The Flash Spoilers: Tom Cavanagh on Being The Reverse Flash, Two Sides of Harrison Wells

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Yes, we now know the identity of The Reverse Flash.

During The CW day at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour last weekend, Tom Cavanagh - who plays Harrison Wells - admitted that he is the mysterious man who is actually faster than Barry Allen ... and is also responsible to some degree for the death of Barry's mother.

What other details did Cavanagh, his cast mates and the writers say about his alter ego on the popular Arrow spin-off? Well, not much.

It’s a good thing,then, that I had the chance to sit down with Cavanagh to see what he could tell me about this new information and what we’ll see moving forward. Is The Reverse Flash purely evil? Or is there more to his plans that may actually be for something good?

The Flash Season 1 Episode 10 airs tonight and, in the meantime, let’s see what Cavanagh can tease about what we’ll see next.

Interesting - The Flash Season 1 Episode 8

TV Fanatic: The Reverse Flash news is out there.

Tom Cavanagh: Yeah, I’m the Reverse Flash. It’s funny because there are still ways to go. In [The Flash Season 1 Episode 9], you never see him in the suit. And I think they did that on purpose but one of the nice things about [the writers] is they aren’t really interested, and this is a perfect example, of teasing people. Up until now, it’s been nice to have that. It hasn’t been what I would call a tease, it’s been a storyline and if I were a viewer, I’d be interested in that. I would be like, ‘what’s going on?’ I think that’s deft screenwriting and then at some point…like when you have a girl and a guy and it’s a will they/won’t they thing and that’s okay for a bit but after a while it becomes too annoying.

What’s nice about this show and not just my character, or characters in particular, but rather the whole thing is they come out swinging. We’re not just mimicking the pilot every week. There’s new developments. I liken it to when you actually buy a hard copy, a fiscal comic book, and you open it up, you have rewards in there from cover to cover and that’s what we’re trying to do with each episode. So it’s not just ‘stay tuned next week and we didn’t really add anything to it.’ They’re telling full stories, they’re having explosions, they’re having heart, they’re having some humor and it’s done every week and it’s done on purpose by Greg [Berlanti] and Andrew [Kreisberg] and Geoff [Johns]. It’s good because you’re giving people their money’s worth, so to speak.

TVF: Harrison is a great character because he is someone that we’re trying to figure him out. Even Oliver had a comment in the crossover.

TC: Yeah, ‘I don’t trust that son of a bitch.’

TVF: We have seen him do some villainous things so…

TC:  The one component of all of that and it’s really delicious is he doesn’t do things we’d construe as bad because he wants to do bad things. The Reverse Flash has a massive agenda and in many ways his agenda is helpful in expanding The Flash’s powers, beliefs and The Flash’s reach, which is good for mankind, it’s good for The Flash and good for the Reverse Flash. It’s not just him twirling a mustache and saying ‘Oh, I’m going to do mean things!’ It’s all justified.

The way I approach it is here’s a man who, like all of us, is trying to get whole, who is trying to reach his potential. So when you ask is the guy good or bad, there are arguments for both. That’s what is a boon to play as an actor. He’s both!

TVF: How much does redemption play a part in what Harrison does? He is responsible for a lot of what’s happened with everyone. Does that play a part in what he’s doing?

TC: I think there’s redemption in as much as pride is involved. Because everyone wants to be seen for their merits and for their abilities and I think when we join The Flash, that is not the case with Harrison Wells. I think that’s a nice starting point. They’re knocked down and they have to get back up and so I don’t know if redemption is the right word exactly but it does fit in with all the furthering that he is trying to do personally, with The Flash and Central City. It’s all intertwined together. You can’t really separate one from the other. That’s not really known to everybody when we join The Flash but it becomes more a part of the discussions as we progress.

I think it’s smart. I think they’ve taken something that is…I don’t know if smart would be the first thing that comes to mind but certainly smart in terms of what I get to do. It’s intelligently drawn out, and so you have to approach it with that and give it some respect and it makes it really fun to play. All the lines, all the tiny little things, the little character peccadillos that I’ve done, people will look back on them now. Like when he takes the glasses off, it’s like ‘Oh, he’s wasn’t cleaning his glasses!’ That’s happened a number of times in every episode but people didn’t notice but if they were to go back they would say ‘interesting!’

When I approach him, who he really is is not Harrison Wells. He is that but I’d say closer to home is who he is as The Reverse Flash. That makes it delicious to play because then you have to ask, how much is cover? How much is acting? How much is really him as Harrison trying to solve a  scientific problem? That’s true, too. He uses his intelligence to further his agenda. That in many ways is the Harrison Wells persona.

The Flash Season 1 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW. 

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of Follow him on Twitter.

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