Crisis on Infinite Earths is coming. The crossover event that the Arrowverse has been teasing since the very first episode of The Flash will finally arrive in the fall, and it promises to be even bigger and crazier in scope than we could have hoped for. The wheels were set in motion by last year’s crossover, Elseworlds, which introduced a familiar cosmic figure from the pages of DC Comics: The Monitor.
The Monitor is played by Lamonica Garrett, who joined us at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about how he got the role, the fun stuff that happened behind the scenes of Elseworlds, and just how faithful to the comics Crisis on Infinite Earths will be.
Den of Geek: Tell us about about how you got the part of the Monitor.
LaMonica Garrett: They’re real vague with the breakdowns. You don’t know who you are playing, the characters or anything. And for the first couple of auditions, I thought I was Val Zod, you know, Black Superman. From the way that it was worded, he’s Kryptonian, he’s otherworldly, he has enormous power. I’m like, who else can it be?
I’m wracking my brain. I know comic books and I didn’t know who I was until I was about to fly out there for the first fitting for the outfit. They told me I got it. And I was like, “Awesome, who am I playing?” My manager was like, “I don’t know.” Called over to the producers and they let him know the Monitor. I thought about Crisis. So that was a big deal.
You were already familiar with the Monitor before this, and I feel like everybody knows DC Comics, and maybe they’re familiar with the concept of Crisis on Infinite Earths, but it’s such a crazy story, and so big and dense, so not everybody knows the ins and outs.
That can grasp the magnitude of it. It’s one of DC’s biggest stories, and I didn’t know they were going … from the first episode of The Flash, they’ve been setting up Crisis for years. It’s been that elephant in the room. But I didn’t know if they were going to attack that now, or this was going to be a different Monitor, was it Nix Uoutan, the super judge.
So when I found out it was monitor from Crisis, my mind started just unraveling. I went back and read Crisis on Infinite Earths. You start thinking Anti-Monitor, you start thinking Psycho Pirate. And they’ve been laying these seeds down for awhile, so it’s fun to be a part of that now.
This is really impressive that you already were that into the mythology, because I feel like actors especially now feel that they’re kind of obligated to say, “Oh yeah, well of course I did the research. And of course I understand the magnitude of the role.” But you were deep into this already.
Every once in a while those roles come around where you gravitate towards it. You love it. You love doing the research, and it’s fun. I read comic books anyway. So now when I’m doing research it doesn’t feel like research. It just feels like it’s Wednesday, or Friday or whatever. But it’s one of those times where I’m having a good time.
What was that first costume fitting like?
The first one was just pieces, and they got to measuring and this and that. I went back and forth about three times. And the last time there, I put it all on, and it was like right off the page. This is the Monitor. There were a couple of DC reps there, and they were crying a little bit. They got a little emotional. You know, no one’s ever seen the Monitor come to life. It’s an obscure character, it’s not like Superman or Green Lantern or Aquaman, it’s the Monitor. If you know the story, you do. But a lot of people don’t.
Well, now they do.
They do now.
So after you knew what the role was, and after you’d done the fittings, and after you’d seen the scripts, did they start to tell you … I’m so curious about when they knew, and when were they willing to let the cast know that Elseworlds was going to lead directly to Crisis after that.
I knew nothing. I found out about it when the rest of the world did, after Supergirl. And it came on the ending credits. “Crisis on Infinite Earths is coming next.” I’m like, you’ve got to be kidding me! Why did you hold that from me this whole time?
But yeah, as a fan though I do like being blindsided. Shocked. Because it’s hard to keep things under wraps right now. In today’s day and age, social media, it’s almost impossible. It’s like breaking news every two hours, especially down here [at San Diego Comic-Con]. So that kind of blindsided me, but it was a fun blindside. Then I went back and re-read the comic books again and I got to geek out all over again.
When did you get the call that they were going to bring you back for those little epilogues for the season finales?
Along the way. That’s what’s the cool thing about playing the Monitor too is that he just pops up here and there. And whenever he comes it’s just an ominous feel to him. And it heightens whatever moment is already existing. So it’s fun to just bounce around the universe like that.
Except in the Legends of Tomorrow season finale.
Yeah, the popcorn. That was a happy accident. They just threw it in at the last minute and I heard that they weren’t going to use it, and then “let’s just try it.” The tone of the show lends itself to it. But I didn’t know. I was like, “I don’t know if The Monitor eats popcorn.” When I was there, I don’t know if this is going to go over well. And that turned out to be a hit. So you never know how it’s going to go.
How did they pitch that to you? How did they say “okay, so for this last one…”
“Do you want any popcorn?” It was a little back and forth. They know the show, I wasn’t as familiar with Legends of Tomorrow. I said, “I’ll try it. And if it doesn’t work then we just won’t use it.” And then it ended up working, and now I’m a GIF. It’s fun.
Yeah. People use you as reaction GIF. That’s like a whole different level of fame.
That’s different fandom right there. Now I’m the guy that they post in when “I’m just here for the comments” and you see the Monitor just eating popcorn.
What was it like when you first made your appearance in the teaser at the end of another episode and it was you and John Wesley Shipp as the Flash. Were you holding your breath? Or were you paying attention and waiting for that fan reaction on social media when they revealed you?
The fandom with these shows is humongous. When something drops your social media is blowing up. The internet is blowing up. It’s fun. So I knew what was about to come.
And also, reading some of the scripts for the new season that’s happening, it’s another one of those kind of moments where fans are going to lose their mind and you can’t wait for it to happen. It’s fun. It’s a good experience.
The scale of Elseworlds was immense. What was the biggest scene that you felt you were involved in? What was the craziest thing that you saw during filming?
I think for me as a fan, there was a scene with me, Supergirl, Arrow, and Flash in the street. It was a confrontation when they first met. And the kid in me was like, “Wow. I’m looking at the Flash logo, Supergirl, that’s Green …” I’m out of my own body from the side, looking at it like, “what’s about to happen? This is crazy.” And then you’re doing the scene and it was one of those moments where I’m living the comic book right now. That was it. Just surrounded by super heroes that you grew up reading, and now you’re in a confrontation with them.
And your first onscreen moment got to be with a beloved TV Flash from the past.
Legend. That was it’s own glory. We were in the shuttle ride going over to the location. And I said, “Can I get a selfie real quick? Fanboying out real quick. I watched you growing up. Just a quick selfie?” And he was totally cool about it. Great dude. But I’ve had a lot of those moments on set.
So what can you say about Crisis? What have they told you so far? Because it seems like they’re already setting this up, because the way Arrow season 7 ended you have to be a presence in Oliver’s life to a certain extent this season even before Crisis begins in earnest, right?
It’s hard to bring everything that’s on the page and adapt it to the screen, but they’re doing a really good job of that. Without going too far into details, but they’re trying to stick as close to the comic book as possible. And that’s hard to do. But I think as we go, today they just announced Brandon Routh is going to be Superman. As we go, there’s going to be different actors from all over the past of DC TV jumping on board. Who knows who’s coming? It’s a fun part of something this big though. It has the magnitude for it. I think there’s going to be some people jumping on board that comes out of left field.
You’ll see more of LaMonica Garrett as the Monitor when Arrow Season 8 arrives on Oct. 15. Crisis on Infinite Earths will begin in December across all the Arrowverse shows.
Hear more analysis of Crisis on Infinite Earths on Part 2 of our SDCC 2019 Highlights podcast: