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November 14, 2017

‘The Flash’: Hartley Sawyer on Dibney’s New Suit and Joining the S.T.A.R. Labs Team

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In The Flash episode “When Harry Met Harry,” Ralph Dibey, the Elongated Man (played by Hartley Sawyer) not only gets a Cisco-designed suit — that is terrible — but he continues his superhero training with Barry, with mixed results. On The Flash set in Vancouver last week, a group of journalists and I spoke to Sawyer about what it’s like joining the S.T.A.R. Labs team. But first, most importantly, what’s the deal with that suit?

“It’s a little hard to get into, but it’s fun to wear actually. It does not leave much to the imagination, but putting it on is fun and it lends itself to a lot of comedy,” Sawyer told us, hinting also that this prototype will not be the final version. “It was comfortable. Slept it in a few times,” he joked, adding: “It does go through an evolution. He will get a better suit. A different suit. Maybe not better. It’s very, very different.”

When it comes to training with Barry though, Sawyer said that,

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Image via The CW

“The learning curve from zero to hero is a pretty big one. It takes most of the episode for him to get there. It’s tricky because Ralph was not, you know, a bad guy but has just gone on this path. And so coming back from that has been tricky. Also kind of the animosity with Barry has been tricky for him too, but it’s given us a lot of opportunities to play off of that. And just now getting these powers it’s sort of like winning the lottery, like ‘I’ll buy an island, I’ll do this, I’ll do that’. It’s like whoa, take it easy. It’s learning that there’s risks that come with that too.”

Sawyer said that while he is familiar with the Elongated Man from the comics via the Identity Crisis storyline (“which is super, super dark”), he wanted a fresh take on the character. As for whether we’ll end up seeing Ralph as one of the world’s best detectives like he is in the comics, Sawyer said, “It becomes kind of a longer term thing for him to kind of get into that.” He also teased that we’ll see more detective work in general this year, something that Grant Gustin also mentioned in a recent interview.

“I think Joe being sort of a moral center in the show — which he does so well — I think the character often understands that things are not necessarily black and white,” Sawyer shared. “And just because they had this huge altercation years ago — Barry and Ralph — that it doesn’t necessarily mean that this guy is all bad now. Because obviously Barry jumps to that, you know, villain thing right away. It’s nice that it’s been a more complicated thing than like ‘hey, you’re not a bad guy’. Yeah, I’n not a bad guy, but it’s taking him time to get back into that world of not being a scumbag PI guy he’s been for years.”

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Image via The CW

Of course, handling metahumans are something altogether different.

“It does not go exactly how he thought it would go. It’s difficult for him. I think the first few encounters he has with metahumans, he thinks it’s going to be a lot easier than it is. And it proves a lot more challenging. And I think the real fallout there from that […] He’s thinking ‘how hard can this be? I’ll just save the day. It’s fine I’ve got the bad guy’. And sometimes there’s a cost to that.”

He also spoke about the physicality of the role, and comparisons to Jim Carrey:

“Working with VFX is really fun because if I’m grabbing this and it’s pulling here or when it comes back it has to kind of come back like a rubber man suit, very much to put in your body. But that’s a very fun thing to do [and] I think the way the character is and the powers he get lends himself to obviously a lot of physicality. I think it being such a physical performance, and kind of an over the top performance — which it is — that coupled with that the fact that, let’s be honest, I kind of look a little bit like Jim Carey — and I’ve gotten that since I was a kid too — so that’s been incorporated too. But I was a huge fan of him growing up. I mean, he’s a genius.”

Finally, we asked about The Thinker, and how Dibney may be a key part of that investigation. “I’m dragged into it, definitely,” he said. “There is definitely more to come.”

The Flash airs Tuesday nights on The CW.

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