|Cassidy Freeman stars as Tess Mercer in "Smallville"|
Whether fans realized it or not, last month wasn’t the first time Cassidy Freeman’s face had been seen at Comic-Con International in San Diego. The actor had worked on a film called “Razor Sharp,” which won best Action/Adventure Film at the Comic-Con International Film Festival in 2006. Now Freeman is ready to make her mark on “Smallville,” portraying Tess Mercer, inspired by Miss Teschmacher from the Richard Donner Superman film and Mercy Graves from the Warner Bros. animated series, who will be filling in for Lex Luthor in the wake of actor Michael Rosenbaum’s retiring from the CW series.
Joining Freeman this season is Sam Witwer (“The Mist,” “Battlestar Galactica”) who will bring Doomsday to “Smallville,” literally, with the introduction of Davis Bloome, a paramedic who is destined to one day murder Kal-El. Having steeped himself in the mythology of not just two popular genre shows, Witwer is about to become part of the Star Wars universe, portraying Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, Starkiller, in the “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” video game.
Both actors spoke with CBR News last month about their roles in the new season of “Smallville,” which begins September 18 on the CW network.
“It’s really great because as a kid I was a huge Superman fan and [I] watched all the movies with my parents,” Witwer said. “I’m a big pop culture mythology guy so stories like the Superman mythology and the Star Wars mythology, they’re significant and they’re important because I think they’re great tools for teaching basic moralities, especially to kids. So that’s why I am so into them, that’s why I feel very lucky to be a part of it.”
Witwer doesn’t mind the idea of coming to blows with Clark Kent. “Well he’s been asking for it man,” Witwer joked. “You know, who doesn’t want to take a swing at that guy?” The actor’s main concern isn’t the Man of Steel’s left hook, but rather the Superman fans. “I just hope the fans like what we do with it because it’s our own interpretation. It’s with the blessing of DC Comics and we are not invalidating any back story Doomsday’s had previously but we are interpreting and adding to that back story and hopefully the fans dig on it.”
|Sam Witwer stars as Doomsday in in "Smallville"|
While Witwer may be worried about the reaction fans will have to his character, he is going to keep away from the message boards. “I try to stay away from it myself,” he explained. “I was told that early on. I think [‘Battlestar Galactica’ co-star] Katee Sackhoff suggested that [to me] because she went though hell with that stuff [about playing Starbuck]. I try to stay away from it and just kind of do what I think I should do and hope they like it and eventually it will trickle back whether people like it or not. I’d rather have that happen in sort of a more natural process then going to seek [it] out.”
Cassidy Freeman finds the fan experience completely different as she does enjoy reading the feedback, though she has learned not to let it affect her. “I don’t stay up late at night Googling myself too often,” Freeman joked. “I will say that I do like to hear [fans’ reactions] because I don’t take things very personally and I know that a lot of the time I am just more impressed and excited that people care so much, even if it’s negative.”
Doomsday isn’t the only one who is going to be making Clark Kent’s life interesting in Season Eight, as Tess Mercer’s search for the missing Lex Luthor keeps bringing her back to his childhood friend. “I really want to know who [Clark] is and what’s going on with him,” Freeman said. “I am very inquisitive about Clark because he was close to Lex and Lex is missing. That’s pretty much the only thing I want to find out right now is where he is and I think that Clark can help me do that. So I’m trying to find out ways that I can convince Clark to help me out.”
Now that Michael Rosenbaum has departed from the cast, it doesn’t seem likely that Tess will find the head of Lexcorp anytime soon, but Freeman does hope that one day he might return. “Who wouldn’t love to work with Michael Rosenbaum?” she said. “The stories [about him] are incredible, everybody loves him and watching him, he’s so talented. I’d absolutely love to work with Michael Rosenbaum.”
Outside of Luthor, Mercer will have ties to another cast member, that of Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow. “What I can tell you is that we know each other,” she said, “and I’m still finding out how we know each other but we do.” The pasts of both actors had crossed already as well, as they worked together in a pilot that didn’t get picked up for a series. “The pilot I shot with Justin was so much fun,” Freeman said. “We got to play paramedics, so there was a lot of needles involved and there was a lot of tubing. It was really cool then to have the opportunity to work with him again because it’s a familiar face coming into a group of people you don’t know; it’s nice to have one person that you do know.”
Cassidy Freeman wasn’t the only person to see some old faces on the set, as Sam Witwer was also familiar with some of the crew. “What’s cool is that there are members of the crew that were on ‘Battlestar [Galactica],” Witwer said. “So getting there were some friendly faces. That was really awesome.”
Clark’s and Davis’s relationship might seem cut and dry. One is a hero and the other a villain. But Witwer explained their interactions might not be what fans expect. Unfortunately, trying to describe it while not spoiling anything for the fans left matters very difficult for the actor. “I do know where the relationship is going,” he said, “and I can’t say anything about that but it’s a very cool thing where that relationship is going. It’s a new type of thing for the show. I’ll say this, I don’t think Clark has had the opportunity to have a friend like Davis and likewise. I can’t get any more vague then that can I? They’re going to have a very unique buddy-buddy friendship and that sounds weird, too, doesn’t it? I just can’t talk about it, I really can’t. It’s an awesome idea though; it’s a really awesome idea.”
As for how Davis Bloom becomes the super-villain known as Doomsday, Witwer was able to give us a peak at the man before he became the monster. “He’s this sort of perpetual outsider,” the actor said. “He grew up in the foster system, he was bounced from home to home and had a very tough childhood. He is brought into the story as he forms this fast friendship with Chloe [and] eventually he starts sort of blacking out, missing time and he becomes curious as to why that is happening. What he learns is really horrible stuff. He finds out that he is innately the opposite of what he wanted to be. Hopefully the telling of that story will be very sad and psychologically messed up and it will probably very easily be the darkest stuff ‘Smallville’ has ever done.”
The journey of Davis Bloome doesn’t stop there. Comic book fans will get to see Bloom assume the mantle of Doomsday. “Then eventually he is Doomsday and he will eventually resemble the character DC Comics fans are expecting,” Witwer confirmed.
Portraying such a dark character can be very exhausting for an actor. “Playing those roles, it’s really tiring but it’s a great challenge,” Witer said. “I like doing things that intimidate me. You know when I read the script for ‘The Mist” I was like, ‘I don’t know how I am going to do that. I don’t know how that’s going to work out.’ Same thing with ‘Dexter.’ I’ve had the opportunity to play a lot of things where I just had no idea how it was going to go and I was intimidated and didn’t think it was going to work out. Yeah it’s really tough. It’s easier to play the nicer guy and that’s what we’re doing right now so I’m happy but eventually you do want to challenge yourself, you do want to stretch. So I’m looking forward to exhausting myself.”
CBR News’ coverage of “Smallville” Season Eight continues laster this week with interviews with the new producers Kelly Souders, Brian Peterson, Todd Slavkin, and Darren Swimmer.