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Friday, January 17, 2003


Following is an edited transcript of the Smallville portion of The WB Press Tour in Hollywood last weekend.

QUESTION: They were talking in the first session of the day about the ability of The WB casting director and how she's found some really new people that worked out really well. Tell us how that went from your perspective. You've done these Judging Amy episodes, and just when you first came in to talk to her, just before auditioning, what is that experience like as a newcomer and talk to her and go through that?

TOM WELLING: My experience with The WB casting was great. For me, there was very limited knowledge or very limited information let out at the beginning of what the show was about. So I was very reluctant on even coming in on it. There was a very big casting process that went on, and ultimately I was called in with the idea that if I liked -- if they liked what I did with the audition, I was able to read the script, which is what happened. I read the script and, you know, then I sat down -- I think we all had a meeting with some questions about the material.

But, yeah, it was great. I see The WB casting as not so much as my experience with them, which was fantastic, but what really made it spectacular for me was when I arrived in Vancouver and I met my castmates who, besides Kristin, I had only met in the read-throughs to get the role. We all met in one day, and we all got along so great. And after the first week of work, that's when I think I realized how great the casting was.

QUESTION: And apparently what she [Kathleen Letterie] does, she likes to sit and talk to you, not just audition, but just find out what kind of people you are too.


QUESTION: So what was that like when you first sat there and chatted with the casting director, what's that experience like?

TOM WELLING: It's a great experience. She really wants to know who you are and how you feel about the material, your take on it, and it's a great process to be a part of.

QUESTION: And just one other thing on that. This was a big leap because you hadn't done that much acting, and it turned out that you were in some very heavy angst and so forth before the year was out. Did you have confidence that you could do it? Were you working on the acting as it went along? Or how has this evolved for you as an actor?

TOM WELLING: I think there's a little bit of faith in myself and a lot of on-the-job training and a lot of help from my castmates. And that's the truth. I mean, we still on a daily basis will run lines and give each other ideas and tips and it's a very collective process and it's a great thing to be a part of.

QUESTION: And just one other thing on that. This was a big leap because you hadn't done that much acting, and it turned out that you were in some very heavy angst and so forth before the year was out. Did you have confidence that you could do it? Were you working on the acting as it went along? Or how has this evolved for you as an actor?

TOM WELLING: I think there's a little bit of faith in myself and a lot of on-the-job training and a lot of help from my castmates. And that's the truth. I mean, we still on a daily basis will run lines and give each other ideas and tips and it's a very collective process and it's a great thing to be a part of.

QUESTION: Tom, did you film the episode with Chris Reeve yet?

TOM WELLING: No, that's next week.

QUESTION: Are you looking forward to it?

TOM WELLING: Of course. It will be an honor just to be in the room with him.

QUESTION: Kristin, you do Smallville and Edgemont, and they're both fairly demmanding, and I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about trying to juggle the demands of two series and how long you think that could possibly go on.

KRISTIN KREUK: I only work on Edgemont on Sundays, so it's pretty much worked out that I work Smallville during the week and then Edgemont on Sunday. And I don't know how long the show is going to keep going for. It might be its last year this year.

QUESTION: Can the producers talk about how they got Chris Reeve to do the show?

AL GOUGH: You know, when we created the show, the first film was sort of our touchstone. And I think for us the big sort of revelation was the first hour of that movie, where you did not see Superman in a suit, but you got to understand him as a person, really helped us sort of lay the foundation for this show, which, of course, no flights, no tights. And so the idea of, "God, wouldn't it be great to get Christopher Reeve to be involved in the show?"

So as we were arcing out this season, we knew we had this character, Dr. Swan, who's going to give Clark a big piece of information about his origin. And we called his agent, and, you know, introduced ourselves, pitched him the idea and said, "Would Chris have any interest? I don't know how he feels about being involved with Superman any more. You know, he was wonderful in the film. Would he be interested in being a part of this show?"

He called Chris. He said Chris was a fan of the show. He had watched it. His friends tell him that Tom looks like a younger version of him when he was a young man. And so we called him up. And we had a wonderful, you know, 45-minute conversation with him and sort of pitched to him the character, and the character sort of role in the -- not only in the episode, but also in the series, because every hero needs a wiseman. And that's really his role in the show, and it's sort of a passing of the torch from one generation of Superman to the next.

QUESTION: Is there a chance he could recur?

AL GOUGH: Absolutely, and he is open to doing that.

QUESTION: Michael, another question about The WB casting. One thing she said she always liked your sense of humor and she cast you in a bunch of comedies -- or seen you in a bunch of comedies. How surprised were you when she suddenly said, "Hey, how about playing Lex Luthor?"

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised that they wanted to give me an opportunity to come in, and then they said it was 700 people that came in.

AL GOUGH: Kristin was the first person we cast. Tom was the second. Michael was the last. And Lex Luthor, for all of us, was sort of in a weird way the hardest character to get your head around because you have to take the name "Lex Luthor" out of the equation. And we saw a lot of different people.

MILES MILLAR: But in our minds we always imagined a comedian.

AL GOUGH: We always imagined a young Michael Keaton. It's somebody who has a certain sort of humor, but a certain sort of edge and sort of darkness.

MILES MILLAR: But the funny story is Michael came in initially.

AL GOUGH: Michael came in early in the audition process and read and wasn't well that day.

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: I just didn't really care at that point. Everyone handed out scripts. I didn't know if it was going to be another Lois and Clark, you know.

AL GOUGH: No, no, it's true. And we sort of went down the road with some other people, you know, and we were at a crossroads. And I think it was like two weeks before we were shooting, and Kathleen said, "Why don't you look at Michael again?" And we said okay. She said, "Just look at him again. I think there was something there. He wasn't well the first time. Bring him in again." And he was fantastic.

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Well, here's the thing: They said 700 other actors had come in for this role, this audition. And I thought to myself, "What are 700 other actors doing wrong?" They go, "Well, this is what they want. The producers want charisma. They want a sense of humor. They want danger."

So I went through the two pages of script that they gave me, and I said, "I'm going to be charismatic right here, show a little humor here, sense of danger on page 2." And I went in there, and I was having a good day. You know, you had your coffee. I had a good night's sleep. I knew my lines. And I went in there, and I remember the casting director was like, "Can you move over a little bit?" I go, "You know what? I don't want to" --

AL GOUGH: Michael goes, "You know what? This mark, I'm not going to stand here. And when I go up to shake your hand, shake my hand. Don't treat me like I'm some..."


AL GOUGH: And you always have a casting, like, assistant whose job is the video camera and they stand there. And there was this poor woman who was -- you know, who was born way before the digital age was going like [motioning] so we watched the videotape, and took it into Peter Roth's office at the studio and showed it to him, and he was, you know...

MILES MILLAR: He was waiting for the danger.

AL GOUGH: He was waiting for the danger and then he saw the danger. And there was everything else. And that was it, but it was the hardest role to cast and obviously a big linchpin.

MILES MILLAR: And in terms of casting this show, we had the luxury of casting -- finding cast in December. Most shows start casting February or March.

AL GOUGH: Which I think was a huge benefit because, you know, it's not like it was picked up in September, so we did have that luxury. It's not like now, where most pilots are being picked up now, and then for the next three weeks everyone is going after the same talent pool.

MILES MILLAR: We had a nationwide talent search. That's how we found Kristin in Vancouver.


MILES MILLAR: In terms of her, tape came in over Thanksgiving. We all watched it all, immediately fell in love with her, and she came in two weeks later and she got the role. That was a rare instance that we had one person go into the network.

QUESTION: Good guys and heroes are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, but a really good villain is the stuff of legend. What are the villains that you would like to pattern your Lex Luthor after? What are the villains that you read as a little boy that you wanted to emulate?

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Wow, that's a good question. From watching the Superman movies, I was always a big Lex Luthor fan, you have to love Gene Hackman. You can't get around that. I was scared to think people were going to say, "He's not Gene Hackman. He's not this." I was really doing a character before the character was developed. Everybody was seeing Lex Luthor as a villain.

I wanted him to have a vulnerability, a reality to this character. So I just wanted to play it real and go with the writing that they were giving me and just trust it. But, you know, I just think I got lucky.

AL GOUGH: Also, the best villains don't believe they're villains. They believe they're totally in the right. And I think that's what Michael brings to it. And he's basically a young man trying to find his way in the world with a father who is basically crushing him at every turn.

I think the great thing with Lex is you always think, "Oh, God, if there were moments that went another way, would he have turned out differently?" And I think Michael just brings a real subtlety to a role that could very easily be over-the-top.

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: And I can't think of any villains offhand that I just looked at and want to -- and Christopher Walken always plays a good villain. Doesn't he, Tom? I love Christopher Walken.

TOM WELLING: I don't know, Michael.

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: We always do dueling Christopher Walkens on set. It's like Tom's closeup at the end of the day. It's like midnight. He's like, "Just come on, give me some energy. I'm so tired. Just play off camera. Do your Walken." So I'll go, "So, Tom, 'Wow, Clark, you're so big and strong. Wow.'"


TOM WELLING: He's not joking.

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: I will. And the director just lets it go. And Tom starts laughing, and I start laughing and there's a brand new energy. And he does the same thing for me. He'll start doing stuff. He'll do impressions of me off camera. And we just have a good time.

QUESTION: Will John ever get his sight back?


AL GOUGH: Tune in. That's a very distinct possibility.

QUESTION: And how about Tom and Kristin's characters? Are they ever going to get together or his or Allison Mack's character?

MILES MILLAR: That's the dance of the show.

AL GOUGH: That's the dance of any romantic drama. It's the guy and the girl and, you know, the obstacles you put in their path to keep them apart. And in the mythology, Clark Kent doesn't end up with Lana Lang. So it's a brilliant thing about Superman and Smallville: It all ends badly.

QUESTION: This show evolves really substantially from the first few episodes and there have been some sort of mid-course corrections, sort of getting away from the kryptonite bad guy of the week. What do you think were the key changes that you made in terms of tone?

AL GOUGH: Well, I say I think there was much made of the sort of kryptonite villain. And basically what we were doing in the first seven episodes was establishing the world of the show for viewers who were tuning in. I think if you start looking at the second half after Episode 8 of last year, I think you saw the dimension of storytelling get more interesting, and we were telling different types of stories.

MILES MILLAR: There was generally a concern that people would not be able to -- actually, there's so much mythology in terms of the meteorite-caused mutation that we really wanted to hammer that home, and maybe we hammered a little too hard, but…

AL GOUGH: But (the Internet) does give you a good barometer. And I think what they were saying to us is "Okay, we get it. You can now sort of move forward." Which is, as writers, is terrific, especially when you're doing -- doing weekly television. And I think, you know, we started looking at different situations, like what if somebody discovers Clark's secret and uses it against him, like the dirty cop did last year.

MILES MILLAR: And we made a conscious decision not to do anything science fiction in terms of the origins until Season 2.


MILES MILLAR: We really wanted the show to be based on reality and have a real grounding. So that was definitely a deliberate choice.

AL GOUGH: But there are a lot of that you want to do but you can't do in a first season, like red kryptonite was something to do.

A friend learning the secret was something we wanted to do. The episode where we went back to the day of the meteor shower was -- was something that we wanted to do. So you find that once you've sort of earned the audience's respect, you're able to sort of do these stories, and they will go there with you, which is great.

QUESTION: Do you have any sense of why the viewership exploded the second season?

AL GOUGH: You know, it's weird. It's just a total mystery. You don't know why more people tune in this year than last year. I'm assuming part of it is 'cause the network did a really terrific job of getting the show out there this summer. And people were able to -- you know, because it's a very tough hour. So I think people were able to find the show and -- and start to get invested in it. And, you know, when you look at this cast and this talent, it's great to tune in and watch every week. But it is, in some ways, it's a total mystery. It's great, but it's a mystery.

QUESTION: When you guys first started this, you talked a little bit about, "Gee, wouldn't it be neat at some point to have a young Bruce Wayne or a young Hal Jordan."


QUESTION: Has the show gone a different direction where that's no longer feasible?

AL GOUGH: I got you Christopher Reeve. What else do you want?

No, that is still something that we are talking about. It's always an interesting sort of situation at this time with Warner with the movie side. And a lot of times they dictate that as well as DC Comics. But bringing a young Bruce Wayne is something that we still want to do just so again, those two sides of super hero points. Quite frankly, it's something that would probably happen Season 3 or Season 4.

QUESTION: Do you feel like you've managed to slip into your characters, or are you still finding and discovering new things about your characters?

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: How come you're looking at me for the answers here? Uh, yeah. It gets easier. It definitely gets easier. You memorize the lines, the same, you know, big words, mego-maniacle…


MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: It just becomes part of you, you know. I learn it on the plane on my way from L.A. to Vancouver. And you wake up and it's part of you. You don't have to search for a character, but you're finding more out about your character every day. And I think it's easier for all of us than it would be just to start up -- 'cause the pilot and in the first few episodes -- we're all a nervous wreck, like "Are they gonna fire us?" or, you know, "Are we doing the right thing?" or, you know. So, uh, yeah I think we're falling into it more easily. Guys? Concur?

KRISTIN KREUK: It has gotten easier this year. I think I've spent a lot of time thinking about her and who she is. And this year I've kind of figured out a lot more than I did last year. So you do continue to learn more and more about our character as time goes by.

QUESTION: When you first came up with this idea, well, I remember thinking, you know, Lois and Clark has already been done. And what can they possibly do more with this idea of a young Superman. But it actually works pretty well. And I just was wondering how you knew it would work, and how you knew there was enough material here to generate a whole series.

AL GOUGH: Well, you know, it's interesting, 'cause people have come up to us since then. Once we sort of figured out how to crack the code, which was basically not put him in a suit, and sort of looking at that period in his life before he was a Superman. That's basically his journey -- that journey to becoming a super- hero. But so many people came up to us and…


AL GOUGH: ...and said, "Dude, I thought it was the worst idea I'd ever heard. How are you gonna do that?"

MILES MILLAR: Also we always loved the idea.

AL GOUGH: (But) we never believed it would be a hit show.


AL GOUGH: It was a surprise that we had total belief in it.

MILES MILLAR: Yeah. Which is odd for us.

AL GOUGH: Yeah. We're the most skeptical. But it's also something -- also just looking at it, we sat down and sort of read the history of Superman, which, for us, was sort of a relief, 'cause you're sort of, you know, shouldered with these sort of 70 years of tradition.


AL GOUGH: And what we realized is that Superman has been reinvented and reinterpreted, you know, throughout the decades. And also, for us, I remember it was two days before the show premiered, and Miles and I were at a diner, which is where we do a lot of our story breaking. And we said, "Dude, even if the show is a complete -- like, doesn't work, Superman has always worked on television."

MILES MILLAR: Or we said we could be the actual first people not to…

AL GOUGH: Yeah, we said, "Great. We'll be the first guys that will like, screw up Superman on TV.

MILES MILLAR: Right. I had no idea of Lana Lang or who she was or that she existed. So for us it was so much stuff to mine. We said to ourselves, "This show should go for broke." You know, why should we write films as well? This would be our -- our chance to do a TV show. And if it didn't work, we'd never do TV again. So we sat down and really went for it and really, you know, put our heart into the show.

QUESTION: It seems the success of the show seems to be supporting a lot of other history of young super hero shows. What do you guys think about that?

AL GOUGH: I think imitation is the sincerest form of television.


MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: And the cheapest.


QUESTION: How much are you plotting this in advance, and how much do guests turns or episodes that turn out particularly well inform where you go down the road or bring back characters?

MILES MILLAR: Well, we have five seasons in terms of touchstones films in where we know where the show should go. We have the season finales -- we're thinking ahead for the next, hopefully five seasons. So as the mid-act of those seasons as well. But in between we have, you know, we love to see guest stars, like we have this young kid Ryan, who was in two episodes who just blew us away by his acting, and…

AL GOUGH: He was so great last season that we brought him back this season. And I think what we sort of learned that you really need to do in TV is obviously have an idea of where you're going, but you have to leave yourself open to these sort happy accidents and surprises that occur.

John Glover, quite honestly, a total happy accident. He was a guest star in the pilot, and he was really terrific. And we were able tobring him back a couple of times during, you know, the beginning of the first season. And then he said he really loved doing the show. And then as we sort of built to the end of Season 1, we said, "Well, we should bring him in as a cast regular in Season 2.

Because really, you know, it's a show about sort of parents and children. And that really helped inform Lex. And he's just such a terrific actor. And he and Michael are so great together. That's a happy accident.

QUESTION: Will he be staying with the show beyond this season?


QUESTION: And the Jonathan Taylor Thomas character. He split himself in half and we only saw what happened to one half of him.

AL GOUGH: Right. There'salways the potential to come back. When we do these things exactly with the guest-star casting, we always try to leave open the possibility that if it works out…

MILES MILLAR: They can come back.

AL GOUGH: They can come back.

QUESTION: But no plans at this point?

AL GOUGH: For Jonathan Taylor Thomas?

QUESTION: Correct.

AL GOUGH: No, not at the moment. No.

QUESTION: Are you planning a cliffhanger for the end of this season as you did the first one?

MILES MILLAR: We're planning a big cliffhanger.

AL GOUGH: Yeah, we're planning a big cliffhanger. There's not really much we can tell you at this point. A, because we don't want to give it away. B, because there are still 10 episodes left to air and some of this wouldn't make sense if you hadn't seen the episodes that are coming up, starting next week.

QUESTION: How long can you maintain the story line that Clark is in high school?

AL GOUGH: In the proud tradition of "Grease" …


AL GOUGH: Aaron Spelling didn't seem to have a problem with 90210. I think they'll play through the high school years, and, you know, whatever it is, four years, and then we'll go from there. But I think that is one of the wonderful conceits of American television.

QUESTION: Internationally did you see a similar thing happen where the show has become more successful in its second year or internationally -- or was it a hit year one?

AL GOUGH: Internationally, it's interesting, because it's still rolling out. They're not on the same season that we're on.

MILES MILLAR: For example, their season starts in Great Britain next week, two weeks from now.

AL GOUGH: Yeah, Season 2 will start in Great Britain. Season 1 just started in France like two weeks ago, and it's interesting, because we've been sort of following it online, like it was huge in Italy. It had the biggest premiere in Italian television in four years.



MILES MILLAR: It's a Top 10 show in Australia.

QUESTION: So it sounds like internationally the show came out better in its first year than it did here in the States.

AL GOUGH: I -- well, the show actually did very well here the first year. Um, it was, you know, the second-highest rated show on the network. At the time it had the biggest premiere on the network until the second-season premiere. So, I mean, you know, the show was a hit here last year. And it's just -- and it's grown since then, which is really gratifying.

QUESTION: Tom, have you found out the certain places you can't go without being recognized, things like that?

TOM WELLING: Most places.

QUESTION: Most places?

TOM WELLING: Yeah. You know, obviously, you all know we shoot up in Vancouver and it's somewhat of a bubble there. I don't get a chance to leave very often. I know Michael leaves as often as he can. So he's able to enjoy the success of the show, I think, a little more face-to-face than I am. But even this morning when I flew in, I was at the airport, and this gentleman walked up to me and he said, "Hey, hey, hey, you're the guy from that show." And I said, "Yeah." And he said, "I really like your show." And I said, "Thank you." And he goes, "Well, I don't really like it. It's okay. But my son...


TOM WELLING: ... "my son really likes it. And I guess the reason why I'm saying this is because, you know, I don't see my son that often, and, you know, I get to see my son on Tuesday nights. I always know where he's gonna be and I go hang out with him for an hour. So, thank you." And then, there's -- you know, that's the great thing about it. You know, we're there working hard….

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Go ahead. Go ahead.

TOM WELLING: …enjoying what we're doing, but you know, but for people to enjoy it to that extreme, it's just -- it's a good feeling.

QUESTION: Is it hard for you to gauge when to turn Lex? And for you, Michael, are you looking forward to that?

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: I think it's just a lot of little things or a lot of big things along the way.

AL GOUGH: Right. It's not like suddenly he's twirling his mustache. I mean, it's gonna be events along the way. Some of them will be very small, and some of them will -- will be larger.

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Yeah. I think people, viewers, are embracing the character, because you know, he has his vulnerability. He's trying to be friendly. He's trying to, you know, show the world that he's not just a Luthor. And so as they see these giant, traumatic, positions that he's put in, you know, dealing with his father and his mother's death, and being bald as a kid, growing up having no friends. The more they embrace Lex, I think, when it does happen, it's gonna be pretty crazy.

I think the audience is gonna be really upset. And they can't hate somebody because they know why I'm evil now, or why I've become evil.

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