Rick Bentley

Hollywood Notebook: Franz Drameh’s career is real Firestorm

Franz Drameh plays Jefferson “Jax” Jackson, half of the super hero Firestorm.
Franz Drameh plays Jefferson “Jax” Jackson, half of the super hero Firestorm. The CW

London-born Franz Drameh grew up reading comics and was a big fan of Batman and Wolverine.

“Batman is my favorite-favorite,” Drameh says. “My dad was a big comic book fan and so I grew up surrounded by that medium.”

Now he’s been completely enveloped by the comic book world. He’s playing half of the superhero Firestorm on the new CW series “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” Firestorm is actually the blending of two people, Jefferson Jackson (Drameh) and Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber), into one big fireball of a hero.

This pairing was introduced on “The Flash.” The new series features a group of heroes and crooks put together by time traveler Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) to stop an immortal villain.

The way Firestorm is portrayed is that we see Jackson but hear what Dr. Stein is saying in his head. Sometimes Garber records the lines to play while Drameh is performing. Other times it is just a member of the crew.

What makes the pairing so interesting is that the characters couldn’t be more opposite. One’s a science genius who has a few years on him; the other is a young former sports standout.

Drameh has been working since 2008 when he landed a role on the TV series “Parents of the Band.” His other credits include “Hereafter,” “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Attack the Block.”

Most of “Legends” will deal with the team traveling through time to stop the bad guy. That means Drameh’s character will end up in time periods such as the ’50s, when social issues were explosive. Race matters will affect his character far more than his fellow time travelers.

“Being a young black man in the ’50s definitely creates some issues for Jefferson when we go there,” Drameh says. “That brings a level of realism and drama to the show. That’s always fun for an actor to play. And, the fact we are going through so many time periods is a lot of fun because I’m getting to experience those different times.

It’s rare to get to play in a lot of time periods on a show. But, it’s great to get to see how all of the characters react to the different thinking.

Franz Drameh

The other big difference between “Legends” and any other work Drameh has done is all of the flying he must do as Firestorm. It didn’t take long to realize that making flying look easy takes a lot of hard work.

“You can’t just hang there because it would look ridiculous,” he says.

What helps is the seven years he spent with the London Youth Circus where he did the flying trapeze.

Special salute

Six-time Grammy Award winner Glenn Frey will be honored at “The 58th Annual Grammy Awards” that air at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15, on CBS47.

The late musician’s Eagles bandmates – Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh – will join Jackson Browne to perform a classic hit.

After school special

Jack Cutmore-Scott had no idea what was going to happen after graduation from Harvard.

“I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my life and no plan. I didn’t before graduation, either, but definitely not after.” Cutmore-Scott says. “I moved to New York, and I was living in an apartment. I think over the course of two years I had 18 different roommates, sort of just like a revolving door on my apartment.”

It became quickly apparent that he wasn’t any different than his friends. That’s why the British actor feels so comfortable as the lead actor in the new Fox comedy “Cooper Garrett’s Guide To Surviving Life.”

The Sunday night series starts with Cooper (Cutmore-Scott) in a mess of trouble. Then the show backpedals to show what happened to Cooper and his buddies Barry (James Earl), Neal (Charlie Saxton) and Josh (Justin Bartha) to end up in the hot spot. The characters’ lack of a plan is easy to understand.

“The scariest thing is coming out and thinking that you’re missing a trick, that anyone has everything figured out and someone forgot to tell you how your life is supposed to work,” Cutmore-Scott says. “And to be with these people who equally lack a clue is both comforting and dangerous, and that’s kind of what the show is about.”

It’s about these people we want to spend time with, we want to see them figure their lives out, safe in the knowledge that they don’t have any clue what they’re doing, so we don’t have to feel like we have to either. That’s what spoke to me so much.

Jack Cutmore-Scott

To be completely honest, the big thing that spoke to him was getting to star in a network TV show with little experience. His TV and film résumé includes a role in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and the TV movies “Cabot College” and “The Go-Between.”

The show’s creator and executive producer, Jay Lacopo, wasn’t worried about the lack of experience.

“We wanted to sort of create this high-concept comedy, but ultimately with television, it is the actors and the characters that people want to spend time with, and so we just sort of wanted to put great actors that you want to spend time with in these circumstances and have the audience enjoy the ride,” Lacopo says.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

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