The Flash's Clancy Brown: General Eiling Is "Not Quite As Selfish," "Just As Obsessive" As Lex Luthor

Tonight's episode of The CW's hit DC Comics adaptation The Flash introduces a couple of new [...]

Tonight's episode of The CW's hit DC Comics adaptation The Flash introduces a couple of new characters -- Plastique and General Eiling -- both of whom wil be familiar to longtime DC Comics readers.

The Flash's Eiling, though, isn't entirely new to DC fans; he's played by Clancy Brown, who has done voice work for a number of DC projects over the years, most notably his years-long run as Lex Luthor in the Superman and Justice League animated series.

Brown joined for a discussion about his character and his debut on tonight's episode, which airs on The CW at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

With your debut on The Flash and your introduction to the world of Warcraft, this is a pretty exciting week for you, isn't it? Are you getting any sleep, or just doing press?

Oh, no, no. Warcraft is very tightly-controlled and Blizzard has that firmly under its own thumb. They haven't hit me up for any kind of participation yet. But as the year that it opens approaches... [Laughs]

What is it? It's not for a couple of years still. They're handling it their way and all I had to do was sign stuff to say I wouldn't talk about it. I guess they'll have to come kill me since I talked about with you.

You've done this sort of role a lot, right? Looking to The Shawshank Redemption, or to your time as Lex, you're the guy who has it under control. How do you play the grades of that kind of character so you can keep it different each time?

Well, the character's completely different. Lex is Lex; he's an industrialist, he's a Republican. Eiling is a military man; he's a career military guy. That gives you a very different worldview than somebody who's in a for-profit endeavor. I guess there is similarity in that they tend to look at the world through a prism of how it's going to advantage them -- Lex, how it's going to advantage Lex and LexCorp and Eiling how it's going to advantage the United States military and therefore the United States.

It's different, believe me.

...Well, you tell me. Maybe you'll watch the episode and you'll go, "Man, all he did was Lex Luthor! Why'd they cast him? He should be doing something else!" [Laughs] But it's not quite as selfish, even though it's just as obsessive I suppose.

Obviously Eiling is a character who's got ties around the DCU. Were you familiar with Eiling from your previous work with DC?

It's funny you'd say that because I'd characterize him as kind of peripheral. He shows up intermittently, he's never really lived his own story arc, if I'm not mistaken and when he did, it wasn't very satisfying if I recall.

I feel like being so peripheral in DC gives you an ability to slot him in anywhere that you need a military presence.

Right, right, so maybe that's what it's going to be. I really don't know how they're going to develop him. I'm sure it will depend on what the ratings are but hopefully they'll develop him in a way that is as logical as the show has been so far, which is a fantastic, imaginary city and event and people, dealt with in a rational and realistic way. I don't think they're going to have him run for President, anything like that, but he is going to follow his mission and try to leverage all of these meta-beings and the science into an advantage for his team, for sure. That's what logically would happen.

Do you think that starting with Plastique, a character whose powers are inherently dangerous, positions you as somewhat more sympathetic?

You know, you've got to see the show. It doesn't really come off that way. Because you know about Plastique and Eiling and stuff, you's going to surprise you. She's a very sympathetic character, it turns out. I thought it was an odd pairing, to be honest with you, but when you read the script, they make it make sense and everybody's motive was the right motive and it all clashed together and I think it makes for a pretty good evening of television and it gives you a good idea and makes you excited for what you may see in the future.

You've got to kind of throw out what you know from the books.

Eiling in the comics is something that eventually gets his own powers. Is that something you'd like to do in live-action?

I guess you didn't see Sparks. [Laughs] That was my one venture into super powers. 

I don't know. To be honest with you, I never liked what happened to Eiling in the comic books. I liked his character before all that nonsense happened.

It's like Thunderbolt Ross -- I don't like that he necessarily turned into the Red Hulk but it was sort of the way the narrative had to go. The Red Hulk and Thunderbolt Ross exist perfectly well exclusive of each other and I think that Eiling turning into...what did he become in the comics? Some kind of Nazi-werewolf nonsense? I don't think that's relevant these days.

There may be something else that logically flows out of that from the writers but I think as a representative of the military and the fact that the military's all superheroes in the military, right? That's the way we treat them. And the science that they have available to them and the tech they have available to them -- the extraordinary capability that the U.S. military has is sci-fi stuff.

I think that would be interesting if that was his super power is that he had sway over all of this incredible capability that the U.S. military has. He doesn't need to be big and muscular and have his shirt ripped; he just needs to have access to all the toys. But we'll see -- that's not for me to decide. I'm cool with whatever they decide. If they want me to put on a rubber suit and fly around with a cape then that's cool, but I think they're smarter than that.

You have, at one point, voiced Gorilla Grodd...

Ed. Note: In Adult Swim's most recent Robot Chicken DC Comics Special

[Laughs] Yeah! That was...

Do you have any advice for whoever takes on that role in The Flash?

To do Gorilla Grodd? [Laughs] Well, my Gorilla Grodd was a joke! Powers Booth did it in the Justice League Unlimited and he did a great job. I don't know what Grodd's going to turn into but no, no. I don't have any pointers. [Laughs] Hell, no. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with him.