Tonight on The Flash, Harrison Wells will team up with himself -- again -- but this time in a slightly different way: the "Council of Wells" will convene, bringing various versions of the character from across the multiverse together to try to assess the problem of The Thinker, who last week got his hands on one of the "bus metas" that he and The Flash have both been tracking.
The two key players in that drama -- Tom Cavanagh, who plays Wells on the series, and Carlos Valdes, who plays Vibe (the character who can reach through to other Earths for help) -- joined reporters on set last week to talk about tonight's episode.
"It was almost too much, you know. It was a very overwhelming process," admitted Valdes. "Obviously, Tom is very good at riffing on this particular character and letting us see different shades of Wells, but this just goes so over the top in such a gratifying way....When we shoot different versions, actors being different versions of the same character, it takes time. You gotta get into the makeup, any sort of prosthetic or costumes and stuff like that. That takes time. You do the take with Tom, and there's stand-ins standing in for the other versions of Tom. And then once you do that coverage, you've got to wait 40 minutes for Tom to get processed into another character, and then you shoot that coverage, and then you do that five times, you know. So you have to keep that tiny scene fresh in your mind for hours while you get all that done. But I'll say this: For as long as it took, he sure made it a lot of fun, just constantly improvising and riffing. I think people will dig it a lot."
As for his process in creating the new Wellses, Cavanagh invoked the name of The Boss himself -- and here's a guy who has never even been in a penultimate episode of Arrow! -- in explaining it.
"I remember Steve Van Zandt saying that Bruce Springsteen always has a number of songs in the scrapbook, ready to go. Steve’s quote was, 'It’s really annoying,'" said Cavanagh. "I’m that way with characters. I have a number of them. It’s just a question of, 'Well, do we want ten? Do we want two?' We had a number of them at first. I was like, 'Listen, the show The Flash should be about the Flash, and not about Wells. So, what will happen is if we do ten, we will end up cutting all their stuff because we can only really afford to have three or four scenes in this arc.' We thought it best that we pare it down. We went from 10 to six to four, or so. And, so, I think it’s unfortunate the Russian didn’t see the light of day. But, if this show keeps going, there will be plenty of time. I had a bunch of those ready last year when we searched for H.R. I threw the steampunk guy, and the mime guy, and Hells Well, the Texan. Once again, another exercise in shamelessness that went so well that we decided to expand. Business is booming when it comes to the Wells."
As for the ones that didn't make it into the series yet, and how to differentiate the ones he has already played? Well, the Scrubs and Ed veteran has thoughts on that, too:
"When I do different characters on the show, my goal is to try and fill gaps that we have, and openings we have on the show," Cavanagh said. "So, in the first year, we didn’t have a daily antagonist. We had the main, over-arching antagonist, which was the Reverse-Flash, which I played. In the second year, we didn’t really have that as much, at least not a comic-book regular the way the Reverse-Flash is. So, I introduced Harry, who is kind of socially awkward and difficult and antagonist, but ultimately a good guy at heart. At least it had some grit and conflict in our daily rapport and within the cortex in S.T.A.R Labs and so on and so forth. They made it nice for someone to be antagonizing Snow and Ramone. Then, in the third season, I thought we could do a little more comedy here, so H.R. was created."
He teased that there were German and Australian Wellses that didn't fly, plus a Playboy-inspired version that was meant as a nod to the recently-deceased Hugh Hefner.
"And then, they play off each other," Cavanagh said. "I could do that all day and did do it all day. Unfortunately, one of the casualties was “Wells the Gray Gandalf guy basically throwing out non sequiturs. But, it was more to my liking than to a television show like The Flash. All that stuff ended up on the cutting room floor, which we thought it would. There’s room for Wells the Gray down the line, in season 17, when I really will be gray."
The Flash airs on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.