Berlanti, the executive producer of both “Arrow” and the new CW series starring the Scarlet Speedster, is almost as swift a multi-tasker as Barry Allen himself, bringing the highly anticipated new superhero drama to the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills to preview it for an audience of excited fans.
Along the way, he made a stop on the red-carpeted arrival line to give Comic Book Resources a one-on-one update about finding “The Flash’s” legs now that the creative team has the first few episodes up and running. He also acknowledges the early buzz surrounding a potential “Supergirl” series he plans to have a hand in, as well as deciding Matt Nable is the right Ra’s al Ghul for “Arrow” — with all due respect to Liam Neeson.
Comic Book Resources: Tell us what you’ve discovered about the show from the process of making several episodes, as opposed to where you started with the pilot. What have been the fun discoveries along the way?
Greg Berlanti: The fun discovery is that I think, with any TV show, ultimately, it’s about character, not about set pieces or events or powers. It really is about, “Are these interesting characters?” And that fusion, that thing doesn’t happen until we start watching the dailies and the cuts and seeing what the actors are doing with the roles. Then that leads to a thousand other ideas.
Has Grant Gustin’s portrayal affected how your team writes Barry Allen and Flash? What has he brought to the role?
I think that we’re not afraid to write really emotional, smart, intelligent, fun, funny [material] — I mean, the scenes can go to all these places, because he has such a broad talent, and he’s one of those actors you don’t really give acting notes. You just get these scenes back, and they’re always great. All our actors are like that on this one. It’s weird. They’re however many thousands of miles away, and we get these scenes back, and they’re better than we imagined in our mind.
Tell me, maybe even using “Arrow” as a point of comparison, how is the balance of the individual episodes and the overarching stories going to play out in general? Is it going to be sort of standalone for a bit, as the long-play plotlines kick in?
I think always both. But yeah, you need the raison d’etre of the episode, and you’re broadening out the characters while you’re doing that, you’re broadening out the storylines while you’re doing that. You’re sort of watching where the stories kind of feel like they’re going, what’s been more successful than other things, what’s intriguing to you, how fast can we move story through it. You’re always learning a lot at the beginning of a show.
For the Rogues, now that you have some faces to attach to those characters, are you’re discovering what you’re take’s going to be?
The thing I can say story-wise about it is, you know, they’re not the Rogues as we know them, any more than Barry’s yet the Flash as we know the Flash.
You know, there’s always an evolution, so we’ll be evolving their characters. And they’re the first, in a lot of ways, villains outside of the Flash, outside of our main characters, where we really break away and get into their lives and that kind of thing. And Wentworth [Miller] is brilliant in the role [of Captain Cold]. I can’t wait for people to see his delivery and who he is. I really think he has the essence of that guy.
Can you say anything at this point about the Supergirl TV rumors that we heard this week?
I’m not allowed. Yeah, we’re just starting to work on it. We haven’t gone to the networks yet, so. I’ll be happy, very excited to talk about it once we know where its home will be and that kind of stuff, but not at this moment.
Overall, how many of these shows would you love to have at least some kind of creative hand in, translating the DC characters to television? Do you think you could handle maybe four or five shows on the air, at any given point?
Well, I don’t know. You know, the networks have certain needs and the studio has certain needs and I just try and kind of follow one character at a time, and I’m always, with all of them, to be quite honest, working with other great partners, so I don’t really feel like and never been or pretended to be the kind of showrunner that’s just off doing it all on my own. It’s more about how sometimes you’re intimately involved in the break of a series of episodes. Or, at other times, it’s more I’m kind of like an uncle who’s just watching over other people. I’m always going to be excited to be involved in this kind of stuff in any way I can be, whether it’s TV or movies. Again, hopefully those things see the light of day.
Your Ra’s al Ghul casting for “Arrow” — tell us about that, how you landed on Matt Nable.
Performance, performance, performance. You know, I think we have a great history that we enjoy with the show, and when you have a character like that, the character is the name [value]. We just look for who feels the best for what we imagine in our head, and we knew we wanted someone who felt very different than Slade Wilson felt, because that was sort of a two-year build up. We had a whole different kind of vibe that we wanted, and Matt Nable is that. I can’t wait for people to see him do it.
I know everything exists in separate universes as far as TV DC and film DC worlds go, but did you hear that Liam Neeson was like, “I’d consider doing it if they called me.”
I heard it! You know, I think he’s very gracious to make that comment, but we were really blessed to find our Ra’s al Ghul.