flash and just do the Flash separately and stay on a straight line."
However, Barry will still be referred to during the remaining Arrow season, as viewers find out "what happened to him in the way that you’re hearing now about Star Labs on the periphery" and "in terms of Felicity, since she has a connection with him."
That connection between Felicity (played by Emily Bett Rickards) and Barry Allen has been hinted about before as "flirty," with indications that the two actors had a chemistry screen test before Gustin was hired.
"It's something we were talking about when we were trying to figure out how we were going to bring [Barry Allen] in [to the show]," Kreisberg said. "We spent a lot of time talking about Barry even before the pilot aspect...the fact that Barry and Felicity are so similar and they're both uncomfortable in their own skin and both are likable and personable, it seemed they would instantly hit it off, which would complicate things for Oliver even more. It felt like the right way to go."