The Flash: John Wesley Shipp pulling double duty in season 3
John Wesley Shipp is going to be very busy this season on The Flash. Not only will he be back as Henry Allen for the Flashpoint storyline, but he’ll be suiting up again as The Flash.
For those who may not remember, the real Jay Garrick is a speedster who hailed from Earth-3 and acted as a protector of the multiverse, which is why he was jailed by villain Hunter Zolomon (Teddy Sears) and forced to wear an iron mask. But the Crimson Comet will be back this season — and he probably won’t be too happy that the Scarlet Speedster tinkered with time. EW turned to Shipp to get the scoop on what’s next:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like getting to step back into the role of Henry Allen for Flashpoint? And how different is he when he see him again?
JOHN WESLEY SHIPP: Well, for The Flash universe, it’s Flashpoint, for John Wesley Shipp, it’s whiplash. [Laughs.] I’m Henry, I’m Jay, I’m Henry again, now I’m Henry that never went to prison, but instead had a 14-year successful career as a heart surgeon. It’s a blast. We have these idyllic moments coming up. What would the Allen family had been like if Nora was never killed, if Henry was never convicted? They had this idyllic life, which Barry always wanted. We always feel this emptiness and this lack at the heart of Barry, because his family was so destroyed from the very beginning. So, what’s it like if none of that happened and he had what he always wanted? The larger theme being, what if we got what we say we want? What if we got what we always wanted, what would it really be like, what would really happen? It’s kind of a variation on the It’s a Wonderful Life scene.
What surprised you the most about Flashpoint?
Well, it’s our own version, first of all. I can’t say that anything surprised me about it. There will be ramifications going forward that will be dealt with on a couple of different planes, on a couple of different Earths, but it seemed very organic to me. With the interactions between Nora, Barry, and Henry, we all got to imagine down to our costumes what would it have been like if we had all grown as a happy family instead of what really happened.
Andrew Kreisberg intimated that Flashpoint doesn’t last long, but will you get to play Henry Allen again in the future?
I don’t know. All sorts of things have been posited as possibilities. I don’t know at the present moment that I will, but I know that something is screwing with the timeline, [and] it’s not going to be over with in one episode. I mean, we’re going to be dealing with the ramifications of that decision all season long, so could Henry possibly come back? I don’t know; Greg [Berlanti] at one point said, “There’s a possibility you may be playing Henry and Jay in the same episode, you don’t know.” So that’s the great thing about multiple Earths — anything’s possible.
What can you tease about Jay Garrick’s return?
Just how different Jay is. I’ve had a blast setting the template for Jay and making sure that his temperature is almost the polar opposite of Henry. Henry’s very warm, very emotionally invested in Barry and Barry’s well being. With Jay, it’s more like, “Okay, I’m the keeper of the Speed Force, you’re a new Flash, what are you doing? Yeah, I look like your dad, sorry about that. Big boy rules. So you want to be a superhero?” And if he sees something about to happen that he thinks might have negative circumstances, of course that raises the question in what ways would Jay intervene? In what ways would Barry go to Jay for advice? In those moments, we see two completely different characters relating to each other. I mean, Grant and I had to learn each other all over again from different character perspectives, which is a trip. We just started laughing sometimes, because it’s so different. Jay’s reactions to Barry are so different than the way Henry would react to Barry that Grant just starts laughing sometimes. [Laughs]
Will all that in mind, how will Jay feel about Barry having messed with the timeline?
Well, he’s real concerned about it. He’s very concerned about the decisions that Barry is making. He’s very concerned about how that will reflect on his legacy as the guardian of the Speed Force, which is how Jay seems himself, the original speedster, the original Flash. He’s very concerned about what Barry may or may not know about what he’s about to do, and when that happens, Jay is going to intervene.
There are new photos of Barry and Jay suited up, so are they teaming up to take down baddies this season?
We have three Flashes, don’t we? They wouldn’t put us all there unless they intended for us to work together on some level going forward. I can’t say any more about that. I’m being so careful. But Jay will be coming in and out through the season, so I don’t know what more I can say about that.
Is there anything you can say about facing off against the big bads this season?
In Flash lore, Jay certainly knows who Savitar is and what Savitar is all about, and certainly there’s going to be some overlap and conflict. Jay knows some things about Savitar that Barry doesn’t know, and that would be very useful for Barry to know.
Are we going to see Jay play a role in the crossover?
No, I think the crossover is already done. I think I come back for the midseason finale, but no, I’m not in the crossover.
Through seeing Jay play more of a stern mentor to Barry, will we get to learn more about Jay’s life on Earth-3, maybe even get to see Earth-3?
I hope so. In the most recent script, I found out something — and again, I can’t say what it is — but I found out something that I was surprised to learn, and I’m wondering what ramifications it will have going forward. We do learn more. To answer your question, yes, we do learn more about Jay and his life on Earth-3.
What has been your favorite part about this new season?
Just what I’ve touched on already, getting to know this young actor, Grant Gustin, who I’m so fond of both personally and professionally, having worked on such an intimate level as father and son, getting to know each other creatively from a whole different standpoint. Jay is not exactly what you’d call nurturing. Andrew Kreisberg set the template for me. I was talking about Jay’s temperature in the season finale last year, and I wanted to go at it with a certain temperature, and Andrew said, “You’re exactly right, you are under no obligation to make Jay Garrick likeable at the beginning,” which is a great deal of fun.
The Flash returns Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. the Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.