They say lightning never strikes twice, but on The CW‘s “The Flash,” a pair of stray bolts both managed to grant two young men super-abilities, though they each found themselves traveling down distinctly different paths. For Barry Allen, it transformed him into the fastest man alive and Central City’s resident hero. On the other hand, lightning turned Farooq into Blackout, an energy vampire with an insatiable thirst for electricity and revenge. In tonight’s episode, “Power Outage,” the pair meet and clash — with potentially devastating results for the scarlet speedster.
Ahead of Blackout’s television debut, actor Michael Reventar spoke with CBR News about his take on DC Comics‘ character. In addition to discussing the energy vampire’s origin story, we discuss his interpretation of the Flash’s latest super-powered adversary, creating the character’s unique appearance and voice, and what Barry Allen will take away from their clash.
CBR News: It seems a number guest stars auditioned for other roles on “The Flash” and “Arrow” before landing their eventual gigs on the two series. Was that the case for you?
Michael Reventar: No, not for me — it was one and done. I literally got called to do a self-tape. Within a matter of hours, I recorded it. Six hours later, I got the part. Forty-eight hours after that, I was on set. It was crazy!
What was so cool was when I got it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Ironically, when I got the word that I got the part, there was one of the worst lightning storms in Toronto. I was literally ducking from the lightning in downtown Toronto. I ran into an alley, and that’s where I found out from my agent that I got the part.
What was your impression of the character from delving into the comic books?
I saw an opportunity. The DC Comics website basically says he is the strongest source of electricity on Earth. To me, when I saw that, I was thinking, “Oh my goodness — this guy represents some serious power.” I loved he was this new character introduced in 2011 and I had the opportunity to explore him. I did my due diligence. I spoke with the Silver Snail in Toronto. I wanted to be accurate with who he was, but at the same time, take advantage of the opportunity to solidify a performance that the fans will now use as his reference point: “That’s Blackout.”
So, who is Blackout, and how does he fit into this episode?
He’s a fun-loving young man who is enamored with this particle accelerator beam that’s been turned on. He has two friends there. In the middle of the rain, he does what every smart young man does: He climbs 65 feet up a transmission tower. In the midst of them shouting for him to come down, the accelerator explodes. He gets hit by lightning. His friends actually die, and he goes into a coma. After some time, he comes out of it.
We meet him again when an electrical power station starts to drain S.T.A.R. Labs. It’s draining at an alarming rate. Flash shows up and sees Blackout drinking from this electric substation. As he’s drinking, neighborhoods start to black out. The two of them have this exchange, Blackout hits the Flash and realizes that he can drink from him. The Flash is his own energy source because of his speed. Blackout starts to drain him dry.
That’s something that has not happened on “The Flash,” where the one who is the fastest can no longer run. Blackout’s motivation is actually to get to Dr. Harrison Wells, because he is the one who caused the accelerator explosion that killed his friends.
Blackout could easily be labeled a villain, but your description of his sounds more nuanced. How would you describe him?
To me, like any young man on a journey, they make a lot of mistakes out of zeal and being in the moment. He goes with reckless abandonment, trying to bring harm to Dr. Wells.
One of the characters actually extends an olive branch to Blackout and says, “We know you don’t want to do this,” and tries to help him. In the episode, they say Blackout is an electrical vampire. That means he’s cursed with this urge to drink electricity. That’s why that offer to help him is extended.
What was great is, I believe there is no person beyond reach. That’s just how I am. Even if I read or play a character that is dark, I never forget the humanity, that he was a little child at some point, who just wanted to ride his bike and have fun.
Can you talk about experimenting with the makeup and your voice for Blackout?
We had an incredible makeup artist from “Smallvlle,”who saw my picture. Before I got to set, she knew exactly how she was going to do my makeup. I had these contacts that were hand-painted by an artist. It took her five days straight to paint them. They are painted layer by layer, so you can’t just simply buy them overseas. When I showed up on set, the reaction I got from everyone was amazing because he’s not who you see in everyday life.
In regards to my voice, we played around with different things. The director, Larry Shaw, had three notes to hit from the producers. They said they wanted to see hero, they wanted to feel heart and they wanted to see spectacle. Larry was leaning on me to be the spectacle, so I had to play him larger-than-life. In the process of that, I lost my voice several times. It’s really humbling, too, to play this monster and then when they say, “Cut,” I’m grabbing my lemon tea and they are scurrying to put a scarf on you.
Since visual effects are added in post-production, in that first take, was it hard committing to having electrical bolts exploding from your hands?
Not at all. Maybe for some, but not for me. That’s what I love. I’ve made my mark in this business because when I go, I go for it with everything. I don’t warm up to it — I just do it. I believe there is a power in the choice. Anything I choose to do, because I’ve decided, it’s going to happen. I bring that philosophy to set. If the director tells me to cartwheel a thousand times and go down a hill at the same time, he’ll get that from me.
What do you feel the Flash took away from his run-in with Blackout?
The Flash took away an even more personal realization of who he is. There’s something about coming into a power, something new and you embrace it and you use it. Then when you lose it, you realize you didn’t know what you had until it was gone.
There is no Flash unless it’s Barry Allen. What we love about both of them is the heart of Barry Allen. What he realizes is who he is, and his intention to make the world a better place.
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