Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Q&A: SMALLVILLE'S AL GOUGH
As Smallville streaks into the February sweeps, Al Gough, executive producer/creator of the series with partner Miles Millar, conducted a series of interviews about the show on Monday.
Following is The Continuum's interview, which has Gough talking about the sweeps and Christopher Reeve's upcoming appearance, as well as the Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man movies that he and Millar have worked on.
The Continuum: With the February sweeps coming up, there are usually events that trigger the rest of the season. Is that the case this season?
Gough: How we sort of break the season -- and some of this is dictated by our airing schedule; we were on for eight in a row and we were off what seems to me like 15 years between November and January and then we're back on from January until March 3 and then we're back on from middle of April through May sweeps. So we always try to look at the season as three acts and have an overriding storyline that at least helps thread you through the season. And then when you put all three of them together, they add up.
Obviously, the first one was Lex's descent into madness with Lionel. With this one, Adam plays a key role in that. And that sort of storyline comes to a head in Episode 16 and I think really turns over an interesting piece of the mythology for the show.
And what we did this time, as opposed to have Christopher Reeve at the end of the February sweeps, we used Dr. Swann to really kick off the last six episodes of the season, and get on off to Clark's mythology and sort of his quest.
It's a conscious effort to really thread these stories through the season, so you feel like once you've watched all 22, you've gone on a complete journey with the characters. The stories have standalone elements week-to-week, but when you watched the season as a whole, you see there is a big theme and big ideas running through it. At least that's the hope.
The Continuum: Adam was brought on for six episodes?
The Continuum: So things conclude with him?
The Continuum: What else is coming up in the February sweeps?
Gough: I think we've got some interesting ones. This Wednesday's is called "Velocity." You get some real insight -- which I know fans will enjoy -- into Pete. It's very much a Pete story.
He's someone who knows Clark's secret and it's testing that friendship and what happens when you get in over your head and your best friend is Clark Kent. What do you ask him to do? And how far will he go to help his friend? And then, what does that do to their relationship?
Then, "Obsession," is interesting because it's Clark and a girl with a Kryptonite power. He's very attracted to her -- he's saving her but she winds up saving him because of her powers. And it raises the question, if he doesnšt feel like he can have a relationship with Lana, does he feel like he can have a relationship with someone else who is different? And where does that go and how does that story turn?
It's an interesting dilemma that Clark would have in sort of the quest to find out who is ultimate going to be the woman for him.
Then the last two, "Resurrection" and "Crisis," really start to blow open the whole Adam story and what goes on with that. And I think there's some really good twists. Things that have been set up early in the season start to have some payoffs and you get a twist at the end of Episode 16.
The Continuum: Ian Somerhalder has done a nice job as Adam.
Gough: He has, hasn't he? He's done a terrific job. Adam's a good character for us and Ian's done a really job because he brings a totally different energy to the show than the other characters have. You feel there's a certain danger to him that isn't in the kids in our show, other than Lex, who's not a kid.
That's actually been a fun storyline and one that's turned out really well. What's also nice is it gives Lana something different and interesting to do. Look, I read the message boards as well. The Clark/Lana loft scenes are something the fans are kind of like, "OK, we get it. We understand."
So I think it's interesting just to see her in this relationship. It takes a very dark turn at the end of "Velocity." And I think you see Lana questioning at a very vulnerable point in her life who actually is this guy that she lets in.
The Continuum: You've shot the Christopher Reeve stuff?
Gough: The Christopher Reeve stuff is shot. We shot that in the middle of January in New York. Those scenes are shot for "Legacy," and the rest of the episode is shooting now.
The Continuum: Whenever he's involved, it's a big deal.
Gough: It's certainly big for us because we have to move from Vancouver to New York. This year, which I think is great, we shot his scenes in the New York Public Library, which doubles as his mansion.
I think the scenes have a scope which they didn't necessarily have last year when we were shooting basically in the basement. That was a fun way to introduce him, but now we're able to step it up a bit. And he's got a scene with Lionel, which is great, because it's two titans circling each other.
And there's an interesting scene with Clark where he sort of calls him on the carpet a little bit about his actions over the past year since he found about his origins.
It's a great relationship and I think we sort of put Dr. Swann a little more firmly in our mythology, so he doesn't feel like a guy who doesn't just drop in every now and again. And he's certainly set up to come back in Season 4.
The Continuum: Speaking of seasons, how does this one compare to the first two?
Gough: On a purely production level, and a writing level, each season gets a little bit easier, and I think especially this year, when our writing staff is much more seasoned. I think we're able to do new and interesting stories, and that's been the most fun this year.
You know, a third season of a show is very tough. You've turned over a fair amount of cards -- how do you keep in fresh? And, also, the characters are growing up. So you're dealing with that as well.
I mean, Clark Kent in Season 3 is a much different kid than Clark Kent in Season 1. So you get to go to some different places with him. The great thing about Tom (Welling) is that he keeps rising to the challenge. Every time we throw something at him, he just takes the ball and he runs with it.
Certainly, we opened the season in a way we haven't done before. "Perry" was certainly a terrific episode for us, as well as "Shattered" and "Relic." "Relic" is one that people stop me and tell me they enjoyed that episode. We had our fingers crossed on that one. It was a little out there, but I think you got to see a very interesting part of the mythology and you got to see that Clark arriving in Smallville wasn't by happenstance. There was sort of a grand design to all of this.
And now, going into sweeps, we get to tell some very interesting stories and some darker stories, especially when you get into the Luthors. And that's been a lot more fun. Lex is definitely taking a darker turn this year with all of his being institutionalized and dealing with his father and dealing with Clark. You get to see that descent a little more, and I definitely think it got sped up this year.
The Continuum: Obligatory question time: will you or are you considering using more DC or Superman characters?
Gough: Always. It's just a matter of timing and do they fit into the story lines and mythology that we want to tell.
The Continuum: But nothing concrete at the moment?
Gough: Nothing concrete at the moment.
The Continuum: You have another DVD for Season 2?
Gough: We do.
The Continuum: Have you started work on that?
Gough: Oh, yeah. It's going to be great. I think we were all in agreement that the features on the Season 1 DVD were a little thin, which I think is always the case when youšre in the first season of a show.
This year, they're really terrific. We've got the cast doing commentaries on a couple episodes, Miles (Millar) and I do some commentary, we've got a featurette on the visual effects and a featurette on Christopher Reeve. I think the Warner Home Video gang has really stepped up, and I think it's going to be a really great set.
The Continuum: That's coming out in the spring?
Gough: Some time in the spring. I don't have a street date.
The Continuum: Off of Smallville to end things, it sounds like the Iron Man movie is cooking along.
Gough: It's at New Line, and they're very excited about it. Now, they're trying to get an actor and director. Avi (Arad of Marvel Studios) wants to make this movie, as does New Line, which is very exciting.
It was a very tough script to write. But we're very happy with it. Tony Stark is a very interesting character, and certainly, for us, something different than Smallville or Spider-Man.
The Continuum Have you gotten to see any of Spider-Man 2?
Gough: Honestly, I've just seen what you've seen. I have not seen the movie yet. I think they've got a new trailer coming out this spring, which will knock everybody's socks off. They do a great job, and it looks great.
E-mail the Continuum at RobAlls@aol.com
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