The group discussed Barry Allen's TV future, how the young, scrawny look that Gustin brings to the table is actually something producers wanted and the impact of his appearance on Oliver's relationship with Felicity.
Below, please find the first chunk of the interview, the rest of which will be running later in the day.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead for tomorrow's episode of Arrow--although nothing you couldn't piece together yourself if you've read any other interviews.
NOTE: It was Geoff Johns, not Greg Berlanti, who joked about John Wesley Shipp being "The Flash of Earth-2." We apologize for the initial error.
What kind of person is Barry Allen, and why he's coming to Starling City?
Kreisberg: Barry comes to Starling City because there's an unexplained robbery at Queen Consolidated. Barry is very interested in the unexplained for reasons that we will find out over the course of these two episodes but he's the opposite of Oliver in a lot of ways. Barry's outgoing and funny and a little bit unsure of himself and smart and sort of a squeaky wheel and the contrast between Stephen and Grant is both comical and fun and has been really great to watch.
Grant, what did you get about Barry when you read for them?
Gustin: I immediately thought he was really funny and endearing and I hadn't done anything like that and I had a lot of fun with that throughout the audition process. They started steering me in that direction immediately: "Just have fun with it," and [I] kind of took it from there, I guess.
What did you like about him?
Gustin: He's fun to play--he's likable. I would be his friend. I haven't had the opportunity to play a character that I would enjoy spending time with, so that's nice.
Was the Felicity romance always something that was in the cards, or when did that come into play?
Kreisberg: It was just something we were talking about when we were trying to figure out how we were going to bring him in. We spent a lot of time talking about Barry and even before the pilot aspects, just sort of how we were going to introduce him in these episodes. Especially how the season had been going, talking about Oliver and Felicity and their growing feelings for each other, the fact that Barry and Felicity are so similar and they're both sort of a little bit uncomfortable in their own skin and both very likable and personable, it just seemed like they would instantly hit it off which would just complicate things for Oliver even more and that felt like the way to go.
One of the things we did when we were testing some of the finalists was that Emily Bett Rickards came down to read and the minute we saw her read with Grant, it was a done deal.
Berlanti: Yeah, we wanted to make sure he didn't seem like jail bait next to her.
Gustin: I am older than her!
Can you talk about what role Barry plays in how Oliver and Felicity's relationship will play out after this episode?
Kreisberg: I think for Oliver, Oliver isn't quite sure what he feels. He knows he feels something for her, but he can't quite define it, and I think he's sort of surprised to find in this episode when Dig points out to him that what you're feeling right now might actually be termed jealousy.
For Felicity, I think she doesn't want to like Oliver, in a way, because she finds him unattainable, and in a way, he is unattainable, especially when you saw the end of Episode 6 where he said "It's better if I'm not with somebody I care about." So I think that while she really does like Barry, I think she probably throws even more into it, because now he's somebody who is available.
And Barry being as smart as he is--becuase of, as we have some small allusion to, is familiar with liking somebody who doesn't like you back, which is something that probably will be explored further down the road. He sees that about her. It's certainly something we pick up in Episode ten, because the fallout from Episode nine carries over into the next episodes, as far as the Oliver and Felicity relationship is concerned. Barry has a profound effect on them, and that will carry through.
We've seen The Flash a few other times before on screen. Grant, do you have a favorite past portrayal?
Gustin: To be honest, I've never seen anybody else portray The Flash. The last time a series was around, I was an infant. [Both John Wesley Shipp and I] are from Norfolk, Virginia, which is strange. Not that many people are. Our birthdays are a week apart...it is sort of strange, I guess.
Johns: He's the Flash of Earth 2.
Gustin: I haven't seen anyone else portray The Flash which was something that I thought was really fun about this once they got excited about me. I'm a superhero fan; I'm a big Superman fan growing up and I've always been a big superhero fan. To even have the opportunity to audition for this blew my mind and to have them get excited about it was really cool but I wasn't trying to be any Flash that I knew about or I had seen becuase I really didn't have that much knowledge in that category I guess so it was fun to have them get excited about my random take on Barry Allen.
How much did you discuss how Gustin's youthful looks would change perceptions of Barry Allen when we first meet him? Obviously they reference it in the episode.
Kreisberg: It was actually Greg [who] had us add a lot of those lines. It is an elephant in the room and so we addressed it. We'd always sort of seen him as being a little bit younger and the thing that was important to us more than anything is that he really should be a contrast to Oliver and to Stephen, and Stephen is sort of the more traditional square-jawed, muscle-bound hero and that works very well because he needs all that.
One of the things about The Flash is that he's a random guy who gets struck by lightning. He needs the bolt of lightning to be a hero in a way Stephen doesn't need the bolt of lightning.
Have you been training at all?
Gustin: Yes. Yeah, I have. I started training a month ago I guess and will continue for the next, I guess, onward.