The Jay Garrick mystery was a huge plot throughout Season 2 of The Flash. Teddy Sears played a Jay Garrick who was actually named Hunter Zolomon and had stolen the real Jay's identity. John Wesley Shipp played the real Jay Garrick, a man who is actually Henry Allen's Earth 3 doppelganger. It's hard to image anybody else as either incarnation of Jay, but it turns out that another actor was originally set to play him: Rick Cosnett, who went on to play Eddie Thawne. Here's what Cosnett had to say about what his original role had been on The Flash:
They thought I was going to be Jay Garrick for the pilot, but I guessed they changed that.
The Jay Garrick of DC Comics is actually the first superhero speedster to be known as the Flash, so Rick Cosnett would have had a huge role going into the very first episode based solely on the character's legacy. The character he did end up playing was an original written for The CW series who didn't have decades of comic lore to his name, so Eddie may have felt like something of a step down. Considering that Eddie ended up getting to save the entire world from a supervillain in the end of his first season, however, I'd say that Cosnett still got to play a hero. Rick Cosnett made the above reveal that he almost played Jay at this past weekend's Heroes and Villains Fest in San Jose.
Eddie Thawne may not be a character with a long DC comics history, but his surname connected him to one of Barry Allen's most famous nemeses. Comic fans knew going into The Flash that the villain Reverse-Flash also goes by the name of Eobard Thawne; it seemed likely that Eddie was going to end up an enemy of Barry's. They were romantic rivals from almost the very beginning, and it was entirely possible that "Eddie" was just The CW's way of giving Reverse-Flash a more normal name than "Eobard."
Few of us could have guessed early on that Eddie would be the good guy who would make the ultimate sacrifice and save the world. In fact, Eddie was arguably the big hero during Season 1. Barry ended Season 1 setting off a singularity that would result in death and destruction; Eddie gave his life for the good of those he loved. Bravo, Eddie.
The Flash Season 1 would have gone very differently if Rick Cosnett had played Jay Garrick, whether he was the Hunter Zolomon fake Jay or the real Jay. If Cosnett had played the treacherous Zolomon version of Jay, we likely never would have gotten Tom Cavanagh's awesome performance as the man who tricked Barry into trusting him. If he had played the real Jay, we might not have gotten the "Holy crap!" moment of discovering that Earth 3 Jay Garrick was actually Henry Allen's doppelganger. It might have been fun to get the original Flash himself in Season 1, but Eddie and his connection to Reverse Flash are a big part of what made Season 1 so successful. As far as I'm concerned, the only sad thing about Cosnett playing Eddie was that Eddie died in the first season and wasn't back as a regular in the second.
The Flash returns to The CW for Season 3 on Tuesday, October 4 at 8 p.m. ET. Check out our breakdown of what we know so far about Season 3, and take a look at our fall TV premiere schedule to see when your other favorite shows will be back.