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“We Had Freedom to Change the Mythology:” An Oral History of ‘Smallville’

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 10/15/2021 Aaron Couch
© WB / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Twenty years ago, audiences believed a boy would fly (someday).

Smallville debuted on The WB on Oct. 16, 2001, just four weeks after the Sept. 11 terror attacks shook the foundations of the United States. Audiences tuned in to see a hopeful vision of America, with the pilot telling the story of an alien growing up in Kansas, facing the challenges of the teenage years while feeling different. The show was as much about parenting as it was about superpowers.

Smallville, from creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, starred Tom Welling, a young actor with the good looks and Midwestern decency needed to embody a young Clark Kent. Smallville ran for 10 seasons and 217 episodes, becoming a favorite among members of the military fighting overseas in the wake of 9/11 and helping pave the way for the superhero-saturated era we live in today.

Despite its success, creators Millar and Gough faced an uphill battle to get the show off the ground. Few in Hollywood were interested, and Welling didn’t even want to audition for the role (at first). After all, this was years before superheroes became the biggest commodity in Hollywood. But the duo’s heartfelt pilot script won over its actors, and the authentic performances of its cast won over viewers.

Here, the key players look back, with those sharing memories including Welling and the creators, as well as Michael Rosenbaum, Kristin Kreuk, John Schneider, Annette O’Toole, John Glover and Erica Durance.

THEY “COULDN’T WAIT TO GIVE SUPERBOY AWAY.”

In August 2000, Warner Bros. Television president Peter Roth approaches Miles Millar and Alfred Gough about developing a show about a young Clark Kent.

ALFRED GOUGH, co-creator The last iteration of Superman was Lois & Clark, and the last iteration of Batman was Batman & Robin. This was a nadir for superhero projects. The one glimpse of the future that was out that summer was the first X-Men movie. 

MILES MILLAR, co-creator The idea of doing a superhero show at that point — no one was interested. Warner Bros., the feature side, couldn’t wait to give Superboy away.

GOUGH When we signed on, the press was very dismissive of the idea of doing it.

MILLAR No network wanted to hear it. The WB didn’t want to hear it. The only network we thought was interested was Fox. When we ended up going to The WB it was sort of a surprise to us. I think it was a surprise to them as well, because they liked the pitch and were surprised they did. 

GOUGH There weren’t any comics on [Clark Kent’s teen years]. It was a blank slate. Jenette Kahn, who was the publisher of DC Comics at the time, said, “Clark is who he is because of his parents. If he had landed in a different cornfield and been raised by different people, he would have been a different person.” That was something that really struck us.

MILLAR We had the freedom to change the mythology, to really make it our own, with Lex losing his hair in the meteor shower — even the meteor shower itself, which was a new development. Anyone approaching that similar story today would not be allowed the freedom that we had, because at that point no one cared.

GOUGH We had a long time to cast the show. The WB bought the show in the fall of 2000 and we wrote scenes and then started auditioning people.

TOM WELLING, Clark Kent I was auditioning a lot during that period of pilot season, going out three, four times a day. Just trying to figure out what the hell I was doing. This show Smallville came along, and they weren’t releasing the script. They just wanted me to audition. My manager at the time says, “That either means they don’t have a script, or it’s not very good.” We turned it down.

MILLAR Tom’s headshot was in the office and he refused to come in. Finally, [director] David Nutter begged to see him.

WELLING He said I could come in and read the pilot script if I signed an NDA. I realized the show was not about Superman. It was about a kid in high school growing up and trying to figure out who he is. That’s a very human journey. I called a meeting with the producers and the writers because I wanted to ask questions. Somehow they accepted. I was terrified I was going to walk into a show where I’m running around in tights. I walked into this room. There are 15 people sitting in a semi-circle. It was like a counselor’s meeting or something. I sat down with this list of questions. “Who are the villains? What do they look like?”

GOUGH The fact that Tom is actually from Michigan, there is a certain Midwesternness to him that was great. He looks like what you think Superman will look like. He was a ridiculously good-looking guy.

WELLING The next thing I know, I come in for a screen test with Kristin. Kristin had already been cast, so I walk into the waiting room and it was me and Jensen Ackles, who I’d seen on TV before but didn’t know. I was like, “This guy is a real actor. I’ll never get it.”

KRISTIN KREUK, Lana Lang Purely from a physical standpoint, Tom looks more like Superman than Jensen does. That stood out to me. They were both wonderful. I remember David Nutter sitting me down and introducing me to Tom. We worked the scene a little bit. I think there was one scene in the graveyard. And he was a sweetheart. I was a kid. I was fresh out of high school, so it was all very foreign and strange to me.

MILLAR Zach Levi did an amazing audition for Lex. Incredible. We all went into The WB with Zach to be Lex. That audition was kind of a disaster. In leaving the audition, I remember thinking “Oh, that was the biggest chance of his life.” And then he went on to incredible success. So you just never know.

MICHAEL ROSENBAUM, Lex Luthor I had done other shows for The WB at the time. They said they are doing a show called Smallville. I thought, “Oh this is going to be cheesy.” They wouldn’t send me a script, and I wasn’t really interested. Finally they had me go in, and I didn’t care. When you don’t care, you just have this confidence that you’re not throwing all your chips in going, “Oh my God, I got to get this part.”

WELLING I’ve never seen you not care about anything you choose to do. What I think you mean is you weren’t attached to the result. So you were free.

ROSENBAUM  The casting director is like, “Sit here,” and I go, “Naw, Lex wouldn’t do that.” And she’s like, “Well I have to relight,” and I go, “Would you mind?” And she relit the room and I had to wait outside. I came back in and kind of just took over the room. I go, “What are 700 other guys doing wrong that you are auditioning?” And they said, “Well, we want a sense of charisma, we want a sense of danger, we want a sense of comedic timing.” I only had three pages to work with. I circled, “I’ll be dangerous here, I’ll be funny here, I’ll be charming here.”

GOUGH Lex was the last role we cast. It was a week before we started shooting. Miles was in Vancouver with David Nutter and I was still in Los Angeles with some of the other producers. Michael came in in Los Angeles. We videotaped it and he was just fantastic. He literally hit all the right notes and he was perfect. I remember we somehow got it up to Miles and David in Vancouver.

ROSENBAUM My agent called. “They want to screen test you.” I said, “I’ll never have an audition as good as I just had. Tell them to rewind the tape.” So he goes, “You’re going to lose this role. You know that.” I don’t recommend this to any other actor, and I would never do it again, but I said, “Rewind the tape.”

WELLING “Lex Luthor does not come back for a second audition, OK?”

ROSENBAUM Exactly. He just wouldn’t do it. It’s out of character.

JOHN GLOVER, Lionel Luthor I got a call from my agent that said they want you to play Lex Luthor’s father. “It’s one scene. But they might want you back a couple of times.”

MILLAR We never had any intention for him to become a series regular, but as you got into season one, it became evident that we needed someone for Lex to talk to. The show is a drama about different styles of parenting, and to not have Lionel there as a counterpoint to the Kents was a mistake.

ROSENBAUM Glover always said, “I used to get so annoyed with you on set. You’re running around, laughing and talking. And then I realized, ‘He’s doing this on purpose. He’s doing this because this is what Lex would do to his father.'”

ANNETTE O’TOOLE, Martha Kent The pilot had already been shot. They wanted to talk to me because they wanted to replace the actress who had played Martha Kent.

GOUGH There was another actress. She came in, she gave the audition of her life in the room at The WB. I think we all frankly knew she probably wasn’t going to work, and when we started shooting the pilot that became pretty apparent.

O’TOOLE They sent me the script and I was not interested in it. I knew it was going to be shot in Vancouver. I didn’t want to be away from my family because I had teenagers. I love Superman. Way before my involvement in Superman III [the 1983 film in which O’Toole played Lana Lang], I was a big comic book fan. I watched the pilot and thought, “Oh no. I’m doomed. I love this.”

JOHN SCHNEIDER Jonathan Kent I was asked nicely three times to come in and meet. It wasn’t until I read the pilot that I said, “Not only will I meet, but I will do whatever it takes to earn this role.”

MILLAR We shot the scene in the pilot where Lex’s Porsche hits Clark and he goes into the water on the same day that we shot Clark meeting Lana in the graveyard. It was such an incredible day of shooting.

ROSENBAUM In the pilot episode, we had this 12-ft water tank. Tom and I had to take scuba classes and ultimately they put me down in this car 12 feet under.

WELLING The thing was like 50 feet wide. It was huge. I remember showing up and thinking it’s like a movie. 

ROSENBAUM I started to have a panic attack. They closed the door and I just had to get out. I tried again and had another panic attack.

WELLING There was a safety diver with a valve. If Michael put his hand like this (Welling gives a signal) they would stick it in his mouth. OK, that’s great but you are still very uncomfortable. It’s a scary moment. You can’t see.

ROSENBAUM I go up to the surface, and Tom was relaxed. “Dude, we’ll get it. You can do this.” He made it really comfortable for me. In this murky water down in a car, weights are on you, you’re breathing into a tube. Tom comes in, he grabs me, he takes me out of the car, I go up and David Nutter goes, “That’s it, we got it.” One take.

WELLING I remember trying to figure out superspeed. They were like, “We don’t know. Let’s figure it out.” We did a couple of things. At one point I was on the back of a Ford pickup truck that, in the back, had a treadmill that I was running on. Obviously that was dangerous. That was how we did it at the beginning. Then heat vision, X-ray vision — we were figuring it out as we went.

ROSENBAUM My hair would start to grow throughout the day, so they had to really make sure all these colors were blended to make me look like I was bald so I didn’t have the hairline. The first couple of years it took two-and-a-half hours and after that I said, “You guys got to do this quicker.” Eventually they made it about an hour and 15, and I was able to deal with it.

WELLING One of the hardest scenes for me was in the pilot, where I open up the door and I say, “I’m Clark Kent and you’re in Smallville.” Or some version of that. I think we did that 15 times. Just because it’s a big moment. The moment that they chose really works. When I’ve seen it, I’m like, “Dude, this is a cool show.” That’s David Nutter not making a show that was rushed. He was the heart of the show.

ROSENBAUM  They made a beautiful Lex Luthor mansion. The interior. All the sets, like the Fortress of Solitude, they really went above and beyond to make this stuff look as real as possible.

KREUK I knew those sets, inside and out. We worked in that old warehouse for so many years. Lana’s apartment. The Kent House.

WELLING We had two full sound stages of standing sets, all the time.

ROSENBAUM The first couple seasons we didn’t have all that. So we were on exteriors a lot and they realized, “We’re killing the actors here. We’re killing the crew.” And they started building sets so we could be in-house more.

WELLING We demanded directors come in and give notes on performance. In 99.9 percent of all television shows, they do not direct performance, because there is no time or they don’t want to insult anybody. We got rid of directors that wouldn’t direct us. I needed it, because I was there all the time and I needed help to keep focused.

ROSENBAUM I helped you!

WELLING You helped me. John Schneider. Everybody helped me, because I needed it. We had a couple of guest stars — they would be directed and you could see them [thinking], “I’m sorry, what?” And I was like, “Dude, this is what we do here.” And they ended up liking it in the end.

ROSENBAUM Tom and I would go run lines in his trailer. We would look each other on set and I’d whisper after a take, “Do it again. Be better.” He would do the same to me. “You need to be better, man.”

KREUK There was a luxury of doing six takes-plus, purely for performance. I think they had to do it, because they had so many inexperienced cast, namely Tom, me and the younger actors who came in to guest star.

ROSENBAUM I remember when I was doing ADR [for the pilot], Nutter goes, “Do you want to see the opening of the show?” And I’m not kidding, my eyes filled up with tears. I walked out of the room and I called my parents. I just said to them, “People are going to recognize me. This is going to be a hit show.”

“THE TRAINS ARE BOOKED. THERE ARE NO FLIGHTS.”

As season one gets underway, the cast and crew are filming in Vancouver when the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks change the shape of the United States and put the series in a whole new light.

SCHNEIDER I was in a hotel room about half a mile from the set when I turned the news on.

O’TOOLE We were doing second unit on that episode with Dan Lauria, the one where he is the coach. I was supposed to go in and do stuff in the stands, watching Clark play football.

SCHNEIDER I got to work. Everybody was standing in the parking lot and nobody knew quite what to do. Do we keep filming? Do we stop? Nobody knew what this was yet. I think the second plane hit the tower when I was on my way to work.

GOUGH They didn’t stop shooting. America came to a grinding halt but in Canada they didn’t stop.

SCHNEIDER  We did decide to go ahead and film. There is a wonderful scene with Tom and I underneath the bleachers, talking in a very long hallway that is filled with confusion and support and love and awe and wonder. Not because we were such wonderful actors. It was because we didn’t know what in the world was going to happen tomorrow.

O’TOOLE This horrible thing happens and I’m just waiting all day for them to call me [to film]. I was a wreck. I couldn’t cry. I knew once I started, I wouldn’t stop and I had to be in the scene. It starts to get dark and the poor little AD said “Annette, we’re not going to get to you. Sorry.” And I burst into tears.

ROSENBAUM  I was in New York and flew out the night before it all happened. Many cast members called to check up on me because they weren’t sure where I was. It was a crazy time, a scary time. 

GLOVER I got a call on a Thursday [Sept. 13]. They said, “We need to get you up here on a Saturday.” I said, “The trains are all booked. There are no flights.” They said, “Rent a car and drive.” I turned the radio on to public radio stations. They were reading poetry. They were creating a calm about what had happened.

ROSENBAUM So many veterans have come up to me telling me how much Smallville helped them through tough times and that their whole platoons would watch Smallville together as a distraction to what was going on. I have been given flags and other gifts, and it just blows my mind.

SCHNEIDER Big burly vets will come up to me with tears in their eyes. If they get within ten feet I know these are folks who watched Smallville in Baghdad. What an honor that is to be treated with such regard from the people who have risked their lives for our freedoms.

MILLAR Before 9/11 the show was dismissed, largely. After 9/11, the show took on a whole new meaning. The show, visually and aesthetically, was a celebration of Americana. Deliberately in terms of the red white and blue of Clark Kent and the aesthetic of the town and the farm, it was the idyllic portrait of America. That went from something people could mock to something they really took comfort in.

O’TOOLE I would get stopped in the subway in New York. People would put their arms around me. Martha Kent is an iconic mother character. It was one of those shows people could watch together and unite as a family over something.

WELLING Clark threw a party and he got busted. His mom sits him down and she says she’s not mad at him. She’s disappointed in him. This is a scene where you could sort of say, “Hey, let’s get this over with.” The next thing I know she was talking to me and she put her hands on my shoulder and I’m about to apologize. And all of a sudden I start crying. I looked at her because I found myself confused, and she with her eyes was like, “Go with it.” It turned into a scene where Clark cries because he disappointed his mother. That was nowhere on the page. I’m very proud of that scene because it caught me by surprise. Without the love and support of someone like Annette, that emotion probably wouldn’t have revealed itself.

SCHNEIDER I had a line of dialogue in the pilot that said, “I want you to make sure you know where the money came from that bought that truck.” It is a great piece of writing. Al and Miles led you into kind of a cliché scene that ended with a  wonderful piece of parenting. I didn’t tell him no. I  didn’t forbid him from taking the truck. He saved Lex’s life and he wound up with a new truck. I hung the keys on the wall. I put them there so Clark could see them and really make up his own mind. That line of dialogue was wonderful. It showed a completely unique and wonderful way of parenting.

GOUGH We were in the midst of the first season and we got a call that Sony wanted to meet us about something. We were like, “We don’t have time.” They were like, “You really need to go meet with them.” We drove from Warner Bros. in Burbank down to Culver City. Matt Tolmach was the executive. We were in his office and at a certain point he said, “I want to take you over to the Spider-Man set.” They were doing some reshoots on the first one. It was the scene where the Green Goblin had that thing through him. He was dying and talking to Peter at the end of the movie. We met Sam [Raimi] and Laura Ziskin and Tobey [Maguire]. They loved Smallville. They had seen the pilot. The show had just premiered. They wanted us to write the Spider-Man sequel (Laughs.). We were like, “H*** s***.” You can’t say no to that job.

ERICA DURANCE, Lois Lane, joining in season 4 I was a background agent, so I was booking Kristin and Tom’s photo doubles a lot. At the same time I was part-time acting. I got a call to go in and read for Smallville. At that point I was ready to quit the business. My husband and my manager were just like, “Go in.” On Friday they told me I got it, and then on Saturday I was doing all these tests and final stuff. I didn’t know I still had to meet Tom, and if he hated me, I wouldn’t get the job. I just thought, “OK!” I was very green, very naïve. “This is amazing. He wants to get to say hi.” Apparently, I passed, because I was working on a Monday and the rest is history.

 

“I’M REALLY GLAD THEY CHOSE YOU.”

When it comes time to have Clark learn more about his Kryptonian heritage, the team enlists Superman legend Christopher Reeve to play Dr. Virgil Swan for the season two episode “Rosetta.”

GOUGH We got on the phone and talked. There was a lot of the Richard Donner ethos in the show, which he appreciated. He got on board, but he couldn’t travel to Vancouver, so Tom and Greg Beeman, who was our producer-director, went to New York and John Wells let us use a set in Third Watch.

WELLING  [Beeman] said, “Hey, so next week you and I on Thursday are going to fly out to New York and we are going to spend the night. The next day we are going to do a couple scenes in New York with Chris Reeve.”

GOUGH [Reeve’s people] said, “It’ll be half a day, that’s how much you get.” So we staged it very simply. Chris came in and saw the staging and goes, “I don’t have a lot going on right here, we could do something more.” We said, “Well Chris, we only have you for this amount of time.” He said, “You have me as long as you want. I’m here, I’m doing this.”

WELLING I was like a kid in a candy store. Meeting him was really great. He was only supposed to be there for a couple hours. He ended up staying for like six or eight hours until his nurses were like, “We’re going to unplug the lights, you guys. He’s got to go.”

GOUGH He shot an eight, nine-hour day. The fee he got for the guest star role went to his foundation as a donation, and then he wanted this PSA with Tom. So we did that.  And he was amazing. We were able to use the Superman theme, which was also great. That was a very big moment for the show.

WELLING If you watch that episode, he is so commanding given his situation. He can’t move yet he is so compelling. All that added to Clark’s emotion about what was happening. I remember in the end he says to me, “I’m really glad they chose you to be the next Superman.” I was like, “Well, they didn’t.” That’s when Brandon [Routh] had gotten the role [in the 2006 film Superman Returns]. And he said, “Well they should have.” I get chills thinking about that. It was so cool to feel like he had put the sword on my shoulders and knighted me somehow. It was very special.

GOUGH Then he came back for season three. We talked about him coming back for season four, and I remember talking to him. This was a couple months before he died. He said, “Yeah, I’m not doing that well. I can’t really.” He was very cognizant of what his medical situation was. That’s when we reached out to Margot Kidder after he passed.

DURANCE I did meet Margot Kidder once at a Comic-Con. That was very cool. I was signing cards and stuff. Somebody just grabbed my eyes from behind. I looked around and it was Margot Kidder. (Laughs.) She said, “It’s Margot!” I said, “I know who you are!” Then she goes, “You know what? You hit it out of the park, kid.” And I thought, “That’s a moment that was really cool for me.”

KREUK We worked with people for years and years. The friends that I’ve collected, and there are only a few of them from Smallville, are people I worked with — makeup artists, camera operators, those are the people who we saw every day.

ROSENBAUM Steve Oben was our wardrobe guy. I’d go, “I don’t want to wear a purple shirt again,” and he’d say, “I don’t care what you want to wear. This is what I was given. Wear it or don’t. It doesn’t hurt me.” He would always come up to us and say as he’s fixing our wardrobe, “You should do that [take] again.” Or he’d say, “I don’t know why we’re going again, that was perfect.” Out loud. Directors would hear him. He was just a personality. He was fun. 

MILLAR In certain sequences he used to stuff socks into certain people’s underwear to give them bigger bulges.

GOUGH That’s the great thing about a TV set. For any set, you’ve got to create a family.

ROSENBAUM The one thing everyone has me quote when I go to conventions is, “I am the villain of the story.” I always loved that line, a glimpse of Lex’s evil. He says it to Mrs. Kent. I got to really explode and show another side of me. It was nice being good Lex, but there was a time I would want just a taste of that evil.

KREUK The most fun episode to shoot was “Lexmas.” Michael and I had a good time working together and it was a nice change to me to play a different version of Lana, basically the version that existed in Lex’s mind.

WELLING Working with John Glover [on “Transference”] was amazing because we both referenced a movie that Nicolas Cage and John Travolta did with John Woo where they switched bodies, Face/Off. In the beginning of the movie they chose two or three distinctive things from each character and then when they switch bodies, the other actor does those cues very quickly so the audience goes, “Oh, I see. They switched.” I tried to pick two or three things that John does. When I watch the episode, I can see where I was doing it and then John had the difficult task of playing an uncomplicated Clark Kent.

GLOVER I was jealous of how well he did it. it was very hard for me to do what he did, which was sort of look like nothing. But because I’m me and he’s him, I felt like I failed at that, somehow. There was one scene I did when I was being him where I got emotional and a lot of people came and said “No, no, no, Tom never got emotional about anything.”

O’TOOLE I like the one where I sang the Jessica Simpson song. When it was a high school girl or whoever took over my body. I got to dance around and be silly and say some silly, outlandish stuff Martha Kent would never saw normally.

GLOVER I made two suggestions they picked up on. One of them was when they killed me, they should have Lex do it. The other one was if you film it on camera, I’ll let you shave my hair. I thought Miles was going to hit the roof of the makeup trailer. He was so excited about that.

DURANCE The first couple of years there, I just did whatever they told me to do. I do have a little water phobia. It was like I was drowning in four episodes in a row. In one of them I was paralyzed in the water. It came up over my head. It was a little much. I had so many scenarios that were uncomfortable in that show. Most of my outfits were really, really weird and uncomfortable. I had a pleather black suit that I wore for “Stiletto.” It was so tight and the boots were really high up my thighs. Those were tight too, on top. So I couldn’t sit down in the outfit, so they made me a dolly with an apple box on it and I had to lean against it all day.

SCHNEIDER When it came time for me to die, in the script they found me in the driveway already dead. I said, “I’ve read the Red Badge of Courage. I know the importance of someone dying with their boots on.” For a little while that night I was a fairly unpopular guy.

GLOVER Jonathan and I had that fight and Schneidy was so generous to me, teaching me how to do it all and then the fight gave him a heart attack.

SCHNEIDER All the writing staff did an amazing job. But when you are on a set, you are shooting a schedule. That was my last moment. And I did one of those terrible actor things where I refused to do what I was told. I’m so glad that I did. And I think they are too. Because people tell me when I looked at Martha and I looked at Clark, they could see the power of love and the passing of the baton.

“THEY WANTED TO KEEP GOING …  INDEFINITELY.”

As the hit show eyes a season eight for 2009, a number of key players exit the show.

GOUGH We were just coming off the writers’ strike. We had done seven seasons of the show. They wanted to keep going sort of indefinitely. We knew it was going to go further than season eight. We had told the stories that we wanted to tell. The show would keep going. We had trained all the people who were there that went on to run it. “OK, we think the best thing for us and for the show is for us to step aside and let someone else do it.” We are always interested in doing other shows or other movies and things like that.

KREUK I was ready to move on. It started being in my life at 18 years old and it was until my mid-20s. I think I was 25, 26 when the show ended. It had been my entire young adult life. I didn’t know what the stories for Lana would be in the future. I didn’t want to live in a love triangle forever. I hate playing love triangles, and I just wanted to explore other aspects of my life.

ROSENBAUM When I left the show, people at first were like, “Oh, he just left the show.” I didn’t leave the show. I had a six-year contract and I ended up doing seven years. And so I felt like I had done enough and the character had done enough.

WELLING I have intimate knowledge to why he chose not to come back. I had to navigate as executive producer and director and lead actor on the show. How we keep Lex alive and his spirit alive.

GOUGH It was in the hands of people who were very competent caretakers who could see it past our tenure.

ROSENBAUM My makeup artist and I have spent more time together than I have with my family. The people on that set knew me better than I knew me. This was a tight family. When it ended, it was very emotional. When I was in my last scene, I didn’t think I was going to get emotional. I walked in the makeup trailer and I gave my makeup artist, Natalie [Cosco], a hug. I just balled.  She cried. It was the end of an era. It was a big part of your life.  

“HE SCREWS UP HIS FIRST LINE.”

After ten seasons, the Smallville finale is set for May 2011 and welcomes back old friends.

WELLING: I was so excited for Rosenbaum to come back. The first scene, there was big destruction of Luthor mansion. We were never going to rebuild it again, practically, because the show was ending. You could feel this was ending. Clark walks in, and there’s this big crane shot. It comes down and Lex reveals himself. Clark turns and the crane shot comes all the way across the room right up into his face, and he screws up his first line .

ROSENBAUM It got to my closeup and I go, “Line!?”

WELLING What makes it even better is Rosenbaum never not knew his lines. He would want to run lines with me three days before a scene and I’m like, “Dude, I’m trying to get through the day right now.” So he never messed up. It was such a big moment.

SCHNEIDER Tom was so great. We never really talked about acting. I would tell him, “Listen and react,” which sounds very simple if you are not an actor. But actors will work in a hotel room before they go to work that day and they’ll get all their facial expressions just right. I call it getting acting on your shirt. Occasionally I would brush the front of Tom’s plaid shirt. The first time I did it, he said, “What is that?” I said, “You got acting all over your shirt. Let’s do that again.” In season ten when I came back, I was distracted and he reached down and wiped the acting off my shirt. It was great.

“WE ARE CLOSER THAN WE WERE.”

While making the show, Welling was weighed down with the demands of leading a series and serving as executive producer. But in the years since it went off the air, he and the cast have become closer than ever, particularly while traveling the convention circuit. Members of the team will reunite in December at Los Angeles Comic Con

WELLING The last thing I wanted to do after I wrapped [an episode] was see anybody. Everybody is like, “You might be on a successful show, you must be going nuts on the weekends.” I am asleep as fast as possible with my dogs, with my phone off and not seeing anyone. … You start the season and you climb into the submarine and you go underwater. A mile underneath the water, cut off from the rest of the world for ten months and then you surface again.

ROSENBAUM It’s been ten years since the show has been over and we are still in touch. We see each other. We are closer than we were. Tom and I have become really close friends since Smallville ended. He worked so much that we didn’t really have a chance to hang out. Now we talk all the time. There was no show like it. I always like to say that in a non-sort of egotistical way, that Smallville started it all, for all these Superhero shows. I like to think that Smallville deserves that credit.

WELLING I agree with you. You had a perfect storm of visual effects reaching a budget level that television then could meet.

GOUGH It’s rare that you can create something that still resonates with people 20 years later. We are incredibly grateful to all of the people. Television is a team sport. From everyone at Warner Bros. and the WB and the cast and the amazing crew we had in Vancouver.

MILLAR The world has completely shifted in terms of the impact Marvel has had on pop culture. We knew Kevin Feige when he was working out of an old kite factory on Santa Monica Blvd. to see where he has gone and has grown that empire into something that is so significant and so impactful, not just to the business but to people, so I like to think to have a small part in helping people understand superheroes in a different way. That is something that is important and I can feel proud about.

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