Victor Garber | DC'S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Pollard

Following a career spanning several decades, Victor Garber was introduced to a whole new audience when he debuted as Professor Martin Stein in The CW’s The Flash. As one half of the superhero known as Firestorm, Garber’s Stein became an integral part of the Scarlet Speedster-centric show before later appearing as one of the central characters of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. With the first season of Legends soon to get a home release, we caught up with the ever-charming Victor to discuss all things of a superhero slant, the challenges that come with playing the genius Martin Stein, and even what it was like to work with James Cameron on Titanic.

STARBURST: First and foremost, you came in to The CW’s DC realm as part of The Flash before then becoming a staple of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, but how did you end up involved in this world in the first place?

Victor Garber: Well I actually got a call from Greg Berlanti, who is the creator of all these shows. He’s a friend of mine and I worked with him years ago on a show called Eli Stone. He said, “This is not something you’d normally be thinking about doing, but we have this role on The Flash.” He described it, I thought it sounded interesting, and I thought it’d be something fun to do. So I agreed to that, then went to Vancouver to shoot a few episodes. My friend Robbie Amell was playing my other half [Amell’s Ronnie Raymond initially made up the other half of Firestorm], and also Jesse Martin [The Flash’s Joe West] and Tom Cavanagh [The Flash’s Harrison Wells] are both friends of mine. And I was really impressed with the quality of the show and I thought it was a little different. Then after I did a few episodes, they came to me with the idea of doing this series [DC’s Legends of Tomorrow]. That took a little more thought because it was a long-term commitment. I agreed to do it because I thought it would be a challenge, and it’s turned out to be a challenge, but I’m glad I did it. And here we are!

The character of Martin Stein is obviously a very intelligent guy, and with his role in The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow comes lots of fancy tech-speak and dealing with huge concepts and ideas. How is that to deal with as an actor?

It’s kind of a nightmare [laughs]. But I’ve risen to the challenge. Particularly this genre, this idea, I don’t really have any relationship with; I’ve never been a nerd, I’ve never been interested in comic books, I’ve never been interested in the genre. So I’ve had to kind of develop a way of doing it, but I really find that as long as I remember that this is just a man who happens to be in this world, I’m fine. Otherwise I’d get very confused. That to me is an interesting aspect of the show, is that these people all have problems and have a facet to their personality that they’re dealing with. That’s what I’m hoping will be more of the focus in Season 2.

Looking at your career to date, your appearances in these shows, and from speaking to you now, you seem like a very naturally charismatic guy. With Professor Stein, particularly in his early appearances in The Flash, there’s a certain arrogance to him. He obviously became humbler as things progressed, but how tricky was it to bring a loveable charm to the character initially?

First of all, thank you for the nice words. You might not agree if you were sitting in the room all day, however, but I appreciate it. I think that whatever role I’m doing, I just bring a lot of myself to the role because that’s the only way I’ve ever really figured out how to act with any role. I find, in many ways, I’m similar to Martin Stein in how I have a lot of the same issues that he’s having in later life; of trying to explore life, to uncover new things, he’s interested and curious about what life is and how it affects him. And I have the same interests in my own way, so there’s a lot of similarities in the character for me.

You mentioned how Greg Berlanti approached you for The Flash. You’ve done stuff before like Alias or even lending your vocals to Green Lantern: First Flight, but did you ever imagine you’d end up involved with a full-on, live-action comic book superhero show?

No, not in my wildest dreams. It was a big surprise to me and to everyone I know. It’s so not like what I’ve previously done, but that’s part of what appeals to me; I thought, at this point in my life, like Martin Stein, I wanted to do something different and to challenge myself to push my boundaries a little bit. And this show has done that.

You’ve talked about this particular time in your life there. Being one of the more “mature” members of the cast of Legends of Tomorrow, and even on The Flash as well, do you find that a lot of the younger cast look up to you as a resource, as someone to go to as advice seeing as you’ve had such a storied career?

Well they may do that in the initial meeting but then they find out that I’m just about as ridiculous as can be. I think they end up just making fun of me most of the time, which is delightful for me. I have to say that I’m so impressed with the people that I’ve worked with on both shows, particularly the younger… well, they’re all younger… people like Grant [Gustin – The Flash’s titular hero], there’s Arthur Darvill [Legends’ Rip Hunter] on our show who is just a brilliant actor, and Franz [Drameh - Legends’ Jefferson Jackson] who plays my other half on Legends, Caity [Lotz – Sara Lance/White Canary]… they’re all really highly-trained gifted actors, so there’s a kind of ease and camaraderie that happened very quickly. I love the level of professionalism, which for me has to be there for me to be able to do what I do. Unquestionably, that’s always been there for me with these shows. It’s been good.

During the final episode of Legends’ first season, a question gets thrown up over whether Martin Stein will still be a part of the team going forward. That obviously gets resolved by the time the episode comes to a close, but was there ever a time when there were questions over your own return for Season 2?

Not really. First of all, I do need to work, so there’s that. But also, I want to play this out, I want to see where it goes. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen in this season coming up, but I’m curious to see how they deal with certain problems that we had last year and see how it plays out. And also, I feel very much a commitment to the cast and to the crew. I’m definitely a part of this project and I have a great feeling of respect for it. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in Season 2, and after that who knows. You never know.

You worked with James Cameron on Titanic all those years ago, and we’ve all heard the legendary stories about how intense and driven he can be on set. How was that from your experience?

Well first of all, it was incredibly intense. It was one of the first big films I did and I wasn’t really prepared for the length of time and the intensity of the hours and the night shoots. But I have to say, I think my experience with James was wonderful. He’s a taskmaster but I appreciated his devotion and complete focus on what he was doing. He really is a brilliant director. Asides from his visual and technical abilities, he really directed me very sensitively. He had a great affinity with his characters, and I loved my experience with him. I’ve run in to him since that time and he’s now a vegan. His personality has been a little modified, a little more relaxed. But I would love to work with him again if that chance ever happens.

You’ve mentioned how you’re not sure where things are going to go with Legends’ second season, but where would you like things to go? What would you like to see for Martin Stein?

The show is what it is, and it will be more of that, but my hope is that there will be just more focus on character development and interaction with the characters as opposed to just how are we going to end this scourge of bad luck or bad karma or whatever it is. I just want more human interaction. I’m hoping that they will see that. I think they understand that its necessary for people to stay involved because you can only blow so many people up.

Season 1 of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is available on Blu-ray and DVD from August 29th.

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