When watching the pilot of The Flash, it was the casting of Jesse L. Martin that grounded the series in a reality simliar to what Arrow goes for even though this is a much more fantastical series. You see Martin and you think Law & Order. You can almost here the "doink-doink" sound from the show and expect the late Jerry Orbach to be his partner.
In the new series Martin plays Detective Joe West, the father of Iris West (Candice Patton) and the man who took Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in after his mother's murder. During Paleyfest, the cast and producers of the Flash were interviewed by Collider and Martin addressed the very unique dynamic between the Detective and Barry.
Detective West is the surrogate father of Barry Allen. What is that family dynamic like?
JESSE MARTIN: Obviously, I'm not his real dad, and there are plenty of times when Barry, as a little boy and as a grown man, will tell me that I'm not his dad. But I did all the stuff that dads have to do, in order for kids to make it to school and live a decent life, so I don't care what he says. I'm his dad, especially when I need to be. I make sure that he's safe. Of course, he's The Flash now, so he gets in a lot of trouble, and I still have to be dad.
On Arrow, people didn't really know his secret for awhile, but with The Flash, Barry's surrogate father finds out. Is he even more protective of Barry and his daughter, Iris, because of that?
MARTIN: Yeah, of course! It's not every day that you find out that your kid is the fastest man alive, not to mention that there's a whole bunch of other people in this world, all of a sudden, who can do either really amazing things to help humanity, or do really horrible things to hurt humanity. The more I find out, the more I'm like, "Oh, my god, how am I gonna make it?! I'm gonna have a stroke before the show ends." I worry. I worry about him. I worry about her. She loves him. That's her best friend in the whole world. He loves her. He's probably going to say something to her, and she's going to find out. The next thing you know, she's going to be in trouble. I don't have any powers to help, other than being human. So, I have to be super human, in order to protect them and make sure that they're okay. All I have is my wits, my body, a gun and a badge.
When you left Law & Order, did you think you'd ever put on a gun and badge again?
MARTIN: Nope, I never did. When I met Greg and Andrew in New York, when they were telling me about the show, I actually had an incident with a cop, on the way there. I said to myself, "What else can I do with a detective? What am I really going to be able to do?" And then, they started talking and telling me about the world of The Flash. Now, I'm not a comic book guy. I never was, growing up. I didn't know anything about The Flash, other than that there were Underoos and I had them. And I knew that the guy could run really fast. That's all I knew. To be honest, I still don't know that much about The Flash because I don't want Joe to know that much. I want Joe to see it when Joe sees it. So, Jesse sees it when Joe sees it, and when the audience sees it. So, when they told me about the things that I would get to do, I got excited. On Law & Order, I got to do some incredible things and work with some incredible people. Here, I have a family, I have a life, I have people to protect, I have people to love, and you get to see him love and protect these people, not to mention that you get to see him dealing with some extreme humans. I didn't get to do that on Law & Order. Also, they were really jazzed about it and they made me really excited about it, too. I have a friend who's super into comics, and when I told him what I was up for, he lost his mind. He was like, "If you don't do this, I'll kill you. You'd be crazy not to do this." And he was right. I would have been totally crazy not to do this. I am super psyched that I did.
What do you like about your character?
MARTIN: The thing I love most about what I've learned about Joe West, so far, is that he doesn't see showing emotion as a weakness. He sees it as somebody who's been strong for a really, really, really long time, and had to break. I love that. You get yourself trapped in the notion of being a cop, and you always have to be stern about things and not cry and hold yourself together, but that's not Joe. He's strong and he can hold himself together, but sometimes he breaks down a little bit. I like that.
With all the talk of crossovers between The Flash and Arrow, maybe we'll get a chance to see Detective West meet up with Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) and work a case together.
The Flash debuts October 7th on the CW.