Candice Patton & Danielle Panabaker on real life superheroes and female power roles
Candice Patton plays Iris West, Barry Allen’s Maybe-One-Day-Love-Interest, in the superhero tv show The Flash while Danielle Panabaker plays Caitlin Snow.
THE RED BULLETIN: Candice, what are the advantages/disadvantages of playing the love interest for you?
CANDICE PATTON: I love it. The only difficult thing is how frustrated some audience members get with either wanting Iris to get together with Barry, or be with a certain person. I wish more audience members were patient and just let the story unravel. I think the relationship we have established on the show between Barry and Iris is quite romantic. It is this idea of destiny and finding someone that you are meant to be with. I think that is a really novel, lofty, romantic idea and I love playing that.
Danielle, can we expect Killer Frost back in season 3?
DANIELLE PANABAKER: I would love it if we saw more Killer Frost. Unfortunately I think that the Earth 2 version of Killer Frost is in fact dead. But there are 52 earths, maybe we will see her on a different earth!
We have already met your characters from Earth 1 and Earth 2. What do you expect for your characters from Earth 3?
D: Change. I like that everything is different.
C: I don’t know what ideas I could come up with for Earth 3. I can’t even imagine what they are going to come up with. And they have so many Earths to cover. It is exciting to know that you get to play so many different versions. It keeps you on your toes as an actor. We never expected that we would get to play different characters in a sense. That is a luxury that not a lot of actors have.
How do you like all the special effects that come with a superhero world?
D: They are really fun. I still get giddy when I see the giant green screen.
C: We are making a new movie every week. I could leave this series and feel like I could walk onto a movie set and do a big blockbuster, because essentially we are doing that every single week. Having to imagine something that is not there is already difficult, and then trying to imagine something that does not even exist in the real word, like a shark in pants, is just an added challenge.
Did you have a favourite superhero, or comic book when you grew up?
D: I am new to all of this. So I am learning as I go.
C: I grew up loving DC. Batman was a huge one for me. I didn’t grow up reading comics, but I watched all of the Batman & Superman films. I have started reading the Flash comic books, which I get a lot of enjoyment out. And I am kind of venturing out to other graphic novels, like Preacher before it started airing.
The audience sometimes expects a female actress to always be strong. But I guess for an actress it is much more interesting to grow into her role.
C: Absolutely. I found out working on the show that audiences are less excited to see women grow on television. They expect them to start strong, stay strong, finish strong. And it is just not true to real life. Women are complicated. We are messy. We make mistakes. I think it is important to show that. What I love most about Iris is: we have watched her grow across season 1 and season 2. And I hope we get to continually see that over several seasons. I think that is more true to real life women. She is in her twenties. There is no way she has it all together. I don’t know anyone in their mid-twenties who has it all together.
If superheroes really existed in our world, do you think it would be a better place, or would it be even worse?
C: What I believe about our show, and about the superhero genre, is that it is pointing to the fact that superheroes do live in our world. You don’t need superpowers to do great things for the neighbourhood you live in. it is about using what you have to do what you can to help other people. If anyone of us got struck by lightning today and became the fastest man or woman on earth, would you use the superpowers for good? Would you be Barry Allen or would you be the Reverse Flash? Would you either be a good force in the world, or a negative evil force. That is just my deep, deep take on the subject.
Who are your superheroes in real life?
D: I am excited about Hillary Clinton.
C: Our military, our nurses, our doctors, everyday people making an honest wage to help. Sometimes I am envious of that as an actor. Sometimes I think what I do is not very important. In my personal life, my dad is a hero to me. He was a blue-collar worker. He worked really hard and he installed in me this idea of never giving up and never quitting. That is a hero for me - someone who inspires other people.
Was there ever a time when you thought about giving up the business you are in?
C: Yes, right before this show. You know as an actor you are constantly in and out of auditions. Constantly going from one job to the next job. It feels like you are never going to find stability. The Flash came at a time where I had gone through several pilot seasons and it was so close. It was between me and the other girl. And it always went to the other girl. You kind of lose hope. You wonder: Is it just a pipe dream? Should you just pack up and go back to Texas, which is where I am from. I remember going home for Christmas and I didn’t think I did very well on The Flash audition. So I went home and I told my parents that I thought I was done, and was thinking about moving back. My mother said, ‘you can move back to Texas, but you can’t stay here. I am not going to support you giving up on your dreams.’ So I went back to L.A. and two weeks later I got The Flash.
D: There have been multiple times when I was going to give up. It is a business filled with rejections and you have to find your own way to cope with that.
What do you like about the show the most?
D: For me it is the storytelling. There is so much great material and they tell great stories. That and the stability a life in television brings with it. I have a job almost ten months a year. That is a great thing and a rarity as an actor.
C: The cool thing for me about The Flash is that it is such an iconic comic and now TV show. We are touching a new generation and for a large group of people they will forever know me as Iris West. (Points to Danielle) They will forever know her as Caitlin Snow. For the rest of my life someone, somewhere will come up and say: “Iris West, I remember you from The Flash.” That means a lot.
Who is your favourite super villain on The Flash?
D: We have had a lot. It is fun. I mean the big ones have been incredible, like Reverse Flash and Zoom obviously. I think Captain Cold is cool, even though he is not really a villain. But I like The Trickster, Weather Wizard, Trajectory, too.
C: I still stick with Captain Cold. I don’t know why. There is something cool about him.
What kind of feedback do you get from the fans?
D: We do live in a tiny bit of a bubble, just in terms of the fact that we live in Vancouver and we work in Vancouver. That is a lot of our world. One of the favourite things that people will say is that they watch it as a family. I love hearing that.
C: My character in the comic books is traditionally white, so playing Iris as an African-American is a unique experience. So the coolest thing that I hear from fans is: ‘I grew up reading the comic books. I know Iris West and I know Barry Allen. For me you are the perfect Iris West. And I have grown to know and love your version so much.’ When someone who has grown up with these characters says that to you, it is really special.
Was it quite a brave move then to cast you as Iris in some respects?
C: I don’t find it brave, but I am also a minority. It seems right. It seems like something that we should have been doing a very long time ago. But again, one of the great responses we get from fans are: ‘I see myself. I finally see a world that looks like the world that I live in.’ That is important. Our world is extremely diverse. Doing these international press tours reminds me of that. Not everyone has blond hair and blue eyes. So it is important that people turn on television and see themselves represented.
There seems to be a good atmosphere on set. We can see it on social media: You guys are posting a lot of friend’s stuff.
D: We are friends. Social media makes me nervous though, because I am always afraid that I give away spoilers. So I get really nervous. But we do get along and we do see each other outside of work, too.
C: What you guys see is what you get. It is pretty much the truth. We don’t take ourselves seriously.
Outside of DC universe, if you had to play one character in another TV show, which one would it be?
C: Carrie Mathison on Homeland or the Mother of Dragons on a little show called Game of Thrones.
What do you wish for your characters for the next season?
D: I am excited to see what the changes are. Obviously Flash changed things by going back in time. I really would like to meet Caitlin’s mother and know a little bit more about her family life and her backstory.
Maybe you would also like to know more about the origin of Ronnie?
D: That is always my pitch: “Well, maybe if things were different, Caitlin and Ronnie (Raymond) are happily married?” Because we haven’t seen that yet and it would be nice.
C: I am happy to let them take Iris where they want her to go. But I would love to see more of her picture news art. I would love to see them incorporate that in the show.
Do you have a say in what happens at all? Are the writers immune to bribery?
C: You can always say things that you would like to happen, but they are in charge. I don’t think my suggestions are going to change that
D: But that doesn’t stop me from trying. I am like: “What if Ronnie is still alive!”
C: I am like: “What if Iris lives in Eddie’s penthouse?”