FAN EXPO: Smallville

If there's a defining element to Toronto's Fan Expo, it's that no one nerd subculture rules the roost, so to speak. Comics readers, horror aficionados and anime enthusiasts walk the aisles of the show floor shoulder to shoulder -- although the cosplayers do seem to stand out a bit more.

One of the events that seemed to draw together a rather large and diverse sampling of all of these groups was last Saturday afternoon's "Smallville" showcase panel, featuring series stars Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor) and Laura Vandervoort (Kara Kent, aka Supergirl). The pair took the stage of Hall G to a mixture of traditional applause and non-traditional "you're hot" and "woo hoos" for both stars. After Rosenbaum took Vandervoort for a twirl on stage, the pair sat for an informal Q&A with fans which hit topics both personal and professional and often featured detours where Rosenbaum would ask for additional comments from the Canadian actress' parents who were sitting in the front row.

Some news that came out of the panel included word that while neither actor would be appearing as a series regular in the upcoming eighth season of the CW series, Vandervoort would return in at least one episode to wrap up her character's story, and that episode would film in October.

Rosenbaum proved quite a hit with fans as he was constantly joking with the audience, including referring to a questioner dressed as Namor the Sub-Mariner as "Naked Spock." When asked whether original Lex Luthor actor Gene Hackman might ever be approached to do a guest spot on "Smallville," Rosenbaum said, "Obviously, I'm a huge Gene fan, but I don't know how that conversation would go. 'Hey, Gene. It's your agent!' 'What?!?! I told you never to call me!' ' Listen, we got a job for you! "Smallville."'"

At that point, Vandervoort finished the scene by saying, "What?!?! What is 'Smallville?'" before Rosenbaum added, "I don't think Gene would do it. I heard he doesn't talk to his agents and beats people up on the highway."

When it came to stories of the "Smallville" set, both stars had tales of series lead Tom Welling playing pranks on them. When Rosenbaum stepped behind the lens to direct an episode of the show and took the gig very seriously, Welling found an opportunity to burst his friend's bubble a bit. "I started making notes in my script, and I was really taking it seriously," he said. "But I guess in between takes, Tom got a hold of my script, and it was only for a minute, so I can't believe he drew as many illustrations as he did " illustrations that I don't want to talk about. And neither did the guy next to me on flight 82 [the next day] " the 78-year-old man who sees me reading these drawings like 'Hey! Lex does this with Lionel! Hey! Lex does this with Shelby the dog!'"

When Welling himself took the director's chair for an episode, Vandervoort had a hard time on set as it was the first time her character was shot on screen. "[Michael] was supposed to shoot me in the shoulder, and I didn't know quite how to react to it and make it natural," she recalled. "[Tom] would count '1, 2, 3' and then they'd shoot it, but I anticipated it so I was tensing up. And he said, 'Don't worry, we're going to try it again.' Then I saw him whispering to some members of the crew, and he said, 'Okay, ready? 1, 2...' and then they shot me. So it was my natural reaction. I gave them the finger, and everyone was laughing."

When asked if they had any word on the direction of the series in the new season, Rosenbaum joked that the show was going in an "obviously a crappy direction" before saying, "I love those guys, and I'm sure they'll do something interesting. It's hard because it was like a family there. It was sad, but it was time to move on."

Rosenbaum entertained with some discussion of his voice acting work as The Flash on "Justice League" and "Justince League Unlimited," saying that "anonymity is what I love about it.

When asked about their future projects now that they're out of "Smallville," Vandervoort revealed that she'd just finished filming "Into the Blue 2" as well as a Toronto indie picture, and her next project will be a movie of the week filming in Montreal where she plays a rookie cop.

Rosenbaum said he was in negotiations for a new Hollywood comedy and that he was "mixing it up a little and doing roles with characters that have hair." Comedy will likely remain the focus of his acting work moving forward as he expressed interest in doing situation comedy again. "I always wanted to do a sitcom where the sitcom was built around me. 'Everybody Loves Luthor.'"

Rosenbaum is also writing several new projects, and when a fan asked about a rumored sitcom produced by him and based on the story of his life, the actor said that a pilot was shot for Fox but not picked up, although the series pitch is currently in reversion, meaning they're trying to get it made again and picked up by a new network.

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