Grant Gustin: From Glee To The Flash

Like John Wesley Shipp before him, Grant Gustin is a name that has become synonymous with DC's speedster superhero, the Flash — or Barry Allen, as he's called when he's off duty. Gustin took on the role in 2013, first playing CSI Barry Allen in a two episode arc of "Arrow," which teased the introduction of "The Flash." A year later, in 2014, Gustin's superhero series officially grew legs, becoming the second installment of The CW's Arrowverse. The actor was a young 23-year-old when he first scored the role, making him much younger than some of his predecessors. However, when the pilot brought in the highest ratings The CW had seen since the launch of "The Vampire Diaries," it was clear show bosses had gone in the right direction. "The Flash" would go on to have a further eight seasons (as of this writing), and along with "Arrow"'s Stephen Amell and "Supergirl" star Melissa Benoist, Gustin became a beloved TV superhero.

"The Flash" has brought with it some big highs and lows for Gustin, who has committed almost a decade of his life to playing the scarlet speedster. During that time off-screen, he's celebrated his growing family, spoken candidly about his mental health, and opened up about the opportunities he lost out on because of the iconic role. Life might be coming up roses for Gustin now, but it hasn't always been easy. We're diving deep into the actor's life and career. Here are 13 details about Grant Gustin of "The Flash."

Grant Gustin dropped out of college to become a Broadway star

Back in 2010, Grant Gustin was a mere 20 years old and finishing up his sophomore year at Elon University in North Carolina, where he'd been studying musical theater. He knew acting and musical theater were what he wanted to do professionally as a career. "There wasn't ever really a backup career I had in mind," he admitted to Backstage. At the time, Gustin had already bagged a couple of small acting parts, like an episode of "A Haunting." However, he wanted to get some formal training — hence his degree — and revealed to the news outlet (now that he had absolutely no plans of leaving school before he'd graduated (via LiveJournal).

Although, that's exactly what happened. Gustin admitted that he wasn't actively auditioning for parts in New York, but playing Baby John in "West Side Story" was an opportunity he absolutely couldn't pass up. "'West Side' was the only thing I'd auditioned for in New York, just because it was my favorite show growing up, and I thought it'd be fun. And I knew that I was kind of right for it, so I went," he explained. After the audition, Gustin claimed the part of the New York Jet, portraying him over 400 times in the 2010 to 2011 Broadway revival tour of "West Side Story." Speaking positively of the whole experience, Gustin surmised that he gained incredible amounts of confidence as a performer.

Glee helped Grant Gustin transition from theater to TV

Grant Gustin's star was on the rise following his run on Broadway. "The Flash" star had always hoped he could make a career out of acting, and to do that, he wanted to transition from Broadway to the screen. This happened quickly, as before the year was out he'd nabbed the part of baddie Sebastian Smythe in the hit TV series "Glee." "The transition was cool, because the first time I was ever on camera in a big professional way was guest starring on 'Glee,'" Gustin explained to Backstage, though he noted that he never expected it to happen so early on in his 20s.

Since he was fresh off "West Side Story," Gustin's pipes were thoroughly worn in. This made "[Glee] a cool transition because it was a musical and I was singing and dancing, just trying to get used to being on set and being on camera." Gustin played the Dalton Warbler in no less than seven episodes of the popular series, performing covers of songs like Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl." However, one of his most popular "Glee" performances was his rendition of "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5. Although the scene was cut from the Michael Jackson tribute episode, "Glee" showrunner Ryan Murphy posted the clip online, and it has since raked in over 26,000,000 views.

Following his stint on "Glee," Gustin built up his TV career with appearances in "CSI: Miami" and "90210" before scoring the role of Barry Allen in "The Flash."

Grant Gustin didn't want to audition for The Flash

As Grant Gustin noted in an Instagram video in 2022, his name and career will probably forever be associated with the scarlet speedster. "It is seriously a true honor," he gushed ahead of Season 9. Given his commitment and devotion to the series, it might come as a surprise to learn that the actor really did not want to audition to play the Flash all those years ago.

Speaking to "Smallville" star Michael Rosenbaum on his podcast "Inside of You," Gustin admitted he believed he had no chance of getting the part. "I get a lot of audition anxiety and you know ... I don't want to waste my time or their time," he explained. The casting call asked for "mid-20s to early 30s or mid-20s, to early to mid-30s and, again, I was like 23 and looked like I was 19 maybe,  and I didn't want to go to the audition at all because I thought it was so irrational to think that I could book it."

Gustin might also have been a bit nervous about going for the part, since this wasn't his first Arrowverse audition. He'd previously tried out for the part of Roy Harper, aka Arsenal, during "Arrow"'s first season, per Screen Rant. However, the part went to Colton Hayes, which was lucky, really, as we couldn't imagine Gustin in any other role.

Grant Gustin looks good running in The Flash for this reason

One question Grant Gustin gets asked the most in interviews is about how he trains and physically prepares to play the Flash. During an interview on the "Today" show, Gustin answered that question, explaining, "I have a dance background which I think helps me a lot on the show." He elaborated on his background, saying, "I started as a tap dancer and I kind of did it all as a kid." The actor also let slip that his early introduction into dance was in an Elvis-themed tap group which toured around Norfolk, Virginia.

Though tap dancing might not translate exactly to Gustin's role as the scarlet speedster, he told DC alum Michael Rosenbaum on an episode of his podcast "Inside of You" that it helped him become very aware of his body. As a result, dancing has helped him look good running on camera. "That's the thing I'm complimented most on, it's just like 'Man, you really know how to move your body.' I really think it's my dance background ... it's one thing I have a pretty good grasp on, like how I'm supposed to look," he said.

Ironically, though, the actor hated running when he was growing up and actually quit playing soccer because of it. But, now that he plays the fastest man alive, Gustin actually shows other speedster guest stars how to run properly — it should be the opposite arm to leg, people.

Superman is the actor's favorite superhero, not the Flash

Growing up a diehard Superman fan, Grant Gustin is the first to admit that the Flash would not have been one of his top superhero picks to play on screen. Speaking on Michael Rosenbaum's podcast "Inside of You," the superhero actor admitted that he would regularly argue with a school friend that Superman was far superior to the Flash.

Of course, now he couldn't imagine his life without the scarlet speedster. "He's grown into being one of, I mean probably, up there with Superman now, just because I'm so emotionally attached to the character now," he admitted. Gustin also noted that he would have never turned up his nose at playing the Flash or another superhero. "I don't think I also was, you know, at the time like 'Oh, I'd rather play Superman or Batman,' because I never thought I'd be any superhero," he explained.

As evidenced by his t-shirt in the photo above, Gustin still proudly displayed his love of Superman while promoting "The Flash" at Comic Con. However, he certainly ended up finding common ground with his character, who was fawning all over Oliver Queen and the Arrow when he first turned up in Starling City. "I love that the character, himself, is kind of a fanboy ... I relate to that. That was my favorite thing during the audition process, the awkwardness and the fanboy inside of him that I definitely can relate to," he told ET.

He loved the original Arrowverse crossovers but admitted to one thing

For several years, while "The Flash," "Arrow," "Supergirl," "Legends of Tomorrow" and even "Batwoman," were on TV together, the superheroes would have annual team-ups to save the world. These crossovers started with Grant Gustin's appearance on "Arrow," before he guest-starred on "Supergirl," and later introduced Melissa Benoist's superhero Kara Zor El to Stephen Amell's Green Arrow in the 2016 "Invasion!" crossover event.

The crossovers were impressive to watch, and with each one raising the stakes higher than the last, it's not surprising that the ratings for each of the Arrowverse shows always increased as a result. However, as thrilling as the star-studded crossovers were for viewers, they weren't always easy for the actors. "It's something I'll cherish for the rest of my life, and it's definitely not as glamorous as everyone thinks it is," Gustin explained to Entertainment Weekly

The actor revealed that he had to be glued into his mask for 12 hours at a time during the first crossover, "Flash vs. Arrow" in 2014. This didn't bode well for Gustin, who said that he began the first day of shooting by filming a scene that had him sobbing, making his mask very uncomfortable for an upcoming fight scene. "My whole mask was getting spongy, and it was terrible," he recalled. "I just remember being tired and beat down and mad about being in the mask and excited for the next episode."

The Flash kept him from pursuing other projects

Thankfully, the issue of Grant Gustin's soggy mask was quickly rectified, and he's since enjoyed spending years in his Flash costume. However, playing the scarlet speedster for the best part of a decade has come with a few other downsides too — namely, the time constraints which have stopped Gustin from pursuing other projects outside of the Arrowverse. Speaking to Michael Rosenbaum on "Inside of You" in 2020, the actor explained: "The past four hiatus' now I've had a hiatus project that has fallen through because of 'Flash' so I feel like there's a lot of other opportunities out there — like film and stage — that have gone away because of schedule conflicts, you know, so you just can't have everything. So, it's been all 'Flash.'"

Although Gustin acknowledges how lucky he is to play the fastest man alive, saying he has no regrets. "I would never trade off where I'm at right now to be somewhere else in my life or in my career." "The Flash" star was finally able to break his streak of canceled hiatus projects in 2021 when he starred in the biographical drama "Rescued by Ruby," which premiered on Netflix in 2022. The movie follows Gustin as Rhode Island state trooper Daniel O'Neil, who dreams of joining the K-9 search and rescue unit. With some hard work and the help of his rescue dog, Ruby, he's finally able to achieve his dream.

He's a husband and a father

Alongside building his career and acting profile, Grant Gustin has been busy building a life for himself off-screen. In 2016, "The Flash" actor met physical therapist and sports trainer Andrea 'LA' Thoma in 2016 at a dinner party hosted by the Sabah Tourism Board in Malaysia, per According to the news site, the pair hit it off and started dating almost immediately after.

Two years later, in 2018, Gustin and Thoma married in a beautiful ceremony surrounded by family and friends. To mark the occasion on social media, Gustin posted a picture of himself and his new bride walking down the aisle, with the caption simply noting the date, "12.15.18" alongside a heart emoji. The couple then welcomed their first child, a daughter named Juniper Grace Louise Gustin, in 2021, per People. Currently, the family of three — or six, including their dogs Jett, Nora, and Rookie — split their time between Vancouver and Los Angeles, according to Gustin's Instagram.

LA Thoma thought Grant Gustin's proposal was a joke

"The Flash" actor never publicly announced his engagement to LA Thoma in 2017, but Grant Gustin did share a snap of the happy couple on the beach, with LA sporting a stunning diamond ring. Although he didn't post a caption alongside, this is the first picture Gustin posted on his page showing LA wearing the ring, suggesting they got engaged in April 2017. Days later, Gustin posted about his excitement at seeing the Lakers with his fiancé.

Judging by these pictures, fans might assume Gustin's beachside proposal went smoothly and was totally romantic, but according to the actor, his wife-to-be actually thought the proposal was a joke. Speaking to Conan O'Brien on his talk show "Conan," Gustin admitted that his proposal happened spontaneously after his plan to propose while filming a movie in Costa Rica fell through. "I forgot the [engagement] ring was in my backpack. We were sitting on the beach afterwards, I thought she saw it. It turns out she hadn't ... It was such an impromptu proposal and random moment that she thought I was joking, actually, when I proposed," he admitted. "It was obviously not a very good proposal. She laughed at first. But then she did say yes." And the rest, as they say, is history.

Grant Gustin and LA Thoma had two wedding ceremonies

In December 2018, more than a year after their hilarious proposal, Grant Gustin and LA Thoma tied the knot. They celebrated the occasion with a 1920s-themed wedding with their family and friends at their side, per E!. Although this was their one and only legal wedding, Gustin explained on Instagram that the couple had "a beautiful, symbolic Kadazan ceremony to honor LA's ancestors" while on holiday in Malaysia in December 2017. He spoke out to set the record straight after rumored reports that the couple had a secret legal ceremony while on their vacation. They visited Thoma's family in Sabah, the place where they met the previous year.

Gustin and Thoma count their legal ceremony in December 2018 as their official wedding date, and to celebrate their two-year anniversary in 2020, Gustin shared a sweet message for his wife on Instagram. "Love you more now than I did then. Truly. You inspire me to be better every day. Whether that means doing the dishes in a timely manner or just having more confidence in myself. I don't know who I'd be without you," he gushed.

Grant Gustin likes to hang out with his famous friends

Grant Gustin loves spending time with his co-stars. This includes Candice Patton, who plays Gustin's on-screen wife Iris West-Allen in "The Flash," and Tom Felton who guest starred on the show's third season. Gustin often sends his fans into a flurry of excitement when he posts snaps of himself hanging out with his famous friends — like Felton — on social media.

Gustin also spends a lot of time with "Supergirl" star Chris Wood who he met when they were both studying musical theater at Elon University. The pair have been best friends ever since, with both of them occasionally posting throwback photos to that time in their lives. Wood, and his now-wife Melissa Benoist, who played the titular superhero (and is also a close friend of Gustin's), were front and center at Gustin and Thoma's wedding and the couples spend a lot of time together. Gustin shares Wood and Benoist's love of musical theater, and says their household, which is just like a constant musical, is something to marvel at. "My wife wishes she can sing but cannot," he added enviously (via "Inside of You").

The actor has been candid about his mental health

"Since probably four or five I've dealt with anxiety and depression," Grant Gustin said while speaking openly with Michael Rosenbaum on "Inside of You." After this initial statement, the actor went on to speak candidly about his mental health and the struggles he's experienced his whole life, saying that it wasn't until he and LA Thoma got engaged that he really started working on himself. "Before we got married, we started doing couple's therapy just to be ready for marriage ... and then all kinds of things for both of us [came] to the surface ... I knew I had always dealt with anxiety but getting pinpointed ideas of where things started and why you're feeling that way [helped]. Anxiety is ever-present in my life, for sure."

Gustin has also spoken on social media about the progress he's made by focusing more on himself, which physically has included working out more and building muscle. Ahead of "The Flash"'s seventh season, he detailed his journey and noted that as a result "Flash is gonna have a little bit of beef on his lanky frame," per Instagram. "But more importantly I feel much happier and more present than I have in a long time," he added.

The actor is a vocal supporter of his long-time friend and Arrowverse co-star Chris Wood's mental health charity I Don't Mind, which encourages open conversation around mental health.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

He wants to play another superhero after The Flash

Season 9 of "The Flash" marks the superhero show's last season, making it the longest running show in the Arrowverse, as "Arrow" ended after eight seasons, "Legends of Tomorrow" finished after seven, and "Supergirl" concluded after six. Grant Gustin confirmed the news on Instagram, announcing that filming for the final season began in mid-September 2022.

As much as the cast, crew, and fans have enjoyed "The Flash," it was always inevitable that it would come to an end. Gustin has often discussed what the future might hold for him in interviews, and he's voiced a few ideas. Surprisingly, he doesn't want a dramatic change after "The Flash," and is open to another superhero role. "People assume I would never want to do something like ['The Flash'] again, but I'm open to that. I would play another superhero. If I was lucky enough to get to do that, or another genre-specific thing," he told Backstage. "I've always been attracted to sci-fi and the genre world. Maybe this role will help open those types of doors for me, and I'm definitely down for that."

Gustin's not worried if another superhero role doesn't pan out though, because he also has big ambitions of debuting in a play on Broadway, so he may return to the theater one day.