C2E2: Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh Talk “Supergirl’s” Successes

by  in TV News Comment
C2E2: Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh Talk “Supergirl’s” Successes

Though fans now have their pick of superhero shows, CBS’ “Supergirl” has built a strong fanbase with its energy, an impressive cast led by Melissa Benoist, and the power of a female superhero in a genre still dominated by men. Benoist and Chyler Leigh, who plays Supergirl Kara Danvers’ adoptive sister Alex on the series, took to the stage at C2E2 for a spotlight panel along with moderator Clare Kramer.

Kramer began by pointing out that this panel will be Benoist and Leigh’s first at a comic con.

Benoist said the balance between a normal life and her superhero life has been “a struggle,” “and it has been fun to play that — I think that’s her number one struggle.”

“I think that’s what makes her relatable,” Benoist said.

On the casting process, Leigh said, “I kind of swooped in at the last second — and I won.” Benoist added that many actresses had auditioned for Alex, but none was a good fit. “She was perfect,” Benoist said of Leigh.

Benoist’s path to the starring role a bit harder, though, she said. “After about the first six callbacks, I thought, maybe I should read the comics.” She started with the New 52 series and worked her way backwards.

Since Leigh’s character isn’t in the comics, she has her own ideas. “I know there’s already a Batgirl, but. With the technology that the DEO has, I think I should have some, as well,” she said. “Like maybe flying?” Leigh added that it could be “Batgirl-ish.”

“One thing I really like about Alex is she isn’t defined by who she’s around,” Leigh said. “I’m kind of glad the whole thing was just cat and mouse with Maxwell Lord.”

“The fact that Alex can do it all herself … I mean, this is enough relationship for her, good grief,” Leigh said of being Kara’s sibling.

“It’s always felt like a privilege” to play a prominent female superhero, Benoist said, and cited solving problems as a team “part of the feminist message of the show.”

Benoist spoke about how, unlike her cousin Kal, “she grew up on Krypton, she had a childhood there, she knows what she’s missing” and chose to be “grateful and graceful” as a hero on Earth.

Leigh said the sisterhood feels “natural.” “When I cry on set, it’s because she really did make me cry.”

“I said really mean things to you,” Benoist said. “When one of us is crying, even if the camera isn’t on us the other one starts to cry, too.”

“But we don’t just cry!” Leigh joked.

On the subject of more crossovers beyond the Flash guest spot, Benoist said, “I would love to see Kara in the Fla-arrow world.” After a questioning glance from Leigh, she said, “Yeah, that’s what Grant [Gustin] calls it, I hadn’t heard it before either.” (Pronounced “Flare-o!”)

In the Q&A portion, a fan asked about the possibility of Kara becoming a Red Lantern, as she did in the comics. “I don’t know, I’ll have to ask Andrew Kreisberg,” Benoist said.

“I don’t know if I can handle any more mean from this one,” Leigh said.

Leigh said her kids “look up to both Kara/Supergirl and Alex Danvers,” including their presentation as flawed characters. She spoke about sending the message that you don’t need a cape to be a superhero.

“I would add to never ever underestimate yourself, you are capable of more than you ever thought possible,” Benoist said. “You are so much stronger than you know.”

“One of my favorite scenes with Chyler was in ‘For the Girl Who Has Everything,’ when she’s on Krypton and breaking Kara out of the spell,” Benoist said, citing the power of her character’s emotion and action.

Asked about a musical episode, Leigh said, “Isn’t that supposed to happen down the road?”

“Isn’t there a villain… Music Meister?” Benoist offered. The fan mentioned the character was voiced by Neil Patrick Harris on “Brave and the Bold.” “That would be great,” Benoist said.

On the subject of who is faster between the Flash and Supergirl, Leigh immediately answered “Supergirl.” Benoist said, “Well, I broke the sound barrier recently… but I feel like he’s probably faster than that.”

Benoist said that, looking around comic cons, she’s really wanted a Keyblade from “Kingdom Hearts,” but would need a disguise to go shopping, as actors like Brian Cranston and many more have done through the years.

Returning to the subject of music, in response to a fan question Benoist said it is not her voice on background sounds like the cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

“She does have a lot of responsibilities on the show,” Leigh said.

Asked about guest characters, Benoist suggested Power Girl would be fun.

On the subject of the Martian Manhunter’s name, Leigh said, “They make it a point to make us say ‘Zhonn Zhones — we have to go into ADR recording and they say, ‘you didn’t quite sound Zhonn enough.”

Asked about directing episodes, Leigh mentioned she’d heard Dean Cain directed episodes of “Lois & Clark,” and her husband had encouraged her to do the same. “I feel utterly unequipped for that.”

Benoist spoke about kids seeing her in the suit, and one girl who ran up to her and gave her a big hug “and wouldn’t let go.” “She just really wanted to be around [the ‘S’],” she said. “We ended up just hanging out for like half an hour, being girlfriends.”

A young fan asked the actresses if they were #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan. “I’m kind of obligated to say Captain America, just because I work with Chris Evans,” Leigh said, but the “there’s something about the suit” with Iron Man that she identifies with, and ultimately came down on Stark’s side.

Benoist picked Cap, though, because “I feel like Kara would be friends with Captain America.”

Asked what their story would be if they wrote an episode, Leigh said, “Alex goes Batgirl! Or Kara and Alex’s European adventure!” Benoist said that she had ideas of things she’d like Kara to do, but no full stories as yet.

A fan asked about the possibility of a lesbian character (after the previous had suggested that character should be Alex). “Greg Berlanti has said he wouldn’t be opposed to” gay and lesbian characters, Benoist said, adding that the writer had said the show is best when it reflects the culture.

“Is there pink kryptonite?” Leigh asked. “I think everybody on the show should be exposed to pink kryptonite and see what happens.”

“It would turn into the musical episode,” Kramer quipped.

Asked about a possible singing career given her role on “Glee,” Benoist said it’s not likely. “That was a thing on ‘Glee,’ where everybody was going off and cutting albums,” she said. “And people would ask, when is yours coming out? And I’m like, ne-ver!”

What can they tease for season 2? “That we have one, maybe?” Leigh said. Though CBS executives have indicated the show will be renewed, as yet there has been no confirmation.

“There are a lot of cliffhangers at the end of season one,” Benoist said.

A fan suggested Benoist and Leigh should go on “Lip Sync Battle,” to loud applause.