Five years ago today, One Tree Hill alum Shantel VanSanten made her debut on The CW’s The Flash, as CCPD officer Patty Spivot. Yet despite being built up as a love interest for CSI Barry Allen, and thus the third side to a triangle involving Iris, Patty wound up gone in a veritable flash, bum-rushed onto an outbound train midway through Season 2.
While speaking with TVLine recently about her turn on another (and very different) superhero show, Amazon’s The Boys (where she plays Butcher’s ex-wife Becca), VanSanten shared that her time on The Flash was cut short by an irritated showrunner.
Now to be clear, VanSanten had zero illusions about Patty being endgame for Barry. Quite the contrary. “There are foundational cornerstones in every comic book that fans really are invested in and want to see, and Barry and Iris ending up together was always going to be the ultimate,” she acknowledged. (Candice Patton’s Iris West for the first half of Season 2 was dealing with the return of her mother, Francine, and discovery that she has a younger brother, Wally.) “I got to be ‘a few stops on the train ride,’ and I am so grateful, because playing Patty was so much fun. We just had the best time.”
That “best time” as a guest star, however, was cut short when VanSanten booked a role on another show (the timing suggests USA Network’s Shooter) — this despite the fact that she had arranged to finish out Season 2 of The Flash.
“I don’t think it was supposed to end as quickly as it did,” she said, alluding to the 11th episode of Season 2, in which Patty bid Barry adieu and hopped a train to Midway City U., after learning of his secret identity. “I don’t know if a whole lot of people know this, but I actually worked it out with my contract so I could finish the whole season and be around. But a showrunner that’s no longer on that show was very upset with me, and so he put me on a train all of a sudden, and I left.”
Andrew Kreisberg was one of The Flash‘s Season 2 showrunners; come November 2017, he would be fired by Warner Bros. TV in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate physical contact. That season’s co-showrunners also included Todd Helbing (who was with The Flash through Season 5, and now is in charge of The CW’s Superman & Lois) and Aaron Helbing (who left The Flash after Season 3 to head up History’s Knightfall).
WBTV declined to comment on VanSanten’s claims.
After getting shown the passenger-train door, VanSanten says she figured, “OK, he’ll cool down, and then I can come back eventually… but so many seasons have passed, and Barry is in such a different place as a character now that it would be an odd divergence from the story.”
Even so, “It was a bummer that somebody allowed their own personal feelings to come in the way of what was best for a story,” she said. “I’m glad that person’s gone, and they’ve resolved so many of the issues on the set that were because of him. I’m still friends with a lot of the cast, and that feels great.”
Describing the time she was on The Flash, “fun” is the word often trotted out by the actress. “That show had elements of being a badass, fighting bizarre sharks with gorillas and all sorts of good stuff,” she said with a laugh. “But then there was this aspect that was like a really funny rom-com” with Patty and Barry. “I felt as though they were so similar, and it is fun to see that in a female form, somebody that’s like him.”
Between The Flash and now The Boys, VanSanten has brushed up against superhero greatness, and yet she herself has never had the chance to “suit up” — and mind you, Patty in the comic books at one point takes on the mantle of the motorcycle-riding hero Hot Pursuit.
“It would be so much fun” to do that, she effused. “I’m crossing my fingers that maybe the run of playing the human being in these types of shows will come to an end, and I’ll get to don an awesome suit one of these days. But I feel so grateful for all of the different shows that I’ve gotten to play in, because the messages that I’ve gotten to tell through each character are powerful. I’m really fortunate for that.” (With reporting by Vlada Gelman)