"The relationship is the soap opera stuff. You get through it so that you can have some explosions and people falling off buildings and stuff."
'Smallville': Annette O'Toole talks return alongside Michael McKean
By Carina MacKenzie
May 7, 2010 4:38 AM ET
In the May 7 "Smallville" episode, "Hostage," Annette O'Toole returns as Martha Kent for the first time in nearly two years. This time, she's bringing someone home to meet the family! O'Toole's real-life husband Michael McKean reprises his role as Perry White, who is now dating Martha.
O'Toole always intended to return to her role, but until now, scheduling conflicts have kept the character from coming back. "I was doing a lot of theater," she tells Zap2it in an interview with McKean. "But eventually they called me with all these great ideas for the character, and I said yes. I'm so glad that I did."
This time around, O'Toole's experience on "Smallville's" Vancouver set was a different from what she was used to during her six years as a series regular. "After all of my time on the show, they worked me more in this one week than I've worked the entire time I've been on the show, which is what I was really hoping for," O'Toole says. "I had whole days where I was in every scene, and of course, I got to have my Mister up there with me, which was a big plus."
McKean and O'Toole are used to working together, and they love it. "We've been working together since the get-go," McKean says. "We've known each other very peripherally for many years, because we have the same circle of friends. In 1997, we were both single and did a TV movie together. We got to know each other a little better and thought, 'Well, this is more like it!'"
Their on-screen relationship may not be quite as successful. "Perry's more ready for a commitment than Martha is," McKean tells us. "I think Martha's still working on her feelings about the long-gone Jonathan, and she kind of lives in a more haunted world than Perry does. She knows a lot more about the world than he does."
Though Clark (Tom Welling) wants his mother to be happy, he's got more to worry about than her new boyfriend. "The relationship is the soap opera stuff," McKean says. "You get through it so that you can have some explosions and people falling off buildings and stuff."
Any mother wants to protect her son, even when her son is Superman. But just how far has Martha gone to protect Clark? The promotional video released by The CW seems to suggest that Martha Kent is the mysterious Red Queen who "blocked" Clark from Checkmate. "You can't comprehend what it means to truly protect someone you love," Kent scolds, brandishing a gun.
O'Toole says that our assumptions may be wrong, however. "Don't be so sure! We don't know if that's the case or not. [The reps] did admonish us not to reveal too much, so I can't tell you the real truth, but suffice to say it's a great episode. A lot gets addressed."
If Martha does turn out to be the Red Queen, Clark isn't the only one who will be shocked. Perry has been investigating the character as he tries to find his way back up the journalism ranks. Of course, in "Superman" lore, Perry White becomes the editor of The Daily Planet. McKean knows his character's history well, and though he says nothing is "written in stone," he is aware of his character's eventual place at the top.
"We're gonna kind of tip-toe toward it a little bit. We do see Perry at the office of the Daily Planet, which I found kind of thrilling," McKean says. "I think any good journalist has got a good B.S. detector. That's kind of the main talent of Perry. God forbid he becomes editor of the Daily Planet one day, I don't think he's going to suffer fools gladly, because he was once one himself."
Though he appreciates Perry's comic book origins, McKean has enjoyed bringing the character to life.
"When you're writing a comic book, you've got this two-dimensional character. Perry White is this bad-tempered guy with the white hair who smokes a cigar and says 'Don't call me Chief!' a lot. But he was introduced five years ago in the show as a three-dimensional, flawed human being, a guy whose best friend was a bottle, which is not an unusual affliction in the journalistic trade."
Where has Perry been since we saw him last? "He's been sober ever since. Some of the miracles he witnessed when he was a drunk, we know they really happened, but to him they're just something to be avoided as he gets back down to the brass tacks of what's going on."