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Flash Star Brandon McKnight Dishes On The Show's Evolution In Season 7 - Exclusive Interview

Beginning with The Flash season 7, the shape of Team Flash is changing. Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) are two people, there isn't a constant Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) around, and, because of last season being cut short, there's an extra mini-arc to wrap up. But maybe most important of all, we've got new series regulars aboard, including Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton) and Chester P. Runk (Brandon McKnight).

Recently, we got to sit down with McKnight to talk about his upgrade to season regular and discuss a little bit of Chester's past, where his future is headed, and just how much the show is going to change this year. McKnight also has a background in horror stories, so we made sure to have him weigh in on the best of the scary Flash stories, too. And since McKnight has worked on both The Flash and Guillermo del Toro's Academy Award-winning monster romance The Shape of Water, we asked him maybe the most important question of all time: Who would win in a fight, Doug Jones' Amphibian Man or King Shark?

On Chester building relationships with Team Flash

You're now on The Flash full-time with a cast that's been in it for six seasons. What's it like working with a well-oiled machine like that, that's got such a big fandom?

Well, it's definitely different for me because it's weird going to work for more than a week and seeing the same people, the same crew, and actually learning people's names and remembering them, having to remember them. But it's also been very easy because everybody's been doing it for so long, you know what I mean? So it's not like everybody's trying to figure it out, it's more so me just fitting into this machine that already works very well. So it's been different for me, but also a bit of a blessing in the fact that I have six, seven, eight other people to show me exactly what we're doing, how we're doing it, and they're so used to it. So it's just fitting into a mold right now, really.

Chester and Allegra have had a chance to bond up, but what are we going to see as far as the evolution of relationships between Chester and the rest of Team Flash as the season progresses?

Chester's definitely going to be taking on more of a larger role as he becomes more and more confident throughout the season. We're going to see him come into his own and learn things about him and learn things about his past. We'll see where Chester breaks. He'll be challenged this season, for sure, and he'll have no choice but to become more confident in himself and in the decisions that he makes, especially in this world where things are hitting the fan every day. And this is a guy who's a bit of a pacifist, doesn't really like violence, so he's going to have to become accustomed to that lifestyle and those things happening. And what to do and how to think clearly in these situations. So he definitely becomes a lot more confident throughout the season.

How's his relationship with Cisco?

It's definitely a fun working relationship. Cisco is pretty much Chester's mentor, in a way. He really does show him the ropes. They're both in awe of each other and they're so impressed with each other. Chester's impressed with Cisco for obvious reasons, I mean, the guy's a genius and he's been helming this team since the beginning. And here's Chester coming in with all this knowledge that he doesn't even really know what to do with. And so Cisco really helps him fine tune his brilliance and instead of just making things with trash, now I get to make things with billion-dollar technology and tools and stuff like that. But then on the flip side of that, Cisco can now see trash or will be able to see trash and see "Oh, you know what? This isn't trash, we can create something very helpful with these products that I otherwise would have thrown out." So they definitely feed off each other, but it's definitely much more of a mentorship type of role that Cisco takes on for Chester.

On Chester's potential powers

Most of the characters have some kind of metapowers, Your character had some abilities. Are we going to see them manifest again?

Here's what I'll say: I don't know. We will see what happens with that. We will see if they eventually develop into something or if that was just a one-off moment. I don't actually know. That'd be great, though. I would love that.

What else has Chester got that he's going to bring to the table that we haven't seen on the show before?

Well, one thing that Eric told me early on — Eric Wallace, the showrunner — was to think about Chester as he's the most empathetic person in every room that he walks into, he just doesn't know it. He's also the smartest person in every room that he walks in, he just doesn't know it. So in terms of his intelligence and not just his intelligence in building stuff, but also his ability to empathize with people and to help people through whatever emotional state they may be in. He doesn't realize it but he's almost a little bit of a... I don't want to say a motivational speaker, but he can really lift people up because he's so positive and because he feels everything. So he's definitely a very good support system for the team as well, outside of just his intelligence and his engineering and all the science stuff. Definitely a support system.

Chester's friendship with Cisco

Iris will be back in the picture and she's been away for a while. And obviously, she's coming back into a state of real chaos because Barry had this brief blip of being hyper-intelligent and also kind of evil. So is there a support there? Do they get a chance to build a relationship or friendship?

You'll definitely see Chester and Barry build more of a relationship as the season goes on. As we saw in the first episode of him thanking both Chester and Allegra for helping him save the day in a way, trying to figure out the Artificial Speed Force and all that stuff. So we'll definitely see their relationship build. As for Iris coming back, there's going to be a lot of different things that everyone is dealing with, with that happening. Everybody's trying to figure things out and everybody's trying to put things back together and move forward because this whole arc that's going on right now really messes with everybody, especially with Iris being gone for so long. So it's not so much Barry leaning on Chester or Chester leaning, it's really everybody leaning on everyone to try and rebuild what they had.

Is there any other relationship in particular where you've gotten a chance to work with an actor and you feel like what you're doing is exciting and you're excited for people to see it?

Me and Carlos Valdez. I love shooting scenes with Carlos, especially because both of the characters, like I said, they build this friendship and they're both these big nerds. And they both just relate to each other and me and Carlos both have a great deal of energy when we're on set as well. So it's always fun shooting those scenes and I can't wait for people to see a lot more of that stuff because it's just two nerds nerding out and having a ball doing it.

Did you get to name any villains?

There'll be tons of villain-naming, for sure, definitely look forward to that.

On the future of Wells and the possibility of aliens

We've had a lot of Wellses over the years and they did the thing where they killed them all, but we also knew that they weren't going to really kill them all. And then all of a sudden, the original Harrison Wells pops up on top of a grave. What is that going to be like?

For Chester, he's mind blown over everything. As for the team, that's definitely something that's going to play a role in, like I was saying earlier, everybody coming back together and trying to figure things out and how to move forward. The new Wells that everybody knows but nobody really knows, if that makes sense, definitely plays a role in helping us understand the climate that the universe is in right now and the things that are possible and not possible. And without giving too much away, he will definitely play a key role in future episodes, in us figuring out how to do some really cool things. He's definitely going to play a very important role, not just in terms of actively doing things to save the day, but also as a mentor for the entire team as well because this Wells is in touch with certain things that we don't fully understand yet.

On Legends of Tomorrow, Sara Lance got kidnapped by aliens. Are there going to be any aliens in The Flash? What would Chester do if an alien walked up to him?

It's so funny, when I first auditioned for the show, I was given two scenes. One of the scenes that we saw was my first episode in 601, where I'm in the garage doing the whole streaming Twitch thing, and the second one was how obsessed Chester is with aliens. That whole black hole machine that I created was to contact aliens because I was just obsessed with this idea. So I personally would love to see some aliens, especially for Chester's sake, come into The Flash so that we can see that side of him as well, because that's where my character started. But as for are we actually going to see any aliens? Just got to wait and see, I guess.

How will The Flash season 7 work after a shortened season last year?

I've been curious just because of the way things shook out. Obviously, things had to wrap up early last season, so we still have last season's villain. How much longer is that going to go? Is there a new villain waiting in the wings?

Oh yeah, Eric Wallace has a lot of stuff in store for people. He's doing the whole graphic novel thing, so the first half of the season is one graphic novel, the second half is another. And then there's all these B story plots as well that go on that are really interesting. So in a way, it's like we get three chapters this season because you have the whole Eva McCulloch situation that's going to wrap up early on. And then we go into another really, really big thing that I'm really excited for people to see, and I'm really excited to see myself as well. And then the last half of the season, which will technically be the third graphic novel of the season. But the fourth episode is what would be the beginning of this seventh season if COVID didn't happen.

You said something about exploring the past and I'm wondering how that's going to play out just because there was Post-Crisis, and I feel like some of Chester's story might have changed a little bit. I feel like we don't really know for sure what his deal is. He mentioned Rao at one point and somebody was like, "Is he a follower of Rao?" What's up with him?

Here's my best way of explaining Chester, and I've said this before: Chester is a fan of the show who's on the show. So he's been watching everything that's been happening before he was discovered, before everybody knew and this is all happening in the same world. So he's tapped into things that all the superheroes that are in this DC TV universe, everything that everybody's going through, he's been watching and loving and doing whatever little research he can do on it. He has, in his mind, an encyclopedia of everyone. He knows who everyone is and where everyone is and where this person comes from, what that person's doing. And what that person's abilities are, everybody from the heroes to the villains.

King Shark, The Shape of Water, and horror movies

I have a very serious question that only you can answer and when you answer it, think about it, because it's going to be the answer forever.

Oh God, okay. This is a lot of pressure. Let me drink my coffee, hold on. Okay, I'm ready.

If King Shark got into a fight with Doug Jones, Amphibian Man from The Shape of Water, who would win?

Oh God.

Keeping in mind that once you make this call as the person that's involved with both, it's a fact for life.

We're saying King Shark versus Amphibian Man?

Right, King Shark versus Doug Jones, Amphibian Man.

Here's the thing, King Shark's been working out, man. King Shark's been working out. Do you feel me, man? He eats his protein, he eats those eggs. You know what I mean? But King Shark has been working out and I pray to God if I ever meet Guillermo again, he doesn't get too upset with me saying this, but I'm going to have to give it to my boy King Shark. I got to give it, he's got the sharp teeth, he bench presses, he's big. I got to give it to him.

Actually, I realized that you've done a couple horror things and I feel like the cool thing about The Flash is that it can be scary. If you look at The Flash, what do you think is the scariest thing? Scariest villain, scariest thing that you've seen on the show so far?

Bloodwork. That whole arc I thought was insane and there was that one episode where him and Barry are having a internal battle and Barry's going through all the... The entire episode is basically just a vision that Barry is going through in his head and I just thought that was incredible. That was one of my favorite episodes of the show, like period. First of all, horror is my favorite genre. So seeing that implemented in the show, just it grounded the show a lot to me and it also just, it was just so interesting to see Barry go through that and everybody bleeding out their mouth. I loved that. And I hope we get to see a lot more of that. If Chester got wrapped up in something like that, that would be great to play.

The superpower you wish for vs. the one you'd get

If you could be a part of any horror franchise, anything, what's the one you'd want a crack at?

If I could go to the past and be part of something, The Conjuring series to me is some of the best directed and well written horror that... I love horror that feels... I want to feel like I shouldn't be able to go to bed tonight. I want to believe that this happened and somebody just filmed it. So I would love to have been part of the Conjuring series, and I also would have loved to have been part of The Blair Witch Project because for a very long time, I thought that was real. And I was like, "How did we get this, where are these people? How come this isn't on the news?" I really thought it was real, so that would've been a great thing to be a part of as well.

What is the superpower that you would love to have? And what is the superpower, if you're being honest with yourself, you would wind up with?

You've asked the right and wrong person this question, because I can go in with this. Superpower that I wish I could have or dream to have would be... Okay, I have two answers and I'm going to give you two answers to one question. One would be the ability to control gravity or to be able to manipulate gravity to some extent, because if you think about the universe, everything that happens, happens because of gravity. So that puts you in like some upper echelon type of thing where you can do whatever you want in a way.

You could win every fight for the rest of your life.

Everything, you're OP. So that or something along the lines of Doctor Manhattan, which is also extremely OP.

So you just want to be naked all the time?

I just want to walk around free, feel the breeze. Also, glow blue, that's cool too. What I would probably wind up with, man, I don't even know. I would end up with something really weird, like I'd be Squirrel Man or something like that. Just really quick running up trees, not really able to do much. Oh no, I'd probably have endless... Ooh, that's weird that I'm saying that because that's what Chester's powers are in the comic books. I was going to say, I'd probably have like endless hunger because I love to eat. So I would just be eating on a regular basis and I would be able to eat everything and not gain any weight. That's where the difference comes between me and Chester in the comics.