Behind every solo superhero is a supporting cast that makes him who he is. For the scarlet speedster known as the Flash, a big part of that is Iris West – both in comics and in adaptations. With the debut of the CW series The Flash earlier this month, Mississippi actress Candice Patton stepped into the role of Iris West and quickly showed she’s more than just a bride-to-be, a damsel in distress, or dilettante filling a role – instead a fast-talking journalist with a curiosity that is prone to get her into trouble. Patton’s West is the best friend of Barry Allen (aka the Flash), and also the daughter of the police detective Joe West, played by Law & Order’s Jesse L. Martin.
Patton comes to this role on The Flash after a flurry of guest roles in primetime television as well as a prolonged part in The Game, also on the CW. Newsarama talked with Patton while she was in Vancouver filming The Flash, and discussed the life Iris West has led in comics and how she’s balancing that without overshadowing the direction of Iris in the television series. The 26 year old actress also talked about her interest in getting in on the action scenes with the Flash, and consulting with Geoff Johns on portraying her character accurately.
Newsarama: Candice, what is it like for you to take this role as Iris West and be plunged into the burgeoning genre of superhero television and movies?
Candice Patton: It’s exciting but a little overwhelming at the same time. I didn’t foresee how big the fanbase for The Flash is, but I quickly learned. It’s exciting to step into a world that has passionate fans.
Nrama: Only two episodes of The Flash have aired thus far, and we didn’t get to see enough of you on screen. Is there a particular episode coming up that you’re particularly excited about your character’s role in?
Patton: I think in all the episodes we shot, you learn about each character more and what they are pursuing in life. I’ve done great scenes for Iris: Iris and Barry, Iris and her dad, as well as Iris and Eddie. That’s a very complicated situation, with Barry changing and Iris slowly falling in love with Eddie… while also Iris’ relationship with her dad is changing. There are a lot of good scenes for my character.
Nrama: In comics, Iris West and Barry Allen have a long history together – but here in TV, you’re just getting started. What do you say to the idea of your TV character following in the footsteps of the comic stories?
Patton: I’m very aware of the history between Iris West and Barry Allen, as well as where they ultimately end up in comics. To some degree it does play a part in how I interpret the scripts, but I personally have no idea where the TV show’s creators and producers will go. We’re hoping for a lot of seasons, but we can’t get there by next Tuesday. At the end of the day, the creators and writers want to give long-time Flash fans something they’ll want to see. So far we’ve stayed pretty true to the comics, but I don’t know what will happen ultimately.
Nrama: I know Flash is the superhero here, but would you be up for doing action scenes and saving people’s lives in the show at some point?
Patton: [laughs] Yeah, I would love to do all that stuff. It’s fun working with special effects and getting to kick butt, and in some degree Iris does that already. She’s a strong, brave woman who is also very curious and that puts her in dangerous situations; her proximity to the Flash also puts her in dangerous situations.
If you’re asking if Iris will have superpowers? I doubt it, but I don’t know.
Nrama: I know you’re still in the first season here, but is there anyone in the cast or crew that you’ve befriended in particular when not shooting scenes?
Patton: We only hang out with each other. [laughs] It’s harder for Grant as he’s working all the time, but we all get along really well. I was out with Rick [Cosnett, who plays Eddie Thawne] and Jesse [L. Martin, who plays Detective Joe West] last night, and we hope to spend Thanksgiving together. We don’t know a lot of people here in Vancouver, so we’ve all bonded.
Nrama: In preparing for your role or particular scripts, has any of the staff given you particular Iris West stories from comics to better know the character?
Patton: I’ve never been given notes about reading specific comics; for us, it’s really about the script. Geoff Johns is here and he’s read everything, and he, Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti know the comics and know what they’re trying to achieve. I can’t speak for everyone, but I rely 95% on the scripts given to me; there’s so much in the scripts, and that’s the most important thing for me to perform.
I do read the comics however, and I am a fan. I just don’t use them to inform the scripts that much.
Nrama: What comics are you reading?
Patton: The older Flash stuff now. Jesse went down to DC’s offices in Los Angeles recently, and I asked him to bring me back some comics. He brought back two omnibuses and I’ve been digging through them in my free time; but that’s few and far between.
The Flash airs on The CW at 8pm, 7 Central on Tuesdays