Tuesday, May 6, 2003
Q & A: SMALLVILLE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER ALFRED GOUGH
THE CONTINUUM: The network sent out loglines for these final two episodes, and it's like "Clark decides if he's going to rule world." Can you put some of that into perspective?
GOUGH: I think what you're going to see in the last two episodes is the information from "Rosetta" is going to come to a head. We'll hear the voice of Jor-El, who is going to be played by … I won't tell you who it is, but it will be meaningful to Superman fans. And, again, Clark will start to try to take the first steps to his destiny.
The question is, what is his destiny? Is it what he's read on the ship? Or did he misread it? And how does he react when that happens?
So I think you're going to see a lot of the things that Clark's been looking into this year: the cave and the ship and Dr. Swann. All of that is going to come to a head in the season finale.
THE CONTINUUM: Is it a cliffhanger?
GOUGH: Yes, it is in that you spin all the characters in different directions and sort of set the table for Season 3. But it will not be a cliffhanger in the sense of last season, where Season 2 opened three minutes after Season 1.
We will open Season 3 three months later, but all of the characters will be in radically different places.
THE CONTINUUM: Jor-El is someone who might be of note to Superman fans. Hmmm…
GOUGH: I will let you speculate away. (Laughs).
THE CONTINUUM: Have you begun working on the third season yet?
GOUGH: We begin in June. We bring the writers back in June. And we'll start breaking stories then. Everybody's taking a well-deserved break right now.
THE CONTINUUM: Did you write the last one?
GOUGH: Yes, Miles (Millar, Gough's partner) and I wrote it.
THE CONTINUUM: Is that kind of a tradition for you?
GOUGH: Yeah, we like to write, certainly, the season openers and the season finales and episodes like "Rosetta" and other episodes along the way. We sort of have to oversee all the episodes and do rewriting on every one, some a little and some a lot. But we like to write the season openers and season finales ourselves.
THE CONTINUUM: Can you talk about Tom Welling's growth as an actor from Season 1 to Season 2?
GOUGH: I think it's been quite extraordinary, even when you look at Tom in the pilot, which we shot literally two years ago. And I think in Season 1 - and Tom said this himself - there was a lot of sort of on-the-job training.
I think in Season 2, he really locked and loaded onto his character. The Red Kryptonite episode, which was fairly early in the season, I just think he did an extraordinary job with that. I think that certainly showed us the range and variety of performance that Tom can give you as an actor.
I think he really inhabits that character now and just does an extraordinary job. Quite frankly, for someone who hadn't really acted before - he had been on six episodes of Judging Amy prior to Smallville - I think he's really come a long way.
THE CONTINUUM: There's a sense of confidence you see when he's on set.
GOUGH: He's somebody who works extremely hard. Being the lead of an action/adventure series is extraordinarily tough. He works more than any of the other actors because he's Clark Kent, and there's stunts and everything else. He works very hard and all he's interested in is getting better and getting the best performance he can on film. When you take somebody who has that innate talent and marry that with that sort of passion and commitment to what you're doing, you've got a superstar in the making.
THE CONTINUUM: You've developed such a large cast and you're putting them all through the paces. Will there be some kind of resolutions in the finales?
GOUGH: Yes. (laughs). In the season finale, there will be resolutions and then bigger questions, which is obviously always the goal of the season finale. Unless you're ending the series, then it doesn't matter. But we don't plan on doing that for a while.
THE CONTINUUM: Everybody's coming back for next season?
GOUGH: Correct, yes.
THE CONTINUUM: It seems like you're sliding a new character in there every three weeks or so.
GOUGH: Again, it's called Smallville and obviously there are other people in the world. It's certainly fun to add new dynamic and new characters. And if they work, it's great and you can keep them going.
The one we sort of laugh about and was fun this year was kind of fun was Sheriff Ethan, who kind of met his untimely demise in "Suspect." He was a guy who had been around since last year and had always done a good job. We sort of gave him a little bit more and a little bit more and then finally, much to his chagrin, we said that he's become so good that - we didn't kill him - but we are going to basically bump him off.
We had characters from Season 1 that we did that with, like Dr. Hamilton and Roger Nixon. We've had characters from this season: Dr. Walden is still out there. It's fun to do and see what these characters do and the places they can take your main characters.
THE CONTINUUM: You're on board for two more years. Do you have where you want to be by the end of Season 4 mapped out?
GOUGH: Yeah, we do. We know the beginning and the end of the season and sort of the milestones in the middle, and then you work on everything else with the writers in the room. We've got a terrific writing staff, and you want to keep yourself open to the best idea and take those ideas and shape them into the best stories that you can.
And then sort of leave yourself open to surprises. You can't get too locked in in television or else you might find that you've screwed yourself down the road a bit. If you're bound and determined to set yourself down that one path and you find the audience isn't responding to it…
THE CONTINUUM: You've kind of addressed this with Entertainment Weekly, but how does the new Superman movie play into your show?
GOUGH: We have one sort of rule, and we're worked this out. Paul Levitz (head of DC Comics) is sort of the man on the wall between the features and the TV division. Our sort of general rule is there are no other Kryptonians in Smallville other than Clark. That's because certain elements of the movies take place on Krypton and everything else.
Which is fine with us. The show is called Smallville. And we think we've got the best Kryptonian, so that's fine. But that's really been the only stipulation that's come down because of the movie. Everything else we sort of have dibs on and it's open season.
THE CONTINUUM: Are there other Superman characters, or even Bruce Wayne, that you're still looking at?
GOUGH: As we've said before, we'd love to have Bruce Wayne. And we're going to try like hell to make that happen in Season 3. We'd love to see Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. You won't see Lois Lane in Season 3.
But we'd certainly like to expand the world with other Superman characters. We have some fun ideas on how to bring them into our show. It's sort of like with Maggie Sawyer. It was just sort of a fun way to meet that character. And we wanted to see The Daily Planet and we thought that if Clark's going to leap a building, the first one might as well be The Daily Planet. We also try to keep ourselves open to those situations and bring those characters in.
THE CONTINUUM: The show seems more popular after Season 2 than after Season 1.
GOUGH: It is, which is great. It's very gratifying. And I not only mean that from Miles and myself, but from the writing staff and the crew and the cast. When you have a show which had a big first season and then come out of the gate so strong in Season 2, and I think we really hit our stride in terms of storytelling, and the actors were on top of their game and we had the right crew in place.
So I think we were not only able to take advantage of that momentum, but really use it to help build what I think has been a terrific season that we're proud of.
THE CONTINUUM: And DC's Smallville comic seems to be doing well.
GOUGH: I'm glad to hear that. All props to Mark Verheiden and Clint Carpenter there. Mark has been our sort of driving force from the show's end in terms of taking all of comics experience and his experience on the show and helping to shape that comic book.
THE CONTINUUM: How's the Iron Man script coming along?
GOUGH: Iron Man's coming along well. We're sort of knee deep in that. Now that we have the hiatus, Miles and I pushing forward on that. New Line is excited and Marvel is excited.
And we're very excited to be writing that. Tony Stark is a great character and, certainly given the world events as they are, Iron Man is also a very relevant character as well.
THE CONTINUUM: Are you under a gag order in terms of story elements and characters?
GOUGH: I can't say anything about Iron Man. (laughs).
THE CONTINUUM: I had to ask.
GOUGH: But of course. (laughs).
THE CONTINUUM: Are you under any kind of time frame?
GOUGH: The time frame in anything features and when it comes to these big franchises, is as soon as possible.
THE CONTINUUM: I think in releases they've mentioned wanting to release it in summer 2005.
GOUGH: From your lips to God's ears, that would be great. We just have our heads down writing the script right now.
THE CONTINUUM: It must be interesting for you to see all the Spider-Man 2 production snapshots on the Internet.
GOUGH: I told Avi (Arad, Marvel Studios), "I don't need to look at dailies. They're all online." (laughs) I think that's going to be a terrific movie, we're excited about that as well.
It's fun to work with DC and Paul Levitz, who have been absolutely great and supportive of the show, and then to sort of walk across the street and work with Avi and Marvel.
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