The Flash: Hartley Sawyer on Crisis crossover, Ralph's mother
Ralph Dibny’s world will be rocked in more ways than one on The Flash.
In Tuesday’s episode, fans will meet Ralph’s (Hartley Sawyer) zany mother Debbie (Amy Pietz), who finds herself in trouble with the law and needs her son’s help. In the process, though, the stretchy private investigator ends up discovering a secret she’s kept that will have a profound effect on him going forward. As if that wasn’t enough, Ralph and the rest of the team will soon learn that the Flash destined to die on Dec. 10, 2019 — a.k.a. in the annual crossover, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” — which will also throw Ralph for a loop once the secret comes out. Basically, Ralph has a lot going on this season.
Below, EW chats with Sawyer about what’s coming ahead for him in Tuesday’s episode and the crossover.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: “Crisis” is obviously looming over season 6. How does Ralph react when he learns that Barry is destined to die?
It’s not something that he is going to take lightly by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s not something that he is going to take well. The impact on the team of realizing what’s coming and what’s to happen, and specifically with Barry, is going to have a huge ripple effect through the team that’s going to lead us up to actual “Crisis” itself, which we’re filming right now. It’s a bomb going off. For Ralph specifically, he and Barry always had this like brother-brother relationship because they love each other, but they’ll butt heads, too, but they’ll also have a good time. Barry was the guy that pulled him out of where he was when we met him in season 4 and showed him the path of what he could be and what he could become, and what he has become and will continue to become. So the idea of losing that is catastrophic to Ralph.
This is your second crossover, right? How’s that going so far?
Yeah, I was briefly in “Elseworlds.” I’m more involved in this one. So, this one is a little bit heavier for me. This one has been, oh my god, it’s been a ride. I mean, it’s just absolutely massive in scope and scale and just logistically, it’s crazy and then you get to set with some of these people… I mean, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe some of the people that I’m working with and standing next to and doing scenes with. It’s like if you told me four years ago, I never would have believed it.
We’re also meeting Ralph’s mom in this week’s episode. What’s their dynamic like?
It was a really fun thing to shoot. We actually talked about bringing in Ralph’s mother very, very early on. Like somewhere in season 4 the idea for that came up, and we wanted to play the long game with that. But I was very excited at the idea of bringing her in because we get to see where this guy came from and why he is the way he is and the similarities between the two of them, and then ultimately some of the differences, too. It was a really fun process, and Amy, who played Debbie, was just fantastic.
When it came to Ralph’s mother, how much if anything changed between what was discussed in season 4 and now?
We never talked specifically in season 4 about what bringing mom in would do or be like or anything. It was just the idea of having that presence. Especially with how different Ralph was from who he is now and how he’s evolved since season 4, I think it was smart to wait, to sort of have this touchstone of, again, “Remember where this guy came from and remember how far he’s grown.” And I think that’s what we’ve used it as, this kind of signpost for his growth and his maturation.
How did this story line shape your own understanding of Ralph?
The process of what happens in episode 3 and the scenes with Ralph and his mother, there’s sort of this realization for Ralph, ultimately, how it came together for me and how we played it out, that Ralph is the adult now. I think a lot of children can relate to that, whether they’re younger or even in their 40s, 50s, 60s or whatever, where you realize in this moment, and there’s something kind of a little tragic about it, [that] you have sort of surpassed your own parent in their growth. You know, they have their limitations for whatever their life was. And I think that’s the realization for Ralph in this episode: “Oh, I’m the adult now. I’m the one who’s the most mature. I’m the one who’s the most put together,” which is a really big thing for him to take in.
Team Flash also throws a party in Tuesday’s episode. What was it like shooting that?
It was very fun to shoot it because all of the things that don’t make it in the show and things that happen when the cameras aren’t rolling, when we’re just laughing and goofing [off], and stuff, that was just an opportunity to do some of that, that was going to make the show. So, it was really fun to just really go for it and just play with that. It was fun to do that for the Killer Frost because I just love what’s going on with that character right now. So the fact that it was for Caitlin-Frost was also very, very fun, especially with the way character is.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
- The Flash recap: Resilience in the face of crisis
- The Flash boss teases the fallout of the Monitor’s grim ‘Crisis’ prophecy
- The Flash premiere recap: The countdown to Barry’s disappearance in ‘Crisis’ begins
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- Grant Gustin,
- Danielle Panabaker,
- Candice Patton
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