Grant Gustin reflects on the pros and cons of wearing a superhero suit on The Flash
After wearing a superhero suit for almost a decade, Grant Gustin thought he'd be more excited to finally hang up Barry Allen's costume for good when The Flash ended its run. Looking back on nine seasons of wearing the Scarlet Speedster's red outfit, the actor definitely has some complaints (more on that in a moment). But just weeks after Gustin filmed his final scenes on the set in Vancouver, he realized how much he was actually missing suiting up already.
"The thing I'm the most surprised about, that I know I'll miss because I already do at times, and I became aware as we were wrapping up that this would be the case, but just putting the suit on," Gustin tells EW in our latest cover story. "Because the suit is tough to work in. No one likes to hear actors that play superheroes complain about the suit. Mostly the cowl was really tough to act in. But I grew up a huge Superman fan — Christopher Reeve was my earliest hero, and those movies made a huge impression on me as a kid. It was never lost on me that a superhero suit was made for me to put on, and I got to go to work and do that."
Colin Bentley/The CW Grant Gustin on 'The Flash'
As The Flash neared its end in season 9, Gustin remembers consciously looking down at his legs and his feet in Barry's suit and boots, just to savor those final moments and not take for granted that he got to wear it. "The whole last season, knowing it was the last season, just putting the boots on and zipping it, I knew that I was running out of times that I was going to be doing that," he says. "And every time I took it off, I knew one of these times it's going to be the last time I take it off."
On his last day of filming in early March, he was grateful that his final scene was in the Flash suit. His wife Andrea LA Thoma and their daughter Juniper Grace Louise came to set to watch him, and after his series wrap, he filmed the moment he literally hung up the suit for the last time in his trailer, which he ended up posting to his Instagram. "It was just a moment I knew that I'd want to have," he says. "I felt really at peace that whole last episode, as I did for most of that season. I just was really taking it in and appreciating that I got to be the one to wear the suit because it could have been anybody else, and I was the one lucky enough to get to do it."
But wearing a superhero suit has its downsides, especially one as tight as the Flash's. "Even other actors would come on set that had superhero suits and assume mine was probably more comfortable than theirs because it looks like cloth or whatever," Gustin says. "But you don't realize how we don't want any wrinkles in my suit, because we want it to look as streamlined as possible, so imagine how tight that has to be on not just your body, but in the crevices." He laughs while adding, "The armpits were the weirdest spot. It was the most painful, other than the face mask. They really had to wedge it in there to get it so it wasn't droopy."
Something else that Gustin definitely won't miss? How he sometimes needed a whole team to get him out of the suit after a long day (or night) of filming. "I could mostly get in it [on my own] but getting out of it was something that I couldn't even begin to do by myself," he says. "The most anxious moments would be [when] you've been in it, mask on, zipped up for a few hours or whatever on a night shoot. They designed it in a way that we got pretty good about, if I knew I had 20-30 minutes, I would take my mask off and let it hang because it was pretty tight over the bridge of my nose. But if it was a night shoot and it was cold and we were trying to push through, I would typically just stay zipped up in it for longer periods of time."
Bettina Strauss/The CW Grant Gustin in 'The Flash'
And when Gustin would get the call that he could finally take off the suit after many long hours, he'd sometimes get trapped in it. "There'd be moments where we're going to get me out of it, and they're going to pull the zipper and it breaks," he says. "Then they've got to fix the suit. But there's that moment you're trapped in it. Those were always moments I would feel my body instantly heat up and sweat. I'm like, 'No, no, no!'"
He laughs as he remembers how "it could be a nightmare at times." But as The Flash went on, he was able to evolve the suit in small but crucial ways to make it slightly more comfortable.
"Part of what was so daunting about the early days of Flash was the suit was really tough early on," he says. "It was glued to my face for the first nine episodes and before we figured out how to not do that. I would eat lunch in it. I would be in it for 12 hours straight. There were moments early on where I was like, 'I'm doing this for how long? Six years? Seven years?!' The hardest moments early on was just imagining how I'm going to be in this suit every day for the rest of my life."
The Flash series finale airs Wednesday, May 24, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.
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