The Flash: John Wesley Shipp Reflects on His Speedster Legacy

Despite the best efforts of Team Flash, the Godspeed War is only getting worse which means it's an all-speedsters-on-deck moment for The Flash's Season 7 finale, "Heart of the Matter, Part 2". That means fans will once again see actor John Wesley Shipp suit up as Jay Garrick on The CW series, something that may have seemed unlikely at the end of "Crisis on Infinite Earths". Previously, Jay had been The Flash of Earth-3, a world seemingly destroyed in the Multiverse-changing event. But late last year, Shipp confirmed he was returning to The Flash and now, with that return here, Shipp is reflecting his legacy playing not only the beloved original Flash but his long career as speedsters generally.

"It's the most improbably, unexpected situation that I find myself in," Shipp told ComicBook.com. "A friend of mine was talking the other day, they said, 'Yeah, you're the only actor that, as big as comic book entertainment has gotten that's played every iteration.' I've been Barry. I've been Zoom on Batman: The Brave and The Bold. I've been Barry's father. I've been Jay Garrick. I've come back as Flash-90. To have been associated, on and off, throughout my career interspersed with Broadway, with other prime-time shows like Dawson's Creek... We all know the resume. But to have this thread running through where, in 2021, I get to come back to this show and contribute in a meaningful way, it blows my mind."

Shipp went on to discuss how the audience has great enthusiasm for the character of Jay Garrick, comparing it to the way daytime television fans are devoted to the characters on the shows they watch, something that he as an actor benefits from.

"I correspond with the audience members who write on social media, who write to me, and it's always amazing to me the degree of enthusiasm that they have for this old guy. It's like, 'Come on. Let's stuff him in a superhero suit one more time.' I got a dose of this when I started in daytime TV. Daytime TV fans are fans for life," Shipp said. "They knew these characters. They knew who they were. They knew what they would or would not do. They would call you on something if you broke a sacred rule that had been set up by the storyline over the decades. Well, comic book fans are also that way and so I'm benefiting from this enormous amount of love and respect that they have for Jay. Part of it is me, and I'm grateful for that, and I own that affirmation, but part of it is they love Jay and they love the legacy. I think that's one thing that Eric Wallace and our producers and Greg Berlanti are really tapping into, is the legacy. I just read on Instagram, I think we're going to have one scene with eight speedsters. That's not counting the Godspeeds. We're going to have some kick-butt in this finale, which I think the audience has been waiting for for some time, you know?"

But it isn't just fans that love Jay Garrick. Shipp loves the character as well, particularly for what he represents as a hero from another time - and one that shows that you don't have to be young to be a superhero.

"Well, it's that he's from another time. It's that he's current, he's today, but he's really from another time," Shipp said about what interests him about Jay. "This was in the last episode when the Godspeeds were surrounding Bart. We stand up and we're facing the Godspeeds and we have a ring around Bart. The line was going to be, 'I say we give them hell, Barry.' We all discussed that and I said, 'Given who Jay is, and he's Golden Age, and he's got the doughboy hat...' Everything about Jay is Golden Age and I said, 'What if I say, 'I say we give him heck, Barry'?' and they went with it."

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He added, I just thought, it's little things like that that differentiate Jay from the time that he finds himself in. But he has the accumulated wisdom of having been a... He's not the best speedster, as we know anymore, but it's the benefit of wisdom. I got to tell you, I appreciate the CW and Warner Bros... and this is something that our designer said that she really appreciated the fact that The CW was telling our young audience that you don't have to be 20 years old to be a superhero."

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW. The Season 7 finale airs tonight, Tuesday, July 20th.