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‘The Flash’ Star Hartley Sawyer on Showing New Sides to Elongated Man

The Flash’s” Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer) has a lot on his mind at the moment.

Learning to be a hero can be stressful enough, but with Barry (Grant Gustin) being wrongly sent to prison Ralph aka Elongated Man had to pick a lot of the slack on Team Flash much earlier than planned. And just when he and the team managed to figure out how to prove Barry’s innocence — thanks to a handy in trick Ralph learned — he found out that the season’s big bad is gunning for him and his elasticity powers.

Here, Sawyer speaks with Variety about Ralph’s growth on the team, being targeted, seeing new sides to the character and how it felt to suit up.

After a few months on the team, who do you think Ralph is gelling with the most?

I think he’s closest with Barry. Even though they butt heads sometimes I think that’s the person he gels with the most. It’s almost a brother-brother kind of relationship where sometimes you want to strangle him and other times it’s like, ‘Look man, I love you.’

He’s not afraid to speak his mind at any point and that causes him to ruffle some feathers. Is that one of the more fun aspects of playing him?

Yeah, it’s nice to be the guy in the room that will say things that nobody else will say.

The first look at Iris, after she received Speed Force powers, was recently revealed. How does Ralph react to her with powers?

I think the only thing I can tease is that he struggles with it. It does give Ralph and Iris to have some real one-on-one time which is really interesting. It’s a cool dynamic and a cool relationship that they have.

Is there any resentment from Ralph that Iris gets this bada– superhero suit immediately while the team made him run around the city for months in essentially a onesie?

She’s married to the Flash so I think it was kind of like, ‘OK, I get it, I’m lowest on the pecking order here.’ I actually loved that first suit. I know a lot of people were divided on it, but I thought it was so fun. It was stupid in the best way and perfect for the character. It was [also] very comfortable. It was like a luge suit. I remember the very first fitting they asked me what I thought and I asked if we could go tighter. They asked, ‘Really?’ and I just said, ‘Yeah I think so. If we’re going to do this lets go all in.’

Hartley’s exhibited a strong moral compass lately, especially when he stopped Joe from planting evidence at DeVoe’s house, but it almost seems like he prefers to keep that part of himself under wraps.

I think in some ways Ralph knows more than he lets on, and I think that’s part of the way he operates in the world. He’s a detective — a really good detective — and that’s a smart way to play it. Never let all your cards out.

How is Ralph processing the knowledge that The Thinker is specifically gunning for him?

Without giving too much away, he struggles with it, for better and for worse. He deals with it in a very human way where he goes back and forth between ‘OK, lets take this on’ and ‘Oh God, I’m going to die.’

It must be pretty eye-opening for him to go from getting these powers that make him nearly indestructible to finding out he’s a central part of The Thinker’s grand plan.

Yeah he’s not indestructible, but he can take a lot of anything and be fine and that carte blanche of being able to do whatever he wants. But he realizes the disparity of it the situation, and he does struggle with it. It was great because it gave us more of an opportunity to explore the different sides of the character.

Aside from Ralph, the bus metas have been a pretty unsavory lot but in “Subject 9,” there’s one who seems like she could be decent. What’s Ralph’s read on her?

He’s not crazy about her, mostly because she’s a country music singer, and Ralph hates country music. I think that like a lot of people do with him, he kind of judges her based on what’s on the surface. But he gets to know her a little bit more and it changes a bit for him.

A lot of the funnier moments from the season have come from Ralph, but since the midseason premiere there’s been a more serious side to him. Is that trend going to continue?

With the threat of The Thinker out there looming and as he learns more of the responsibility of what it means to be a hero through Barry’s tutelage, it becomes serious business at times. And it’s not that he’s a totally unserious guy, it’s just that’s how he’s operated. He’s been the kind of guy that will get punched in the face for saying the wrong thing. It helps develop the character nicely against the backdrop of always saying the wrong thing — it humanizes him a little bit to have those moments where he lets down his defenses a bit.

“The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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