If there’s one thing you can count on in the Arrowverse, it’s that with every new season of The Flash we’re almost certain to get a new version of Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells. Cavanagh has brought an assortment of characters to life through the multiversal magic of Harrison Wells, and that will be no different on The Flash season 6. Some, like the original Wells, were actually other characters in disguise (in this case, Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash), while the rest have been Wells from different corners of the DC multiverse, each with their own unique quirks.
Some, like season five’s Sherloque Wells are especially quirky, and while Sherloque left for his home dimension at the conclusion of season five, Cavanagh told reporters at SDCC that it doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of him. “No ones ever gone!” Cavanagh says. “Are they ever gone? It’s a multiverse with all these arcs, they’re never really gone (he said cryptically).”
But Cavanagh isn’t an actor to let his most recent character define him. After the show’s first season, where he turned in a chilling and definitive performance as the Flash’s greatest villain, he spoke with Arrowverse producer Greg Berlanti about how they could change the dynamic for season two and beyond.
“What if we had a daily asshole?” Cavanagh recalls. “Because they really are, and it’s like, what if we had conflict…just a guy who has no social graces, is a bit of a dick, and then ultimately we think because of what’s transpired with Harrison Wells in season one and Reverse-Flash, you think he’s going to be a villain and then he’s not. That was [season two’s] Harry [Wells].”
That evolved even further as the show went into its third season.
“Season two was dark, and I was like, ‘You know what we could use? A little more comedy.’ And that was HR,” he says. “In the back of my head I always thought it would be nice if there was more of a tangential through line that connected to the story that we were trying to tell that season, and HR didn’t really. We didn’t completely do it that way.”
And of course, that eventually led to the genesis of Sherloque. “The idea of Sherloque, a master detective, who’s really funny because he’ll have this pomposity but also he’ll actually be good at what he does, tracking down the Reverse-Flash, essentially me tracking down me… fits with the story and it’s not indulgent,” he says. “That was a delight to play.”
Of course, season five also offered Cavanagh the opportunity to play his original character again with the Reverse-Flash.
“If you look closely, almost every year that yellow suit’s coming on,” he says. “That’s the largest shadow that the characters I play cast, that’s the reason I’m on the show, and…I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that opportunity. The Joker has gotta show up for Batman, Luthor’s gotta show up for Superman, and Reverse-Flash has to show up for Flash, and the fact that that’s always there adds something really delicious to playing the other characters.”
In addition to juggling his various multiversal identities, Cavanagh will direct another episode this year. Having directed the momentous 100th episode of the series last season, he hopes to be able to stretch his legs in a similar manner with his next directorial job.
“Doing the 100th was a delight,” he says. You’re allowed a lot of leeway. I just want to make sure that when I’m doing it, I’m getting a chance to accomplish the same sort of things that you’re allowed to accomplish with the 100th. I’m just gonna leave it there. You guys don’t get to have all the info! You don’t need all the info!”
And with Crisis on Infinite Earths on the way this season (where Cavanagh will play the decidedly non-Wellsian Pariah), that means that the possibilities for even more Wells are, well, infinite. One reporter asked if we might get an episode that consists entirely of Wells from different corners of the multiverse. “There’s myriad ways to get a show canceled,” Cavanagh says, “and that sounds like a great one.” OK, so maybe not.
We’ll meet the new Harrison Wells (and maybe a few more) when The Flash Season 6 arrives on Oct. 8.
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