He may have started out with dramas like Dawson’s Creek and Brothers & Sisters, but lately writer/producer/director Greg Berlanti has been very busy– and wildly successful– in the world of comic adaptations.
Of course, we’re talking about how he first helped bring The CW’s Arrow to life and populated it with hunks like Stephen Amell, David Ramsey and Colton Haynes. And coming this fall, Arrow-spinoff The Flash launches starring TheBacklot favorite Grant Gustin,
Building a television empire, however, means not being stuck doing just one type of show. Case in point, alongside Arrow and The Flash, Berlanti is also an executive producer on the new Debra Messing series, The Mysteries of Laura for NBC. And, as if that weren’t enough, he’s also a producer on Pan, the upcoming feature film starring Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Amanda Seyfried and Rooney Mara.
We recently sat down with Berlanti, 42, to talk about The Flash and the potential cross-overs with Arrow as well as his relationship with LA Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers, the first openly gay player in Major League Soccer.
Berlanti with Robbie Rogers
The Backlot: With all the positive buzz for The Flash, how are you feeling?
Greg Berlanti: I’m really excited. It’s always very nerve-wracking, especially with a show like this because we feel like we were really blessed on the pilot to execute it on the level we were all really proud of. Now it’s just the arithmetic of figuring out how to do that every week and also sustain something like Arrow, which we’re also really proud of and just keep everything moving in the right direction.
During July’s TCA panel: Cavanaugh, Berlanti, Gustin and Kreisberg (Getty)
Granted The Flash comes off the Arrow world but how important is it to keep some groundedness to it?
GB: The more real it is in one direction the more hyper-real it can be when it needs to be. So that’s always the balance you’re trying to strike.
The pilot has some really great emotional moments, too, that really hooked me into these characters so much.
GB: Before we start breaking the episode we ask ‘what do we want to have happen to the character emotionally this week?’ As long as we’re true to that, as long as we know what those moments are that we’re getting to, that’s what drives so much of the other parts of the stories.
How much is what happened in the past to Barry’s mother and father a part of the present? Barry wants to move forward but there are big things in his past, too.
GB: The mythology of what happened to his mom that night is very much going to be answered over the course of this season. How that affects him emotionally will be his journey for the series.
With what happens to Barry in becoming The Flash, can that be undone? Is there a cure?
GB: We’re dealing with that in an episode right now about how intrinsic biologically and emotionally his abilities may be. It comes up in [episode] seven. We ask a lot of science-based questions about him and his abilities prior to that. We do try to always deal with them in a way that’s TV-real medically but it really is a pronounced episode in seven.
Stephen appears in the pilot episode and we know Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity) is in episode 4 of The Flash. Can we expect crossovers regularly? I guess both shows shooting in Vancouver helps.
GB: We don’t know how we’re going to do the bigger, fuller crossovers yet but certainly if we have a character we know we can rest them there if we bring them here. But when we do the bigger ones where there’s hopefully multiple people going across multiple episodes, that’s going to be a logistical nightmare, but it’s exciting so I think everyone will kind of just hunker down and figure it out.
So there will be a story that starts on one show and then jumps into the other?
GB: We’re hoping to do that around episode eight, but making each episode still its own independent kind of thing.
Just another Saturday night for Berlanti and Robbie Rogers
Your shows’ stars are used to getting press for who they’re dating, but is it weird to you that you and Robbie [Rogers] have gotten a lot of attention? I guess you are posting photos on Instagram, right?
GB: Yeah. We’re open about our relationship. I’m absolutely crazy in love with him so I don’t think too much about all that stuff. I just try to live my life and I know he does too, like two people who are really happy and healthy and a relationship that we both feel really blessed about.
Has it been a year now or longer?
GB: A year. I think early on last year that’s when we saw you [at Yogurt Stop in West Hollywood]. We were on an early date together. It was one of our first dates.
Going into your 40s, you might start thinking about marriage, family and all that. Is that something on your mind, especially when you’re in a good relationship like this?
GB: Yeah, one day I would love to have a family and that’s a big part of my own personal dreams. I’ve thought about it and spoken about it for a while. I think right now I’m focused on what’s in front of me. I imagine my life however many years from now. I don’t want it to look like it looks now. I want it to look more full in that way.
The Flash premieres October 7 and Arrow’s third season starts October 8th, both on the CW.