Eric Martsolf on Becoming "Smallville's" Booster Gold

DC Comics superhero Booster Gold may be infamously known in comic book circles as "The greatest hero you've never heard of," but after this Friday's episode of The CW network's "Smallville," the glory hog time traveler will have a whole new audience thanks to actor Eric Martsolf -- known for his work on NBC's soap "Days of Our Lives" -- and superstar writer Geoff Johns. That's because tonight, the character and his frequent four-color partner Blue Beetle both bow in the "Booster" episode which Johns wrote not only to introduce two of his favorite DC icons into the live action milieu of "Smallville" but also to push the series story further towards its conclusion over the decade-long drama's final four installments.

Even though his character has displayed Gold's well-known show-boating capabilities in previews for the episode, Martsolf told CBR News how he took the responsibility of bringing the 25th Century superhero to life seriously. "Booster Gold is not as well known as some of the others, but the more research I did on the character, the more I realized that this guy has a heck of a history behind him," the actor explained. "It was easy for me to feel that he was just a flash-in-the-pan or a conceited ego maniac and a clown, essentially, in a suit... but that's not the case. The cool thing about the episode is that it really investigates the humanity of this guy Booster Gold. He's really more of a misunderstood man with some real hero potential to him rather than some superficial guy.

"Tom [Welling], who directed the episode, and I had plenty of discussions about Booster -- about his integrity and his misunderstood motivations. And Tom and I saw eye-to-eye on the character from day one. We really wanted him to be a likable guy. We really believed this was a misunderstood man. So he doesn't have so much of a dual identity as he is a product of some awful circumstances that came as a result of his childhood. He had a degenerate gambling father, and he had to pay for his mother's medication through gambling, which led to him being thrown in jail. The guy's had a rough past. It's hard to judge somebody based upon those circumstances, and we're all fallible human beings. This is a guy who's made mistakes, and if we can't relate to that, I don't know what we can relate to."

Of course, Welling has a number of duties on "Smallville" these days outside of starring as the soon to be Super Clark Kent, but Martsolf said that even the triple bill of actor/executive producer/director didn't distract the star from welcoming the latest hero to the show's fold. "I was hanging 20 feet in the air by a harness with Blue Beetle's hand around my neck... and I was up there for hours," the actor laughed. "This was integral to the scene, so it had to be done. And we took a ten or 15-minute break, but I had to stay up in the harness because it took about a half an hour to get me down. The first guy to come up to me and offer me pizza was Tom. It wasn't the stage manager or the catering company. It was this guys wearing three or four hats at the time who was wondering whether I wanted pepperoni or cheese.

"That shows you how Tom is the guy who cares. He's able to take on these multiple responsibilities and multitask. I can't sing his praises enough. He was attentive and made time to have discussions with me about Booster Gold. I give a lot of credit to the 'Smallville' corporation in the sense that they really care about the storytelling. Tom wanted to make sure that these characterizations were real and that they were well thought out and well executed. And I think the product is a darn good episode that comic book fans are going to embrace."

Aside from the high-flying battle between Gold and the Blue Beetle that has been teased in the episode's early screen caps, Martsolf has a history with stunt work on screen and off. "I was actually the Green Goblin in the original Spider-Man musical that was done at Universal Studios about ten years ago," he said. "It was there that I really got a sense of stunt work, and I believe it's important that when you can do those stunts you should do them yourself. It makes the shot so much better and so much more real. So I dig all that stuff. I was like 'Put me up there! Throw me around! Choke me for four hours if it's going to make the shot straight! Just don't kill me.'"

Balancing that work became more challenging when working with Jaren Brandt Bartlett who plays Blue Beetle's alter ego Jaime Reyes both in and out of the large, armored costume the teen hero dons in the episode. "It was tough. I'll be honest with you that the flexibility factor in my suit didn't come around until the last day of shooting. It was pure leather, and it was fitted to me like a glove. So it was actually very difficult to move in as well. There's a point where I had to do a roll off a stage, and that in itself was a lovely painful experience. But the Blue Beetle's costume did prevent him from a lot of movement, so we had to come up with ways to let him breathe and let him move so he had clear vision for all the things we wanted to do. Once again, I attribute that to Tom. He made the shots work, and I've seen footage, and I think he succeeded in bringing these things to life."

Overall, Martsolf explained that Johns' script for the episode didn't just take a "time out" from the larger arc of the series to introduce the DC heroes into "Smallville" continuity. "The episode answers the question as to why Geoff Johns incorporated Booster Gold into the last couple of episodes of 'Smallville,'" he promised. "This is basically a vehicle for Clark Kent to embrace style. It investigates Clark's transition from The Blur into Superman. And Booster Gold represents the epitome of style while Clark Kent at this time in his life is the epitome of substance. And so, I think they learn from one another that with everything in moderation you can have both. You can't have Superman without style. That's not the way kids or adults think of the iconic hero. The hero is never in black, grey and white. He's in blue, red and gold. And that's what you've got to bring to the table if you're going to wrap this story up in a believable package.

"When I first read the script, I thought 'How does Booster Gold fit into the Superman story?' But there's your answer, and it takes a mind like Geoff Johns to really bring that to fruition."

As for the future, "Smallville" may be wrapping its run in the weeks ahead, but would Martsolf be up for more Booster action? "I'm in like Flynn, man!" he laughed. "I would have a hard time saying, 'Nah, I don't want to get into that costume again.' It's been a wild ride. I came home from Vancouver and looked my wife dead in the face and said, 'That was the best shoot of my life to date,' and I mean that sincerely. I would embrace the adventures of Booster Gold in a heartbeat. We'll just have to work it out with 'Days of Our Lives,' but there's room for it."

The "Booster" episode of "Smallville" debuts on The CW tonight at 8:00 Eastern and Pacific.

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