Spoilers ahead for the Season 2 finale of The Flash!
Even though Henry Allen was killed last season by Zoom, John Wesley Shipp is still very much a part of The Flash. That’s because the actor also portrays Jay Garrick, the Earth-3 Doppelgänger of Henry Allen and, not so incidentally, the Flash of his world.
The character is due to return in the second episode of the third season of The Flash, which returns Tuesday at 8 p.m. on the CW. Barry Allen’s decision at the end of last season to go back in time and save his mother has had massive ramifications that will likely play out throughout the season.
That gives Shipp, who was the original TV Flash back in the 1990 CBS series, the chance to interact with star Grant Gustin again. But as Shipp told Blastr during our interview, Jay Garrick may be Henry Allen’s doppelgänger, but he’s not Henry Allen. Which means Garrick’s relationship with Barry is much different. And while Shipp loves playing Henry Allen, playing the Earth-3 Flash gives him a welcome challenge.
Check out the interview below, and share your thoughts in the comments.
It has to feel nice to have superpowers again, as Jay Garrick, doesn’t it?
Yes! It’s a totally different thing. What’s also nice is that Grant and I get to learn each other as actors all over again. Because Jay is very different [from Henry]. Jay is not the shoulder you can lean on in a time of a moment of vulnerability.
Jay is a kick in the ass. ‘So you want to be a superhero? And I look like your dad? Sorry about that.’ Big boy rules.
Grant and I just laugh when we’re running lines. Because it’s so .. I’ll have a reaction [as Jay] that Henry would never have. And Grant will just start laughing, because it’s so different. It’s great fun, actually.
What can you tell us about Season Three of The Flash and your role — or roles to be more specific— in the story?
The promotional materials have gone out, I think, showing me as the idealized Henry Allen who never had to go to prison. We’re doing ‘Flashpoint’ and there’s also been photos of me suited up as Jay Garrick. The fun thing for me going forward is that I get to …(laughs) I continue to spin out into different evolutions in this universe, from voicing Professor Zoom (in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold), playing Henry Allen, and now I’m playing Jay Garrick. It’s kind of blowing my mind a little bit. It’s an awesome situation for me as an actor to be in, racing into this third season.
We know ‘Flashpoint’ is going to cause massive changes to this universe and that we’ll variations on characters we’ve come to know quite well these past two seasons. Given that, is there a chance we’ll get to see you play Jay Garrick and Henry Allen in the same episode?
That has come up as a possibility. I think now, anything is possible. That’s a definite possibility.
You’re a guy with soap opera experience (note: Shipp is a two-time Daytime Emmy winner), so playing two characters on the same show, in the same episode, seems right up your alley.
Isn’t it awesome? There is a great crossover and energy with the soaps audience and the comic book audience. Ongoing serialized drama…of course we have superhuman .. well, we did back then, too [on soap operas]. The audience energy though, its very much the same. it’s great!
Where do we find Barry at the beginning of Season 3? Is he happy with the changes he's brought about?
I can’t tell very much, but what you can tell in the promos that have been released is that, here comes mom and dad down the steps, and he’s like, ‘aw gosh, this is what I always wanted!’ But clearly, and as Henry told him this back in prison, No. You can’t go back and change time. There are unintended consequences. Things happen the way they do for a reason. Even Henry warned against it. And those consequences will reverberate throughout the season, that every character will be dealing with.
Henry Allen’s ‘death’ scene last season was such a powerful moment. And it really crystallizes what so many fans love about this show. Your scenes with Grant Gustin are a great example of the chemistry that makes those character moments as important as the CGI action scenes. how strong is that connection now, entering your third season?
I have to tell you, it was something special from the beginning, but it was really built in. I mean, Grant knew I had played the Flash, and I knew what he was going through. I hoped he would have the success that we just missed. In other words, going for more than one season. It helps that I like him so much as a human being. Everybody falls in love with Grant, you know? He’s a fine actor.
Then you put that together in the context of an emotionally rich storyline — Henry Allen’s in prison, Barry is the only person who believes he’s innocent — it was all there. It was all set up. I have to say, the scenes the writers gave us to play…the mining of the father-son relationship … they were such beautiful scenes. One thing the writers have done so well is, they’ve taken fan expectations coming out of the former Flash show and brought them to the current Flash and used them to color the relationships.
The fact that I played Barry Allen [before] helped me play Henry Allen better. And now that I’ve been grounded in a very real portrayal of Henry Allen, I can now go back and do something I NEVER thought I would do again, which is put on another superhero suit.
You were the first actor to wear The Flash suit on a TV series. Now you’re the Earth-3 Flash. Which costume is more comfortable to wear?
Oh my God, hands down, the new one! The suit can be washed, it’s not nearly as hot, it’s so much easier to wear. So much easier.
We know the annual CW superhero crossover is happening again. Now that you have powers, as Jay Garrick of Earth-3, will you be a part of it? Is it correct to assume you want to be part of it?
I would love to. They’re structuring our contracts so we can be moved like chess pieces across all of these shows and multiple earths. I would love to go over to the other shows and get in the sandbox and play with those guys. my good friend Victor Garber is on one of them (Legends of Tomorrow), I’ve known him for many years. I have no indication as of this moment that that is going to happen. But it can happen if basically, our boss decides that it would be useful to do that. The possibility is there.
Is that a nice thing for an actor to have, this shared universe experience where people like Wentworth Miller can sign a deal to be the special guest villain across the Arrow-verse? Is it nice to have that flexibility?
It’s fantastic! It’s great. It doesn’t get monotonous, because you never know what you’re going to do next, or who you’re going to be doing it with. It’s a great time to be an actor on a comic book TV show, and it’s a great time to be a fan of the comic book medium, isn’t it?
Season 3 of The Flash premieres Tuesday night at 8 on the CW.