BORN TO RUN
GRANT GUSTIN TAKES HIS CAREER FULL SPEED AHEAD IN THE FLASH. BY LISA MISCHIANTI. PHOTOGRAPHED BY STEVEN TAYLOR

As the Dalton Academy Warblers’ condescending songster Sebastian Smythe on Glee, we witnessed Grant Gustin engage in next-level intimidation while skillfully belting out pop tunes. The series was a natural fit for the 24-year-old actor, who got his start in musical theater with the Broadway revival tour of West Side Story. But this fall, Gustin takes on a role of an entirely different speed—literally—in the CW’s adaptation of the beloved comic book The Flash, playing the titular hyperfast hero born from a freak lightning incident. “I would have never fathomed I’d get a part like this, just because growing up I was always kind of a tall, lanky guy—not quite someone typecast as a superhero,” says the Virginia native. But is he quick in real life? “I actually am! The track-and-field coach was always trying to recruit me in high school, but ironically I always hated running,” he says. “Now it’s a lot more fun.

I was deeply obsessed with Singin’ in the Rain as a kid. I watched that movie, legitimately, hundreds of times. I started tap dancing as an eight-year-old and even toured with an all-boys tap group that strictly performed Elvis Presley numbers. It’s hilarious looking back, but at the time I thought I was the coolest.

At first I was kind of shell-shocked when I transitioned from theater to TV. In theater you have weeks, sometimes months, of rehearsal, but with Glee it was a whirlwind. And I had never even been on a set before. Darren Criss actually got me a TV set 101 book that broke down what everybody’s job was because I literally had no idea what was going on.

Since landing The Flash, I’ve gotten into this really cool app called ComiXology. It’s all digital comics and it’s gorgeous—they just pop off the page. I’ve been reading mostly The New 52 series, which Geoff Johns, who’s working on our show, had a big part in launching.

The Flash’s costume is unlike anything I’ve ever put on. It was slowly pieced together on me over the course of five or six fittings, so I didn’t have a finished suit until we were about to start shooting the pilot. It’s pretty heavy, but I feel powerful and really cool when I’m wearing it.