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Smallville: Tom Welling talks to the L.A. Times - I worship at the television altar
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Smallville: Tom Welling talks to the L.A. Times
Jevon Phillips from the L.A. Times writes about ten years of Smallville, and talks to star and executive producer Tom Welling.

Tom Welling knows what you’re thinking: ‘Why doesn’t he just put on the suit?’
Sept. 23, 2010 | 6:01 p.m.

Clark Kent is growing into the super man we all knew he could be as “Smallville” begins it’s 10th and final season on Friday. Jevon Phillips writes about the show and the actor who has portrayed Clark Kent longer than anyone else, Tom Welling.

Tom Welling’s first memory on the set of “Smallville” nine years ago was a chance meeting with a young production assistant named Chris Petry. The actor waved at Petry, who returned the greeting. Almost a decade later, Petry is all grown up and now serves as one of the show’s producers and occasionally directs. As for Welling, well, he is still almost Superman.

“The two of us were just sitting around the other day and going ‘Eh, not too bad. Not too bad for nine years. [We've] done all right,” said Welling, who is also an executive producer on the show and on the new CW program “Hellcats.”

The original vision for “Smallville,” which begins its 10th and final season Friday, was not to dazzle viewers so much with a red-and-blue-suited alien leaping tall buildings as it was to explore the early life of Clark Kent, explained the 33-year-old actor. That character study has been as successful as anyone on the show could have imagined a decade ago and now a generation of kids and young adults know Welling as the defining image of a capeless Superman.

The show’s creators, Al Gough and Miles Millar, embraced the opportunity to write a rich, new narrative for the iconic character’s journey to manhood.

“I know that sometimes we’ve done some things fans didn’t like — though other fans really appreciate — but we’ve just going our own path knowing that eventually he would become Superman,” said Welling, whose character still hasn’t leapt a building in a single bound.

But come on — 10 years of teasing fans with Clark’s maiden flight?

“Some people might be a little upset that it’s taken this long, but I think that we have to embrace the fact that if we’d done it in the first season, the show would be over,” said Welling. “The whole point was to try to elongate this journey or this transition that Clark has to becoming Superman.”

The show has endured challenges in its 10 seasons including the demise of its original network, the WB. The program has seen its viewership drop — 8.4 million for the show’s premiere in 2001 to 2.3 million for last year’s opener — though that’s not unusual for an aging show. And it’s faced the inevitable questions, especially from hardcore comic book readers about their narrative choices.

“It’s got its own continuity — just like Richard Donner’s ‘Superman,’” said Geoff Johns, chief creative officer for DC Entertainment, a comic book writer and an occasional writer for “Smallville.” “It’s built its own world, and it’s certainly a huge legacy. It’s crazy … I mean Tom Welling has spent more hours as Clark Kent that anyone in history.”

Many hail Christopher Reeve (over, say, George Reeves or Dean Cain) as the quintessential Man of Steel, and Brandon Routh’s rendition in 2006′s “Superman Returns” was generally well received, but Welling’s “Smallville” longevity gives him a special place in superhero lore.

“When he [Welling] finally becomes Superman, he will be, to me, stepping into the role and becoming Christopher Reeve,” said executive producer Brian Peterson. “We really want it to end where a lot of people in the world … where their knowledge of Superman picks up. Our goal was not to create mythology but to fill in a gap of mythology.”

But will fans be satisfied now that they’ve waited?

“I think the dilemma and the challenge this year is waiting until the end of the show,” said Welling. “At this point you’re like, ‘Why doesn’t he just put on the suit?’ I mean, come on — he’s doing the same stuff now, so why not? That’s the challenge — to make that last until the end.” And speaking of the end, that issue presents a special challenge.

“We all know that Clark doesn’t die,” said Welling. “I just want the audience to get the feeling that I got watching [the "24" finale] … a feeling of hope, and faith that he’s going to continue, and that he’s out there somewhere.”

– Jevon Phillips


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Comments
jeannev From: jeannev Date: September 24th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay! for a Tom interview.

I think he showed a really clear understanding of the strengths, and the weaknesses, of the show. He seems to realize that things were stretched out, but that this was a necessity of the concept of the show. I think that sort of awareness is going to serve him really well as a producer.
miss_tress From: miss_tress Date: September 24th, 2010 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)
*hugs Tom for doing an interview*

So is Jack Bauer Superman or is Superman Jack Bauer?
(Deleted comment)
jeannev From: jeannev Date: September 24th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)
You bring up a great point How can Peterson say, with presumably a straight face, that they weren't out to create mythology?
audrey229 From: audrey229 Date: September 24th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
And the crazy part is the films are so far removed from the comics. The films are their own mythology and they don't match up with the comics and have not for close to 30 years. "Lois and Clark" from the 90's is closer to the comics than the films are. In many ways, Smallville is closer to the modern comics than the films will ever be. I love the Superman films. They are a beautiful piece of nostalgia and I will always appreciate them for what they are. But there are so many more shades to Superman (and his entire cast) than those films. The modern day Clark Kent (and Lois Lane) are much more similar to Tom and Erica than they are to those movies. It's very odd.
jwm_rocks From: jwm_rocks Date: September 24th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Great to see TW talking a bit to the press!

And even better it was spoiler free so I can read it.

Thanks for posting!
carolandtom From: carolandtom Date: September 24th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad Tom did an interview about SV, short as it is. Thanks for posting it here!
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: September 24th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tom Welling gave an interview?! Did the world end and I missed it? (Which, ya know, has it's good points. And a few bad ones . . .)
quickbeam.dreamwidth.org From: quickbeam.dreamwidth.org Date: September 24th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
TW is articulate as always (I can appreciate his awareness about the infuriating stalling nature of the show), but I'm terribly amused at how Johns and Peterson contradicted each other about the whole continuity issue. Heh.
bananabehr From: bananabehr Date: September 24th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh Tommy, way to be all articulate and shit! :D
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