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SAN DIEGO -- The Continuum continues a series of roundtable interviews with the Smallville cast and producers from Comic-Con International last weekend with Cassidy Freeman, who returns in Season 9 as Tess Mercer.

Question: Can you talk about your character's interaction with the Zod character coming up?

Freeman: Our interaction is quick to be shown. Episode One, the two of us are together, and it's been really fun getting to work with him, because Callum (Blue) is the new kid, and I got to rub it in his face, that this year I wasn't the new kid anymore. But I've unleashed him. I've followed all of the orb's orders, and I've unleashed him, and I don't know yet whether I've done a really good thing or a really, really bad thing. It's leaning towards really, really bad. So, when we interact, we both hold our cards super close and we're both very protective of our motives and what we're going to do next, and it's a nice back and forth between us intellectually.

Question: After what happened in the season finale, is Tess going to re-hire Lois at the Daily Planet?

Freeman: It was kind of a rough one, wasn't it? There's actually a scene around whether or not she's going to be re-hired at the Daily Planet, and I may or may not be wielding a bo staff in said scene. I don't think that it would be the Planet without her. I'm not saying that I would voice re-hiring her, because I'm still kind of upset by that Tomahawk kick off the desk. She hit me across the face with a wooden box holding a Legion ring! Of course she's going to be at the Planet.

Question: Can you talk about any more Tess vs. Lois fights that we have coming up?

Freeman: Erica (Durance) and I joke about the fact that women on this show can't be friends, and we don't really understand why. Because women are friends, and Erica and I are friends. She is such a dear. But we've only had one scene this season so far. I think that Erica, Justin, and I all getting upped in episodes this year, there are a lot more people to be juggling. I don't know how the writers do it. They must have a white board the size of Texas that they throw ideas up on.

Question: How many episodes have you been increased to?

Freeman: This year, I think 17.

Question: What are Tess' goals for the season?

Freeman: End goal, she wants Superman to be Superman. Her end goal is the end goal of every fan out there. She speaks to the masses. She's just willing to kill people to get there, which is a bit different, I hope, than the masses. A little bit. All of you people out there, don't kill people. She wants him to come out because she wants him to save the world.

But now, she's kind of screwed herself, because she listened to this orb. Why would you listen to an orb? Another piece of advice: If there's an orb talking to you, don't listen to it.

Question: How difficult is it to play Tess' moral ambiguity?

Freeman: It's awesome, and it's actually a lot easier to play the ambiguity than it is to play the dead-on, one emotion. It's not really believable when someone is just evil all the time. It's much more believable when you go back and forth, because it's human. It's how we all are. We all have good thoughts and bad thoughts, and we act on both at some times. They might not have the same stakes that Smallville has, but we also don't live in Metropolis. I would rather play the ambiguity. It makes it more human for her.

Question: Is Tess aware of what Clark has been doing around the city?

Freeman: She's not really too concerned with Clark right at the beginning of the season. She's really trying to cover her own ass. She's really kind of screwed the pooch on this one. But, yeah, I think she knows what's going on.

Question: Have they hinted to you at all if you might be meeting Lex at any point this season?

Freeman: They have not hinted such things to me. I don't know where Lex is. Lex is gone. Lex is dead, but not dead. Lex is in the vortex.

Question: So her obsession with him is over?

Freeman: Yeah. He still played a huge role in her life, but I think in the middle of last season when he betrayed her, she cut all feeling of having to be there for him, or having to do anything for him. He burned that bridge. She is over it, so over it.

Question: Some of your other actors are directing this season. Have you considered pursuing directing?

Freeman: Directing? It's a lot of work, and I know that. I know that because at the end of last year, we all came in ideas and tried to help out, because we had to shoot that season finale really quickly. I was trying to sit there and think "If I had to do this, what would I do?" It's a lot of work, and I don't think that I have enough experience to do that yet, but I think it would be really fun. I think you have to do it to know whether or not you'd like it, as well.

Question:Who's better, Tom Welling or Allison Mack, as a director?

Freeman: They're very different, actually. Allison speaks very much to a woman, because she is a woman, but she's also much more about the emotion of things in your story and your emotional journey. Whereas Tom leaves that up to each actor individually, but as an overall, he has a really great idea of everything that's going on, and he's so calm when he directs. My favorite thing that he does is at the end of each shot, he'll tell the actors to take a take just for them, and just go for it -- whatever that means.

Question: How much of those moments does he used?

Freeman: He says, nine out of 10 times. He may be emellishing it. It might be a little much. But I don't doubt it. Once you take the pressure off an actor to stand right and do this or whatever, you get a much more organic response.

Question: With such a large ensemble, is there anyone that you don't work with as much this year?

Freeman: Yeah, I think with our episodes, we often don't work with each other. I haven't worked with Tom yet. I don't even know when we're going to meet up again. Tess and Clark have not seen each other yet this season so far. And I don't work with the ladies very much, either. I work with a lot of assistants, like my minions.

Question: Will there be any more power struggling between Tess and Oliver this season?

Freeman: Absolutely. As there said on the panel, Oliver kind of takes a back seat in the beginning. He's sort of on this road to "I suck and my life means nothing." But there will absolutely be tension, because we still have a company together.

Question: What's your favorite part of playing Tess?

Freeman: It's not the shoes. I'll tell you that right now. My favorite part is not the shoes. My favorite part of playing Tess .. I'm going to think about this for a second. I love when she gets to laugh. I really like that. It doesn't happen very often, and it's never in a full joyous laughter kind of way, but it's almost a conniving way.

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