The past year has seen a lot of things happen in the entertainment world: Marvel's Daredevil dominated Netflix, Nina Dobrev announced that she would be leaving The Vampire Diaries, after years of uncertainty renowned film franchises returned to the box-office with the releases of Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys and DC released trailers for it's highly anticipated films: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and the Suicide Squad. All that only scratches the surface of what the past year has brought to the entertainment industry. But among all that, one phenomenon that definitely deserves to be marked as a milestone is the unprecedented debut of The Flash on The CW. The Scarlet Speedster has raced his way to the top in this thrilling reimagining of the iconic hero! I recently wrote an article about the show and covered why it's one of the best shows on television at the moment. In it, I point out the incredible accolades that the series has accomplished in it's freshman year, drawing 4.82 million viewers for it's premiere, making it one of the biggest in the network's history. Over the course of the first season, the show went on to become the CW's highest rated show in history. The show's speed and power is unquestionable, but so is the man behind the mask. So anyways, the point of my speech is that 2015 has been a year of many things and one of them is without a doubt: The Year of Grant Gustin.
His adorably nerdy but epicly heroic performance as Barry Allen/The Flash has made him a household name. Furthermore, the role has won him both a Saturn Award and a Teen Choice Award this year for 'BreakOut Star'. I have been aware of Gustin for quite a few years and have enjoyed his versatility as a performer and his work, but it is his performance on The Flash that has really opened everyone's eyes to the depth of his acting ability - he can really, really act and he will continue to go from strength to strength during and after The Flash. And here's why:
Despite not having a large repertoire of roles yet (he's only 25 - there's plenty of time for that!), the roles he has had are important ones and have displayed his versatility on screen. Having starred as Baby John in the Broadway Revival Tour of West Side Story, Grant Gustin got his big break into television when he was cast in Glee as villanious warbler Sebastian Smythe. I remember this very well. It was 2011, Glee was still in it's prime at this stage (in it's third season) and it was the show everybody was talking about back then. Sebastian had taken over as the lead of the Dalton Academy Warblers and tried to come between Blaine and Kurt (the almighty "Klaine"), vying for the former's attention. But let's be honest, it was really hard to hate Sebastian. Gustin performed the role with the sass and villainy necessary to make Sebastian a serious threat to the Glee club and Klaine. I remember we always looked forward to Glee each week and it was a treat to see Gustin perform as this meancing character. Despite only being in a mere 7 episodes of a 121 episode series, Gustin's performance as Sebastian ensures that it is still one of his two most memorable roles to date and will resonate with fans of both the show and him, for a very long time. Sebastian was cemented as a fan-favorite character and fans of the show always rejoiced when he returned for guest appearances during Season Four and Five.
However, while Glee gave Grant Gustin a platform to show off his ability to play a villanous role, that's not all he did. Glee also allowed him to showcase his ability to perform on various levels - including singing and dancing. His stage background allowed him to secure the role and run away with it in all the best kinds of ways. He lit up the screen on many occassions with memorable performances of "Uptown Girl", "Glad You Came", "Stand" and a duet of "Smooth Criminal" with Naya Rivera that went straight to Number 1 on iTunes! His charisma as a performer is highlighted in the performance below. Still to this day, it burns that Glee had to remove this performance from the episode (for timing reasons, I think) because it would have definitely been a standout in the episode. But thankfully, Ryan Murphy uploaded the deleted scene onto Youtube. Check out Gustin's awesome voice and dance moves in his performance of "I Want You Back" by Michael Jackson.
It's clear to see why Barry Allen eventually sang a little karaoke with Caitlin Snow on The Flash now huh?! The Broadway/Glee background, great vocals and awesome dance moves make Grant Gustin a versatile talent and even if we don't ever get to see Barry sing again on The Flash, you can rest assured that Grant Gustin will be utlising the talent sometime in the bright future!
He has stated on multiple occassions before that he would also love to star in some independent movies. He has already broadened his TV horizons on a few occassions in the past, branching out to the thriller TV film A Mother's Nightmare in 2012 and the Independent Great Gastby-esque Affluenza. The characters he portrayed in these films range from a besotted youth in love in one to a spoilt rich kid in the other. These are also great examples of his versatile acting ability.
But in 2013, everything changed. I remember we were over the moon when we read that Grant Gustin was joining Arrow as Barry Allen. He was originally supposed to be in three episodes, with the third one being a backdoor pilot, However, Gustin's infectious and well-received performance led to The CW scrapping that plan and ordering a direct TV pilot for The Flash. And as they say...the rest is history.
On The Flash, Grant Gustin has demonstrated his capacity to play a leading man. Furthermore, he has revolutionised what it means to be a leading man. His Barry Allen is not the same kind of stereotypical superhero that everyone imagines in their heads. There were critics who didn't think he was right for the role - citing that he was too thin or too young. He got the same kind of outcry from certain critics that outcried when Michael Keaton was cast in Batman (1989) and Heath Ledger was cast in The Dark Knight. And just like those two phenomenal performances proved the critics wrong, Grant Gustin has done the same, proving that he is more than capable of playing a believable superhero. Furthermore, he has revolutionised not only the idea of a leading man but the idea of a leading superhero. He is not bulging with muscles, he is not a silent vigilante, he is not the stereotypical hunk that has girls falling for him left, right and center. What Gustin brings to the role is charm. He portrays Barry Allen as a (good-looking) nerdy guy who loves science and has secretly been in love with his best friend for years but is too afraid to tell her - how many of us have been there before?! Barry Allen is subtle, he is charming but most of all: he is relatable. Grant Gustin makes him relatable. Having watched the First Season of the show (*ahem* more than once) you can see the various times he strips it back, delivering raw emotion in his performances. Perhaps one of the best episodes in which he does this is "Grodd Lives" (sounds like a strange choice doesn't it). His conversations with Iris are examples of this. His face when she walks into S.T.A.R Labs. The way he speaks to her in the corridor. The hand gestures when he's on the roof with her. His face literally oozes the emotion necessary for the role. For having once played a devious Warbler, Grant Gustin pulls a complete U-Turn and delivers a strong performance as arguably the nicest person on the planet, Barry Allen. And That is down to his versatility as an actor. Having said all that, the moment that cemented him as a force to be reckoned with was the truly moving scene in the Season One finale. Admit it, you cried...no you bawled. Grant Gustin and Michelle Harrison delivered stunning performances that were truly Emmy-Worthy.
In a season of ups, downs, nerdy explanations, time travel and moving family moments, Grant Gustin has delivered his strongest performance of his young career. As Barry Allen, he has given us laughs by saying the wrong thing or using his "Flash voice" and made us cry by visiting his father (the awesome John Wesley Shipp) or bidding a tearful farewell to his mother (the equally as awesome Michelle Harrison), while as The Flash, he has silenced his critics and become the Scarlet Speedster that many knew he was capable of, cleaning up Central City, one metahuman at a time! These are just some of the many reasons why DC should have cast him in The Flash movie in 2018. Despite how good it may or may not be, the film will suffer without the infectious cast of the TV Series.
The dude is emanating star power and has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. But the one thing that always strikes me about him is that even with all the madness and success around him, he has remained humble. If you ever watch his interviews or Facebook videos or follow him on Twitter, you will see what I mean. He is on top of the world right now and is carving out his own super career. He may have played a villainous Warbler on Glee but in real life, he seems to have every bit of the humble, genuine charm of Barry Allen. Here's one of his latest tweets for example:
In the space of about five years, Grant Gustin has went from strength to strength during his career. From getting a guest spot on the biggest TV Show in the world at the time to starring in the lead role of one of the biggest TV Shows in the world right now, he has forged a great career for himself that is definitely set to continue into the future. He can literally do it all: he's a great singer, he's a great dancer and he can really really act but perhaps most importantly, he has kept himself grounded and seems like an all-round nice guy. I have always admired his charisma and humbleness but there is no denying now that even after The Flash speeds off into the sunset, Grant Gustin will remain in our lives and on our screens! I can't wait to see what comes next!
Catch The Flash every Tuesday Night on The CW!