I had the chance to sit down with Hartley Sawyer who plays the Enlongated Man on The CW’s ‘The Flash’ where we got to discuss all things Flash and Enlongated-Related.
INTERVIEWER: How did you first get into the acting industry?
Hartley Sawyer: After college, I relocated from the East Coast to LA. I had no idea how to get started. So, I did a couple of month’s background work so I could try to understand the layout of a professional set; I also did some stand-in work. Stumbled my way into my first manager when he saw me working at a cupcake shop on Larchmont. True story. What followed was the story of most actors in Hollywood: for every “win,” expect at least a hundred losses.
INTERVIEWER: Last season of ‘The Flash’, you debuted as the character of Ralph Dibny aka Elongated Man. How was it coming into this show that had this already established cast that had been around together for years before?
Hartley Sawyer: To be honest, I’m not sure how it could have been much more seamless. I am very fortunate and grateful for that. I had known Danielle Panabaker for several years through mutual friends, and I will always owe her my gratitude for her guidance, particularly at the beginning. She went out of her way to share information with me and to make the introductions to my co-workers. I worked with Grant a lot in that first episode, and he’s fantastic to work with. It’s hard to not do good work if you are in a scene with Grant. He’s a very giving actor. I also can’t say enough retrospectively about how damn lucky I am that Tom Cavanagh directed Ralph’s debut episode. Not only is he so generous and masterful as a director and actor, but the feeling of having an “inside man” as we decided the first tone of what would become Ralph’s arc for season four made me feel like I belonged.
INTERVIEWER: Was there any particular research or inspiration that you looked at when prepping for the role of Ralph Dibny pre-‘The Flash’ Season 4?
Hartley Sawyer: I made a conscious decision to not dig into the comics before going into it. I grew up reading a LOT of comics in my childhood, so I knew a little bit about Ralph and Elongated Man (and Sue Dibny), but I didn’t want to feel beholden to anything that I might expose myself to in the preparation. I also knew that a lot of Ralph would depend on my own chemistry as an actor with the other actors on the show, and the best approach is to be open to where those interactions would take me. The inspiration for Ralph Dibny was, and still is, if Jim Carrey and Chris Pratt had a baby and Saul Goodman (specifically the “Better Call Saul” version) raised him. I drew more inspiration from Odenkirk’s stuff in “Better Call Saul” than almost anything else, probably.
INTERVIEWER: Moving on to the fifth season (where firstly congratulations on being upped to series regular status!), what can audiences expect from Ralph Dibny throughout the fifth season of ‘The Flash’?
Hartley Sawyer: First of all, thank you! It was an absolute pleasure and highlight for me to be upped to series regular on the show. All the time I spent with the entire team in season four – I couldn’t ask for anything more. I love working with these people. In season five, we are going to get into an aspect of Ralph that I have been very eager to do since I began playing him – the detective. We are also going to get into his romantic life.
INTERVIEWER: How will this season of ‘The Flash’ differ compared to last season in terms of your character and tone of the show overall?
Hartley Sawyer: All I can say is that this season is all about legacy, loss and family.
INTERVIEWER: A few weeks ago also, a set image came out of a massive billboard from ‘The Flash’ advertising Ralph Dibny Private Investigator which I’m theorising that means that your character will be return to his private detective career … how has that part of Ralph’s character been to explore so far this season compared to the Enlongated Man persona?
Hartley Sawyer: The private detective aspect of Ralph is easily one of my favorite things to explore with him. In season 5, he takes being Elongated Man seriously (because he will do anything to support Team Flash, his family) – but to a degree, E.M. will often be a lot of fun for Ralph. Detective work – that is serious business. Almost always.
INTERVIEWER: And for final words on ‘The Flash’, with the 100th episode of the series going into production recently, what have your thoughts overall been on your experience of being a part of this cast and crew for ‘The Flash’?
Hartley Sawyer: Best job I have ever had. A sheer pleasure and privilege for me that I was a part of the 100th episode of an amazing series following the adventures of one of the most iconic heroes in all of comics.
INTERVIEWER: What have been some of your favorite films and television shows of the past year?
Hartley Sawyer: Better Call Saul. I inhaled Ozarks. Leave No Trace was a great film. I watch a lot of movies from the 80s, 90s and 2000s. Stuff I grew up on.
INTERVIEWER: And to conclude, is there anything you would like to mention about any upcoming projects to make our audience aware of?
Hartley Sawyer: Right now, my focus is on shooting THE FLASH. Beyond that, I spend my free time volunteering as much as I can in the Los Angeles animal shelter system. We need all the help we can get. Be of service – it will save you.