Barry Allen always needs something to come running back to after his adventures as the Flash, and actress Candice Patton’s take on Iris West will be the scarlet speedster’s proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” on The CW’s new superhero series.
In a one-on-one conversation with Comic Book Resources, Patton discusses her breakthrough role as the comic book hero’s longtime love, including her surprise at just how high-profile her gig has become. She also describes her anticipation over interacting with fans and her excitement over her color-blind casting.
Comic Book Resources: There’s so much buzz and anticipation for this show. Have you ever been involved in anything like this?
Candice Patton: No! I mean, this is probably the biggest thing I’ve done to date, so it’s really exciting. I’ve been guest starring for so long, and you hear so many nos. You get so close to so many things. And so for this to be the first series that I’m on, it’s a dream come true. I mean, this is everything I could ever imagine for my first series.
When it started being a reality for you, did you have any idea that “The Flash” would have that kind of draw coming off of “Arrow” and what’s happening with the superhero world?
I didn’t understand how popular it was, but when I booked the job and they did the press release and my Twitter kind of blew up, I was kind of like, “What is this? What is this fandemonium?” I slowly started to realize, “Oh, I’m on ‘The Flash.'” This is iconic, and I’m part of that. My life will never be the same after this. It’s scary and exciting all at the same time.
As an actor, are you a research nerd? Did you look at the mythology closely?
Well, here’s the thing: It’s based on a DC comic, so it’s not by the book of how fans will know the Flash, but yeah, I did a little research. I went to my local comic book store, and I read up on some Flash comics, just to get a tone and a feel of what fans who’ve grown up with these comics love about the Flash. But I didn’t want to get too research-heavy because it’s new and it’s modern. The producers and writers have a new idea for this Flash, and I want to be open to that.
Were you very excited to realize the color-blind casting for Iris? You have a chance to play the character without having to look exactly like the person in the comic.
Well, when I went in for that, I had no idea that Iris West wasn’t black. It wasn’t until I booked it, and then I saw some fans were a little upset and I realized that Iris was really a Caucasian person. It’s a tricky thing — I know fans want to see the characters that they grew up with, but I think what I found that I love about comics is that they’re constantly being reinvented and reimagined. This is just another facet of that.
What do you love about Iris?
What I love about Iris, and what I’m trying to incorporate more in my life is, she’s so positive and so fun-loving. I think she always finds the light at the end of the tunnel, and she’s that for Barry: She’s the light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what he’s dealing with every day, as Barry or the Flash, at the end of the day, he comes home and Iris is still that kind of light in his life. That’s what I’m learning to remember in my own life.
What have been some of the unexpected surprises of working on the show as it’s finding its legs and moving forward?
The surprises are, it’s fun! I really love this cast of people. It’s just a good, grounded group of actors, and we’re so excited to be a part of this show. Every day, we show up to work trying to make the best show we can because we know fans are expecting that. It’s nice to work with actors who take it seriously and also are having a really good time being at work.
As you get closer to interacting with the fans, it’s got to be both a little exciting and intimidating. What does it mean to get closer to the people who have such passion for these characters?
I love it! I have no trepidations about that! I think the fans are amazing, and the more I can meet them and learn what they love about the Flash, I’m excited to do that. I’m so lucky to even be a part of this show, to give them a piece of that is my gift to them. I’m more than happy to do it.
What was it like, getting your chemistry going with Grant Gustin?
Easy! Well, the great thing about when I auditioned for this: I got to read with Grant, and that’s what made it so easy. We instantly had a chemistry and a friendship. I think it’s because we have a common sensibility and a common sense of humor, so that shows up on screen very easily for us.
Did they test that out on you before you were cast?
For sure. I think they were mostly looking for chemistry between Barry and Iris, and when we got in the room together, it just worked. It was very easy, is what I can say. It was just easy.
Although it doesn’t really play into Iris’s comics history, would you love to get into costume and do some superhero-ing yourself?
I’m not going to lie: I would love it. Come on! Put me in leather. Give me some kind of superpower. I would love it! I mean, I know we probably won’t go down that route, but listen, I’m not going to turn it down!