Why Kevin Smith Was Nervous Returning to Direct ‘The Flash’

Jacob Bryant

Last season, Kevin Smith reached out to the CW to ask if there was a chance he could direct an episode of “The Flash.” He ended up helming one of the final episodes of Season 2, “The Runaway Dinosaur,” which turned out to be one of the strongest episodes of the show’s sophomore run.

“These gigs to me, I love them to death,” he said to Variety in a recent interview. “I get to exercise any impulse I have to be involved in the caped action and drama — and it keeps me away from those big a– movies which is probably best for everybody.”

Tonight, Smith’s second episode of “The Flash,” titled “Killer Frost,” will air. He says, “When I went back that many months later it was like no time had gone by.”

Here, Smith talks to Variety about returning to “The Flash,” why he was nervous, plus what to expect in tonight’s episode…

What was it like returning to set?

The style of the show is already set. You can’t change that. And all these actors know what they’re doing and know more about their character than any visiting director can possibly know. At the end of the day, there is not much you can bring to it to change it, or ruin it. What I bring to it, which is why I got to come back and also do “Supergirl,” is boundless enthusiasm. I direct that show like I’m a baptist preacher on coke. It’s like where saving the world as much as making an hour of television, and that’s because the subject matter is so close to my heart. The writers do such a fantastic job. They’re soap operas for people like me.

Superhero soap opera is exactly how I explain the show to people.

Absolutely, it’s episodic in nature. The Honest Trailers folks over at ScreenJunkies did a “Flash” trailer for the TV show and they nailed it calling it “Dawson’s Creek” with capes. It’s soap operas for young men, but it stretches beyond that which is what I love about these shows. You don’t have a demographic.

How did you feel about the first episode you directed for “The Flash” in Season 2?

“Runaway Dinosaur” came at a great time. I had been to Sundance in January promoting “Yoga Hosers” — and critics sh-t all over it — and people were going, ‘This f—ing idiot doesn’t know how to direct.’ And then “Runaway Dinosaur” came on, and the tune changed. People said, ‘Oh, this f—ing idiot does know how to direct, he just chooses not to on his own time.’ It bought me a little credibility.

I thought “Runaway Dinosaur” was one of the strongest episodes of a really strong second season. Were you nervous coming back and having to follow it up?

Oh, totally. I was trying to line up all the the ducks in a row to be the exact same experience. I made sure I had my crew again — the folks I shot with the first time — and then Zach Stentz wrote the episode “Runaway Dinosaur” so I said, ‘Zach, you’ve got to write my episode.’ Originally I was supposed to do episode 5, and Zach did write that episode, but I was doing “Yoga Hosers” press and had to miss it. Instead of doing [episode] six, I waited for that odd-numbered crew and did [episode] seven, but I didn’t get to do Zach’s script so I was terrified, thinking, ‘Oh God, Zach was the magic feather and without him this is going to blow.’ So yeah, I was very paranoid.

“Runaway Dinosaur” was an important episode for Barry, and judging by the promos — and the fact that the episode is titled “Killer Frost” — this seems like an equally big episode for Caitlin. Do you prefer the episodes that are more focused on a single character?

I’m happy with whatever they give me. I was happy with “Runaway Dinosaur” because it was so tied into my favorite episode of the show, the Season 1 finale, that it felt like a spiritual sequel. The “Killer Frost” script couldn’t have been more different. “Runaway Dinosaur” played like a Berlanti-verse version of “What Dreams May Come” — it was lyrical, kinda beautiful, had the idea of facing ones own mortality. “Killer Frost” is like a Grisham thriller and a bit of an action movie. The pace that I was going for was “Three Days of the Condor.” That’s lofty, and I never shared that with the cast and crew, but based on the nature of the story, it’s about someone who knows something that no one else does and they’re trying to get this information before anyone else. It allowed me to tell a story that I would never tell in my own world.

“The Flash” airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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