Days' Eric Martsolf Reveals How Smallville's Tom Welling Helped Bring Booster Gold to Life
Martsolf, who hits Metropolis as over-the-top superhero Booster Gold this Friday at 8/7c, spoke with TVLine about what to expect from the future Justice Leaguer and why he’s not the least bit worried about the NBC soap he calls home.
TVLINE | You are in a very fun episode of Smallville. I’ve got to say that Booster Gold is pure cheesy goodness.
Oh, he’s cheesy — like a big block of Velveeta wrapped in gold.
TVLINE | So true, but there’s definitely more to Booster than meets the eye. Was he presented to you that way? Or did you add any personal touches to give him that outlandish/noble mix?
When I first got this role, I definitely did my research on Booster Gold. On the outside, yes, he seems like a big bowl of cheese and a ball of hot air, but is there even any ounce of integrity in the guy? Is he really just a guy who stole a suit and is a gigantic glory hound? And through the process of the episode, we see that he is so much more than that. Tom Welling, who directed the episode, spoke with me at depth about who he thought Booster was, and thankfully we were on the exact same page. Booster is all of those things, but he’s also a good, misguided man. He had a bum deal growing up, it’s a heart-wrenching backstory that he dealt with. I’m really glad [writer] Geoff Johns decided to throw Booster into the final episodes of Smallville, because he really does service the story.
TVLINE | It’s interesting you bring that up, because I know that some fans are wondering why one of Smallville‘s final episodes is devoted to an outside character. But having seen the episode, it’s clear that Booster really informs Clark’s journey. Were you nervous taking part in the show at such a pivotal time?
Oh my gosh, absolutely. I didn’t get it at first either. I was really bewildered as to why the Booster Gold character had anything to do with the final episodes of Smallville — I mean, you’re wrapping up this series, shouldn’t it be all about Clark Kent? But essentially Booster serves as a vehicle for Clark to accept himself as “Superman,” as someone who doesn’t have to be standing in the shadows all the time and referring to himself as The Blur. When we think of Superman, we think of someone who, like Booster Gold, is out in the open, flying around with a giant cape. Booster serves as a way for Clark to embrace the spectacle that Superman can be.
TVLINE | You sound well-versed in Smallville knowledge. Were you a fan of the series prior to this guest spot?
I showed interest in the show from the very beginning, and my wife is a giant fan. Coincidentally, when one of my dearest friends, Justin Hartley (with whom Martsolf worked on NBC’s Passions), gained the role of Green Arrow, he would constantly tell me stories about what was going on. As a kid, I ran around in Superman Underoos, for gosh sake, so I’ve always been fascinated with these characters. To be a part of this legacy in some small way is a wonderful opportunity.
TVLINE | Talk a little more about Tom Welling as a director. People have always spoken very highly of his behind-the-camera skills.
I had an equally great experience with him, if not surpassing that. From Day 1, we saw eye-to-eye as to who we wanted this Booster Gold character to be. Tom never thought of him as a bad guy or an egomaniac without a purpose. He wanted to make the audience embrace this character, and this episode really does Booster some serious justice, and gives him credibility as a true member of the Justice League, of which he becomes. I also love telling this story about Tom: During filming, when the Blue Beetle has Booster [suspended] in the air, we broke for catering and Tom was the first guy who came up to me to ask what kind of pizza I wanted. That showed a lot about him and his integrity. Whatever he directs, I’d be happy to be a part of.
TVLINE | Speaking of that Blue Beetle battle scene, how was it working with all CGI and special effects? I can’t imagine you’ve had much experience with that in daytime TV!
Daytime’s budgets have been slashed horrifically, and our CGI has been reduced to taking ketchup packets from the commissary and putting them in your mouth for blood. [Laughs] Just the other day I was in a fight scene [on Days] and we were told to conserve the blood palettes. So once I was on the Smallville set and saw this giant Blue Beetle and the animation going into it, it was an absolute treat. But they don’t overuse the CGI, either, which I think can be a problem in TV and movies today.
TVLINE | It certainly looked real!
Yeah, it felt good being choked for a few hours. [Laughs] Trust me, I still have the marks around my throat. And harnesses aren’t really made for men, but… no pain, no gain. When you have the suit on and you’re looking Blue Beetle in the face, you’re definitely not thinking about how uncomfortable you are. I had a two-week adrenaline rush filming this episode.
TVLINE | Since you brought up the current state of soap operas, can you talk a little about your thoughts on last week’s All My Children/One Life to Live cancellations? How are you feeling about Days‘ odds of living on right about now?
Daytime has been my bread-and-butter for over nine years now, so it’s a big part of my life.I have the utmost faith in the choices I made and the work that I’m doing. People say that the soap genre is going away, and in my humble opinion I don’t believe it is. I think this is the result of networks doing some penny-pinching and trying to put in cheaper programming. In the long run, they’re going to find that canceling these soaps that have been around for decades is probably not a wise move. It looks good on paper, but the fan bases of these soap operas rival those of primetime shows.
TVLINE | Worst case scenario: If Days eventually goes off the air, you’ve got Booster Gold to fall back on?
The Adventures of Booster Gold sounds good to me! [Laughs]
Catch Booster’s Smallville debut Friday night at 8 pm on The CW.