This week, Alan Ritchson is set to reprise his role as DC Comics’ superhero Aquaman on The CW’s hit TV series, “Smallville,” and now that he’s tested the water, he’s bringing Mera along too.
First introduced to the show’s mythos in the fifth season episode “Aqua,” the role of Arthur Curry expands in this Friday’s episode “Patriot” as the underwater hero and his wife team-up with Clark (Tom Welling) to free Oliver (Justin Hartley) from Col. Slade (Michael Hogan) who trapped the Green Arrow after he registered for the Vigilante Registration Act.
That’s right, his wife. But Ritchson told CBR News that while Arthur’s marriage to Mera – played onscreen by Elena Satine – will be explained, the episode very much centers on a Justice League-sized adventure.
Ritchson, who also stars as Thad Castle on Spike TV’s “Blue Mountain State,” also spoke candidly about the possibility of an Aquaman movie and why he thinks the Sea King doesn’t necessarily translate well to television.
CBR News: Were you aware of Aquaman growing up as a kid? Did you have the Aquaman Underoos?
Alan Ritchson: No, I wasn’t really a big comic book guy as a kid. My experience with comics was through my next door neighbor, who set the national weightlifting record in like eighth grade. He would come over to my house and he was always the Hulk and I had to pick somebody for him to beat up. I don’t think I ever really chose Aquaman. That was the extent of my experience with superheroes.
Have you become acclimated with the character since you landed the role, because certainly in comics, Aquaman is front and center in the DCU these days as a featured player in “Brightest Day.”
Yes, absolutely. I’m very much into doing research for roles and I feel like I’ve read everything written on Aquaman since coming onto “Smallville.” I notice the popularity growing, as well. And there are also talks of an Aquaman movie maybe happening soon. You hear rumors in Hollywood, so it’s good to stay informed. It’s pretty cool when you have even a small fingerprint on a character’s history.
Has your portrayal been well received when you meet fans at conventions and even on the street?
Yes, but believe me, I’ve definitely worn my share of the scorn for Aquaman, too. There’s a lot to love about the character but I think it’s such a hard thing to realize on screen, being that it’s really a world that takes place underwater. He’s basically the Superman of the Seas. It’s a cool character and there’s a great story to tell, but it’s difficult to tell in that kind of media. He really hasn’t been afforded the opportunities like the Batmans and the Supermans of the world. It’s easier to tell those stories, so people can fantasize about that stuff easier, I think, and really see that character come to life and those potentials be realized. It’s harder to tell the story with Aquaman, because you’re kind of limited in terms of what you can do. I think that leads a lot of people to think, “Ah, this character sucks.”
But I think there’s a lot of good there and I think it’s a pretty cool character but I definitely get it too. If you didn’t know anything else, you’d be like, “You talk to fish? That’s it. What else can you do?”
You obviously can’t talk to fish, but can you swim?
I lived near the beach in Florida and spent a lot of time in the water. There was a public pool near my house that we used to go to all the time and learned how to swim. I mean, I wasn’t competitive or anything, but I was proficient enough, so this was an easy dive to make.
In this week’s episode, we’re introduced to Mera, Aquaman’s wife. Will the story of how these two got together be told, because when we last saw Arthur, I don’t believe he was married.
The thing that I like about this episode is that it stays very present. It moves forward and I think it moves the series forward. We don’t spend a lot of time telling the story about where we come from, but we definitely address it. Right from the get-go, you’re in on us and I think you realize who she is to me. And that’s cool. I just think that it’s appropriate that the show continues to move forward and stays present. The fact that stuff has been happening but on the show it’s just like, OK, here we are now. What are we going to do with this? I like that.
If the introduction of Mera wasn’t enough for “Smallville” fans, Tom Welling directed this week’s episode, too. How is Clark when he is behind the camera?
Being behind the camera is in his nature. He’s a very giving person. He’s got a lot of knowledge to share and he really knows how to share it. He’s just a super smart guy and he’s very gentle with actors. He comes from my side of things, so he understands how to talk to actors. A lot of directors don’t. Some directors are so technically oriented the acting is an afterthought, and knowing how to talk to an actor is definitely an afterthought. I spend a lot time just interpreting what they actually want. “What are they getting at here, because they aren’t saying it very well?” That’s not the case, at all, with Tom. Like I said, he’s just very giving. There’s always a good back and forth and he’s very receptive to hearing ideas. He wants all the ideas on the table so he can put forward the best product. It was great fun and I feel fortunate to have worked with him.
You mention the potential for an Aquaman movie and Justin [Hartley] actually shot a pilot for an Aquaman spinoff series in 2006. If there ever was a spinoff show, or if Warner Bros. turned to you to reprise the role for the big screen, would you be happy to play Aquaman again?
Oh yeah, I would like that for sure. But I don’t think a TV show is a reality, to be honest. Not that I wouldn’t like to see that story told. Like I said earlier, Aquaman’s basically the Superman of the Seas and there’s a really cool story behind that. I think it would be fun to tell it, but it’s just so hard to tell a story involving water. And it’s expensive. In today’s day and age, people aren’t looking to spend a lot of money on a TV show. Maybe someday they’ll find a way, technically, to do it in a fiscally sound manner.
But a movie, on the other hand, I think is very much a reality. In fact, I think there’s one in the works. Some people in LA are starting to get the ball rolling on that. I don’t know what my involvement would ever be in that, but, yeah, I think it would be cool to see that happen. But it’s just so expensive to do. It’s hard to say if it’s really going to happen.
Will we see more of Aquaman and Mera in this final season of “Smallville?”
I hope so. I had a great time working with Elena, I had a great time on the show in general and I like the direction that it’s going. It’s moving forward and growing up and you’re seeing all these great storylines from the past, starting to tie up all these loose ends. It’s fun to watch and it’s fun to be part of.
I would personally like to see the Justice League assemble, so I’d like to be a part of that too. But officially, I haven’t received anything on paper yet, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
“Smallville” airs Friday nights on The CW at 8/7c with “Patriot” airing this week