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Victor Garber on taking Firestorm to 'DC's Legends of Tomorrow'

Last Updated Jan 22, 2016 at 2:43 pm PDT

“First of all, who would have thought that I would be in this position at this time of my life? I thought I’d be a lawyer on ‘The Good Wife.'”

Victor Garber is definitely not on a law set. The elegant 66-year-old London, Ont.-native is sitting in a trailer, on a grey December day, speaking to a few reporters about “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” The series, which premieres Thursday on The CW and CTV, is a spinoff of two superhero shows shot on neighbouring Vancouver soundstages, “Arrow” and “The Flash.”

Fifty years to the month since “Batman” premiered, TV has become swamped with superheroes. From “Supergirl” to “Daredevil” to “Gotham,” comic book-based creations abound.

“Legends of Tomorrow” brings eight more superheroes to the small screen including Heat Wave, Hawkgirl and Captain Cold who come together to form a time-traveling super team.

Garber plays a character he originated on “The Flash” — Prof. Martin Stein, a.k.a. Firestorm.

“Somebody told me once if you ever get too comfortable, move. I’ve lived by that. It’s really important,” says Garber, who started his career in the ’70s with the legendary Toronto production of “Godspell” and has played many memorable parts including roles in “Titanic” and “Argo” (as heroic Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor).

He plays the bookish version of Firestorm, a nuclear physicist focused on transmutation. The superhero half of Firestorm, with the flames shooting out of his ears and hands, is played by British actor Franz Drameh.

“He has innocence and an honesty about him that’s rare for a young actor. Plus he has a flawless American accent.”

Garber says he did enough running and punching a decade ago in “Alias,” thank you very much.

“I surprised myself — I was more adept at it than I thought I’d be.”

Now he’s just happy to duck the odd punch and step aside for the stunt double.

Garber’s co-star Brandon Routh is also familiar with the superhero genre, having played the title character in the 2006 movie “Superman Returns.”

“Ten years ago, there was so much pressure and so much going on it was hard for me to wrap my head around all of it,” says Routh, who plays scientist Ray Palmer/The Atom.

Ciara Renee plays Kendra Saunders, a.k.a. Hawkgirl. Saunders has been repeatedly reincarnated and sprouts giant wings when the going gets tough.

“I told the director I was not afraid of heights,” says Renee, who has dangled on wires over Broadway stages in “Pippin.”

Other cast members include British actor Arthur Darvill, who plays roguish time traveller Rip Hunter, Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary and former “Prison Break” stars Wentworth Miller (as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold) and Dominic Purcell (as Mick Rory/Heat Wave).

The ultimate team leader on “Legends of Tomorrow” is executive producer Greg Berlanti, who is currently overseeing six network series. Actors and characters from “Legends of Tomorrow” will be pulled into cross-over storylines with “The Flash” and “Arrow.”

Berlanti is quick to praise the real superheroes behind “Legends of Tomorrow” — the Vancouver-based crew.

“They always deliver above what we give them,” says Berlanti. “Everything we get back is better.”

That includes production designer Ian Thomas’s main set piece, a gigantic, Jules Verne-like spaceship that skips through time.

“I feel like I’m in a very big motion picture,” says Garber of the set. Berlanti agrees, praising the local carpenters and crew.

“They treat these things like features.”

— Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont. While in Vancouver, Brioux was a guest of Bell Media.