By Stacey Gillard
Canadian actor, Chad Rook, will be appearing on our screens this Fall in the new CW series The Flash. He also appeared at a convention for Supernatural in Vancouver this summer after a guest appearance on the show and was immediately welcomed by the fans. We recently had the chance to sit down with Chad and talk to him about his burgeoning career.
At Stake Magazine: First of all, congratulations on your role on The Flash! You’ve been cast as Clyde Mardon but you’re credited as the Weather Wizard, which in the comics is Mark Mardon, Clyde’s brother. Can you talk a little about how the roles differ?
Chad Rook: Yeah, in the comic books there’s the Mardon brothers, Clyde and Mark and there are different stories for each of them. Even in the pilot they mention “the Mardon brothers”. A lot of the fans associate the name Mardon with the Weather Wizard because he controls the weather, so technically he is. We have producers like Andrew Kreisberg and writers like Geoff Johns and Greg Berlanti who are going to give the fans what they know and love. If you see the pilot you’ll see what happens with Clyde and as a comic fan myself I’m happy with the fact that they will give fans what they want. Mark Mardon is out there and they announced at Comic Con that the Weather Wizard will be recurring. But as to aspects of who it is, that’s a different story.
ASM: I’ve heard they’re bringing in some of the other Rogues.
CR: Yeah, they’ve cast Captain Cold, who’s Wentworth Miller from Prison Break. Down the line it’ll be great to be associated and work with those kinds of people. I’m excited. There’s all kinds of speculation as to whether or not they’re even going to bring Mark Mardon in or if it’ll just be Clyde. These people are all dying in a universe where you don’t really die, so you never know! Honestly I wish I knew, but I don’t. I know back end stuff of it but I don’t know the storyline. It’s good that they’re casting the roles now because we know that’s coming, that we’re going to get the characters.
ASM: You said you’re a comic book fan…
CR: Huge. I was raised on it. Actually I’m into graphic design so I used to draw SpiderMan characters and I’m a huge Batman fan. To be honest with you I knew nothing about Flash, it was never my favorite character. I didn’t know how big Flash was until I started looking into it. I didn’t know he had his own city, that he has his own villains and everything. It was cool to know I was on something that big. I didn’t even know who the Weather Wizard was! And now I know more about The Flash than anything.
ASM: You’re in one of my favorite episodes of Sanctuary, a show that is renowned for using green screen instead of practical sets. How was that to work on?
CR: It was weird because I think something like 80% is green screen so you have a couple of props, like a desk and stuff, and the rest is green screen. So you’re making up everything, it’s completely different. But I actually like it because normally when you’re on set filming you know what you’re going to see when you watch it on TV. So it’s so much more exciting as an actor to see it later. “Oh I was on a cliff!” or “I’m on a high rise!” When really all you’re doing is standing in a green room! And they actually use it a lot on Flash. I create weather and cause tornadoes, it’s in the latest trailer, so that was all green screen. Basically I had to walk on this green treadmill while four guys were blowing these fans at me and it was all green screen. The director was yelling “now you’re fighting Flash!” And I shouted back “I’m fighting gravity!” I was going to fall off that thing with these four fans blowing…but then when I got to see it I was so excited, I thought “Wow, this is crazy.”
ASM: You had a role in Cult. It was so meta, such a unique show dealing with the cult of fandom, what was your experience on that show?
CR: Understatement, it being meta! Cult was really cool. It was one of those shows that I think was ahead of its time. You really had to think. It was a show within a show within a show. And even on set there were a couple of times where we had to go to the writers and have them explain to us what was going on because it was so confusing. In part of the show you’re watching the characters and then you’re watching the actors play the characters. But sometimes they don’t really differentiate which “show” you’re in, so you have no idea what’s going on. I think it was a little too complex for people to pick up. It wasn’t one of those shows that you could just pick up and watch. You had to watch from episode 1, or there was no way you’d understand what was going on. I think it was just a little too dark for CW. I don’t think they knew what to do with the advertising and I think it was a show that belonged on a different network. I remember when we got cancelled halfway through it was a big bummer for all of us. I believe HBO picked it up and aired it internationally. And then the ratings were good so CW picked it up again and then finished the episodes. That’s why it went away for a while and then they finished it. It was good to at least give us that. It was weird to bring back a show due to popular demand and then still cancel it, I don’t understand that. Once you got the idea of it, it was awesome. But would viewers stick around long enough to figure out what was going on?
ASM: Did you find it hard to come back from being involved in a show that basically finished before the story was told?
CR: There were a couple of reasons why it was hard. My character Dustin, was introduced early on. I was only supposed to be a guest star and then they brought him back recurring throughout the last half of the season. When they first cancelled the season it was literally the episode before my character was introduced again. So it was a big shock to me because I didn’t get any of my episodes. Then when I found out it was coming back it was great, it was a big high. And then they cancelled the show again. That’s the acting world though. You take years to get a recurring or regular role on a show and then it’s gone and you’re back to square one. It was a big drag. A couple of big drags. It was like a very good script was handed to a bottomless hole. It was like “Let’s just throw this great script away.” Unfortunately.
ASM: You were at the Vancouver Salute to Supernatural convention this August. We hear that the cast and crew on Supernatural are tight knit, they’ve been together a long time. It must have been a little intimidating!
CR: Well I’ve played two different characters on Supernatural. These aren’t major characters, they’re not recurring, but I guess they were pivotal enough in a storyline for them to invite me [to the convention]. When you come there it’s so welcoming. They know so much about your character and they welcome you with total open arms. And the same thing with the cast. The cast is so fun to just be with. I did a panel with Dan Payne and Adam Rose and we met literally not even an hour before the panel and we were just up there making fun of each other and having fun. So it’s really this feeling that the “SPN Family” as they call it is completely different than any other convention on the circuit, that I’ve noticed.
ASM: Was it something you expected? Had you heard of the phenomenon of the Supernatural fandom?
CR: I’d heard of it but unless you’re at an actual convention you’re not going to see it. People would come up to me and they’d created a backstory for my character that I had no idea about and I was playing the character. [Smiling] But they’re a large part of why the show’s gone on for 10 years. That’s the thing.
ASM: At the beginning of your career you modelled but you returned to acting. Was that decision based on something you’d always wanted to do?
CR: I actually never really wanted to do modelling. I was raised in Southern Alberta so there was no acting industry but there was a very small modelling industry. It was a very good segway into the entertainment world. So I went into modelling to get into acting and thank God it actually went that route. I went to Tampa Bay, Florida, did the modelling thing and then I moved to Vancouver when I had enough money and got right into acting. I did modelling throughout the years but that was never what I wanted. It was a very good stepping stone to get to where I wanted to be.
ASM: You mentioned you moved to Vancouver. Was there ever any intention to move to LA or was it important to you as a Canadian to support the Canadian industry?
CR: It is definitely important. I am looking to go to LA. I’m in the middle of getting my visa processed. But right now Vancouver is killing it, it’s almost busier than LA. It would be kind of silly to move down there when things are so busy for me here as a Canadian because then I’m just going down there to double my competition. I would go from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a huge pond. That move is a big move to make and I think if you do that move you have to have something substantial made. I think things like The Flash will help me be able to move there confidently.
ASM: You have your own production company, Checkmate Films. What can you tell us about that?
CR: I used to be in a sketch comedy troupe called the Classholes and we used to do all our own writing We did live events, but it got to the point where they weren’t accepting my writing because it was too risqué for on-stage. So I created my own sketch comedy troupe called FineLine and it wasn’t the boring humor, so to speak, we crossed a lot of lines. In order to do that I created a production company called Rook Entertainment. One of the actors I cast – his name is Nathan Witte and he’s still one of my best friends – had his own production company called Witte Films. We were both just doing little things, like short films, but we were always working together. So we figured we could just amalgamate and we created Checkmate Films. Now we’re doing music videos and later this year we’re doing a feature! [The Perfect Pickup] So it just kind of snowballed. I was forced into the directing side of things when my writing as an actor wasn’t being accepted. And now I love it.
ASM: If you’re on The Flash long-term would you consider directing?
CR: One hundred percent. Well…those type of shows are being directed by people like David Nutter. That’s their job. I would have to be on the show for five or six years before I even asked! The Flash is such a different type of show, it’s almost like a movie. You look at the pilot, normally a pilot is filmed in two weeks or so and they have four to five million dollars. Flash had double that. We filmed from March 1st to March 28th. It was literally like being on a movie. And the scenes that were happening, explosions and massive stunts…I wouldn’t dare want to direct any of that stuff. I would crap my pants! [Laughs] I would be way out my league! So I’ll direct my films that are independent and controlled right now. Until I get to that level I wouldn’t even dare to match up to what those guys can do. Not even attempt it.
ASM: Are you involved in a lot of stunt work on The Flash?
CR: Yeah, they only let us do some stuff because of liability issues but I always tell them to let me do anything! I’ve gotten into trouble in the past where I’ve done my own stunts. On Sanctuary I was playing a vampire and they gave me these prosthetic teeth which are very hard and very sharp. There was a big fight scene so I said I could do it. Jonathan Young [Nikola Tesla] turned around and was supposed to hit me [demonstrates an arm across his chest] basically like a clothes line. Instead he hit me in the mouth. The four teeth went into my gums and there was blood everywhere! I literally had four holes in my gums. So if I can do the stunts, great, but [stuntmen] are there for a reason, these guys know what they’re doing and they’re proud of getting hurt! If one of them got four holes in their gums they’d all be cheering!
ASM: Watching Arrow and seeing parkour that Stephen Amell does, is that something you’d like to do?
CR: I would love to do all that stuff. I’ll never say no to them asking me to do a stunt. And I love the choreography of fighting scenes. That’s why I got into acting to do the kinds of things that as a kid you really want to do. And it’s so much more fun when you see it on camera and realize “That’s me, that’s not some guy in a wig.” Give it all to me. As much as I make fun of the whole treadmill thing it was the most fun I’ve had. I really improved my balance!
ASM: Having The Flash world introduced via Arrow has gotten people really excited about the series.
CR: They’re doing some major crossovers. In fact I think episode 8 is called Flash vs Arrow and to get the full impact of the episode you have to watch both shows. Robert Knepper plays the Clockmaker on Arrow and he’s already been announced as that villain on Flash. He’s teaming up with a Flash character. I’m really excited about that because I’m hoping it’ll go the other way as well and that we’ll start getting some superpowers on Arrow. Which will be really cool for that show. It’s a good time to see a super villain there, so I’m hopeful it’ll go both ways.
ASM: Grant Gustin was so popular when he was on Arrow that I feel a lot of people will follow him over.
CR: Yeah, having a spinoff from Arrow is definitely not going to hurt anything and you don’t have to worry about generating a fan base, it’s already there. The fact that it’s Flash, this is one of the main superheroes. Most people know who Flash is so we’re talking a worldwide fan base here before the show even starts.
ASM: I used to watch the old series of The Flash…
CR: You must be excited about John Wesley Shipp! That was quite the casting. And we have people like [producer and writer] Andrew Kreisberg who are so excited about putting these little hints in all the episodes as to what’s coming down the line. And they love it. I thought I knew comic books until I met them! They said “Fans’ll get it!” and I had no idea what they were talking about! I think I might subscribe to about 5 different Flash podcasts! I learned most things about my character from listening to other people talking about him.
ASM: As someone who isn’t a comic book fan I found Arrow an easy world to come into because they didn’t assume viewers knew what was going on. There were definitely nods to the hardcore fans that only they would understand but I didn’t feel left out.
CR: The Flash is doing the same thing. Even with the origin stories, in the comic books every character has their own arc beyond this world so in the show they did it in a way that you don’t need to be a comic book fan, it’s understandable why they have their powers and it’s a really clever way they did that for TV. I’ve been on other CW pilots and I’ve never been so excited about a show. I play a lot of villains and about three or four months before I got The Flash I told my agent I’d love to play a super villain. Three months later I got the Flash! Ask and you shall receive! Usually when you get a role though it’s always a little played down from what you expect. So they told me I controlled the weather and I went on set thinking “Cool, I’m gonna cause rain!” And they told me “No, you’re in the middle of an F5 tornado!” “Come again?!” So it’s cool to be on a show that actually gives you more than what you thought you would play. Having the budget that they have, and the people they have – they have Academy Award winners doing the clothing and design and special effects – it’s amazing. Unbelievable. I’m so stoked, as you can tell!
ASM: How can your fans connect with you?
CR: I update my website www.chadrook.com, I link all the stories, talk about conventions and post all the photos with my fans. I also have a movie coming out called My Life As A Dead Girl with Cassie Scerbo from Sharknado. I bug her about that! And then I’m filming another movie right now called Mantis, but that’s further down the road. That’s all on my website. If you follow my Twitter, @ChadRook, I do Flash contests and I give away some unique swag, usually every Friday. So if you want to get in on that, check it out, answer some questions and have some fun. It’s a good way to give back.
ASM: Plus you have a lot of conventions booked in the next little while.
CR: Yeah, which is a weird thing because even just last year I was the guy paying to go to conventions because I wanted to see different actors. It’s really weird to be on the other side of that. My mom is so excited – she used to go to conventions with me because she’s a movie fan. It’ll be different when I go to my home town, the Calgary convention, and I’m on that side of the table. And I’m hoping to do more Supernatural conventions. It was so much fun.
ASM: You mentioned just meeting Adam Rose and Dan Payne right before your Supernatural panel and the chemistry was so great. Did you feel what the fans feel, that these events bring people together that might not normally meet?
CR: Well the motivation and energy in that room was unreal. It was literally one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life, it was so funny. My cheeks were hurting from laughing at the end of it! When you get that feedback from the audience, it’s awesome. I used to do theatre and what I like about it is that interaction with the audience. When you’re on set you don’t get that any more. So these conventions are a way to have that interaction with the fans. You feel welcome and you realize why you’re doing what you do and it’s so exciting. Everyone there is in good spirits, they all get along, they realize they’re all there for the same reason. It’s awesome. I’m hoping to do more.
Having met Chad myself at the Supernatural convention I can attest to the fact that he was not only welcomed by the fandom but he reciprocated and spent the whole weekend ensuring fans had a positive and interactive experience. I’m sure he will be returning to the Supernatural convention circuit and look forward to seeing him there as well as when he represents The Flash around the world.
Huge thanks to Chad for taking the time to chat. His enthusiasm for The Flash has me even more excited for the upcoming premiere! Stay tuned for my preview of this and other new shows starting in the Fall as well as reviews throughout the season.