Verge Meets: Tom Cavanagh

If you’re a fan of the CW superhero show known as The Flash, then like me you might follow some of the stars of that show on different social media platforms. I sure do and from doing so I learnt about an upcoming short film that was being made by one of the stars of the show, the legendary Tom Cavanagh who plays Harrison Wells on The Flash.

The short film follows two inept thieves who are attempting to rob a bank without even owning a gun, let alone having an actual plan. It was written and directed by Tom Cavanagh who stars in the short along with The Flash himself, Grant Gustin.

In addition to The Flash, Cavanagh has extensive television, film and theatre credits. He starred on and directed NBC’s “Ed”, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. He was also nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Showtime’s critically acclaimed ”Bang Bang You’re Dead.” Additional television credits include NBC’s “Scrubs,” CBS’ “Love Monkey,” ABC’s “Eli Stone” and TNT’s “Trust Me” opposite Eric McCormack. Recent film credits include the thriller 400 Days, the upcoming indie Offer & Compromise and Yogi Bear with TJ Miller and Justin Timberlake.

I had the pleasure of being able to interview Tom and chat with him about the short.

Verge: I want to begin by saying I admire your work as an actor especially since I am a huge fan of The Flash.

Tom Cavanagh: Thank you, that’s wonderful. It’s a fun show!

V: You’ve got a great level of performance especially when playing all those characters. I think it’s very unique.

T: It’s enjoyable, as I am sure you can tell it is a lot of fun.

V: I am happy today, to interview you about your short Tom and Grant as this must be an important project for you, it must mean a lot to you.

T: Yeah it’s fun. It’s really enjoyable when it’s a personal thing. You know, I wrote it, directed it, I mean I am in it, so obviously it is very close to me. It was an extremely gratifying shoot and also given the fact that Grant who plays The Flash is the co-star, it was so enjoyable to be playing different characters with each other.

V: Congratulations on winning the award, I saw that you won Best Comedy Short at the Manhattan Film Festival

T: Very surprising and exciting! I’m very happy about that, Grant was even like ‘whoa dude how about that’, so yeah we are very pleased.

V: What led to the creation of the short? How did you come up with the initial idea for it?

T: Well there’s a couple of things, one was here in the united states we had a gentlemen talking about…well, I shouldn’t say gentleman. A person, talking about grabbing people by the pussy and that was kind of a falling to me personally so I wrote this rap song about it. That was sort of the centrepiece of Tom and Grant, The rest of it came from myself and Grant, as we get up to a lot of comedy bits, shameless is probably the best way to describe these while we are shooting The Flash and of course they never make it on the show.

Tom and Grant was the perfect form for me to place all that ineptitude. Thus was born this heist, where we play two of the most inept bank robbers in the history of bank robbing. Both Grant and myself enjoy the ethos of a person who thinks of themselves as being really smart, but in fact is really dumb. So Tom and Grant is a run through with that sentiment.

V: How long did you have the idea in your mind?

T: Part of the genesis was the United States election, that one moment where this guy is talking about grabbing people and that he thinks he is a worthy candidate to be elected. It happened pretty quickly from that moment, I wrote it very quickly, it came together and of course, Grant and myself were filming The Flash. The day after we finished season 3, we went right into filming Tom and Grant.

V: Were you inspired by any previous Films or TV in general?

T: Nope, I like a good heist movie but this is a bad heist movie. I don’t know if I’ve seen one where these guys are so inept and so awful and their plan is failure personified from the beginning yet they still embark on it. Like I say, that idea that they think this methodology works when in fact it is the dumbest idea. That was the propulsion that drove it and you know because it was Grant and myself, I wasn’t basing it on anything else except for these guys that we kind of play, again like I say dumb guys who think they are really smart.

V: I always imagine it as how everyone believes they could pull off a heist but the film is showing us how it would actually go for most of us.

T: I don’t know if it would be this bad, I think a lot of people have a moderate amount of intelligence where these guys are just devoid of all intelligence.

V: What were peoples initial reactions to the project, especially Grant, how did he feel about joining you on this?

T: I sent him the script and he’s tremendous, he loved it and he couldn’t wait to do it. A lot of times when they would yell cut on The Flash, we would go backstage and just run it. It’s very much back and forth, it’s quick with overflowing dialogue. That was sort of the field I wanted to play on and that to me looks natural, you get the idea even though you don’t hear all the words. It takes a massive amount of rehearsal to make that overflowing dialogue scene realistic. It was nice for both Grant and myself to have something to sink our teeth into, put some time into something other than Flash.

V: Would you ever consider doing another similar short with maybe even other co-stars of The Flash?

T: I would like to do this and do a full-length feature of it. In either feature form or television form and of course if those people wanted to be a part of it, they’d have to be nice to Grant and me.

V: When you directed episodes of The Flash, was that helpful for you when you began directing this?

T: I think any directing is helpful to other directing, in the sense that the more you do it the more you learn and directing is certainly that way. When I directed The Flash, it has got a million times more expensive budget than Tom and Grant but there’s also a number of effects, stunts, explosive goings on in Tom and Grant so I had to lean on some of the skills I knew from shooting The Flash.

Pyrotechnics, explosions, big set pieces and I mean certainly for a 17 minute short, I wouldn’t describe it as big but at the same time even though there is a lot of talking, there is a grand amount of action as well. I still use the same big sweeping style that’s in The Flash for those pieces.

V: Was there a big challenged you faced while filming this short?

T: So much of the crew was the crew from Flash who had volunteered to come to do it. Those people and I, share a shorthand because we know each other so well. We were climbing the mountain together, overcoming the obstacles together, there is a challenge in any form of filmmaking but having a group that you know well come together makes it very easy to surmount those problems and those challenges.

V: What was the best moment while filming the short?

T: The easy answer would be slapping the snot out of Grant Gustin. One of the most enjoyable things and this is a testament to Grant’s talent, we did a montage where we are just goofing around while we are on a stakeout to rob a bank and those were all improv pieces. Grant was so quick at doing different acts and the biggest challenge the editor faced was overcoming the fact that we would just crack each other up.

The worst Grant’s idea was, the more he was invested in it. The editor kept saying it is so hard because you keep cracking him up and he keeps cracking you up. He’s trying to pick out scenes from these tiny little segments where we weren’t actually laughing at the absurdity of it all. It was a challenge, but that was so genuinely enjoyable, working with someone who shares the same sense of humour. It’s two in the morning and I’m coming up with a bit where I see an eyelash on him and I am making him do a wish, it was wonderful.

V: It must have felt more like a fun time than actual work.

T: It couldn’t have been more enjoyable, it was so much fun.

V: Was it hard work managing this short and The Flash at the same time?

T: I think as actors it is nice to have your hands on a few different things. Obviously, I can’t speak for other people but I always enjoy having a few things on the go, it makes you feel more useful.

For both Grant and I, having the opportunity to think and talk about something else. You know we are shooting The Flash for nine or ten months of the year and you’re very much invested in that and twenty-three hours of television is a lot. Having something else to think about and to work on was a boom for the two of us.

V: Almost becomes a distraction, rather than an actual project.

T: Absolutely.

V: So would you do another short again or are your eyes set on a feature project?

T: Wherever the ideas are, I am sure it is the same with you that wherever the ideas come to you those are the ones you pursue. This is a story we could tell quickly but also leave it open to more and I think I would be very much interested in pursuing the more part of that on this one. Seeing if it could be more episodic or full-length feature, I think that would be the next step.

V: Well I would definitely like to see that, I watched the short beforehand and I thought it was brilliant.

T: Oh great, I mean shameless and awful are the words I use but in a good way.

Sadly it came time for Tom to disappear and go back to working on The Flash. Before he left, he was informed that I contributed towards the funding of the film when it was seeking fundraising from people on Indiegogo. I’d been following this project since the begin and his response made my day.

T: No way! Mate, I appreciate that I didn’t know that and that is wonderful. Listen, half of the things I’ve said in this conversation you have to take credit for yourself. I would put an asterisk next to everything I say and then at the bottom of it say and I made that happen. No really, we are so grateful to those people who were there for us, both Grant and I love this project and it doesn’t exist when people don’t back it. So my gratitude is never-ending and I am very happy to hear that, it is wonderful, thank you.

That was the end of such a fun interview, I’ve linked the trailer for Tom and Grant below and I highly recommend you check it out. If you’re a fan of Grant or Tom or even just The Flash, I believe that you will also love the short as much as I did. A huge thank you to Tom and the people behind Tom and Grant. It was an absolute pleasure to have had the opportunity to interview this wonderful man.