Smallville's Big Finish: An Oral History Marking 5 Years Since Clark Took Flight

Smallville Series Finale Oral History

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Though every Clark needs his Lois, Smallville would run for three seasons before introducing the iconic love interest, here positioned as a cousin of Chloe’s.
SOUDERS | Lois has to be one of the most difficult characters to play, because she’s super-opinionated, extremely bright and a little abrupt, and at the same time she has to be likable.

ERICA DURANCE, played Lois Lane | I was at a point in my life where I was a bit frustrated with the business, so when I learned they were casting Lois Lane, being here in Vancouver, I said to my manager, “I’m sure they’ll just cast out of Los Angeles.” They had to talk me into going out for it.

BRIAN PETERSON, executive producer | Erica was one of the last people to come in, bit the first second we saw her on screen we knew she was the one.

DURANCE | I got it on a Friday evening, and we started on Monday. [Laughs] Sometimes the less time you have to stress about something, the better. I met Tom the Sunday before, when he came in to read some scenes with me. That made me feel a lot more comfortable.

WELLING | I came back a day early from one of our hiatuses, and Erica and I spent four or five hours with Greg Beeman and found the chemistry. That gave us a jump-start.

PETERSON | The fact that we only had the Lois Lane character for a limited number of episodes in those first years was actually helpful in telling that story at the pace it needed to be told.

DURANCE | Originally it was just a four-episode arc, to see if people accepted me or not, and then it ended up being seven, then 13….

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Fresh off his run on the NBC soap Passions, Justin Hartley was tapped to headline The WB’s untitled Aquaman pilot; when that didn’t go, he found a home in Smallville. That same season, Veronica Mars’ Aaron Ashmore grabbed a camera as Jimmy Olsen. A year later, Instant Star‘s Laura Vandervoort was tapped to play Clark’s Krypton cousin Kara (aka Supergirl).
JUSTIN HARTLEY, played Oliver Queen/Green Arrow | I was literally about to pack my bags for a job in Australia when Al Gough called me and said, “Justin, don’t go! I think I have something for you.” The pitch was really quick: This guy comes in, he’s kind of brash, and he’s actually going to be wearing a costume, which we’ve never done before. So I shot that, came back the next season for one episode, and then came back [in Season 8] as a regular.

PETERSON | Justin has this charisma on screen that you want
to watch. He popped so much that when we learned he might be available [full-time], we wanted him back.

HARTLEY | Up to that point, Clark had people either telling him, “You have these abilities, so you should do this,” or, “You’ve got to hide them to protect everyone.” He never had anyone dress up in the suit and show him what it could be like.

MACK | [Oliver/Green Arrow] brought a maturity, intelligence and danger that our show needed, especially after Michael [Rosenbaum] left.

AARON ASHMORE, smallville-jimmy-ashmoreplayed Henry James (and then James Bartholomew) Olsen | The casting process for me was quite bizarre. My brother Shawn had played a villain [Eric Summers] in a few episodes, so I thought it would be pointless to audition for such a large role on a show that my twin brother had already guest starred on. Because the role was Jimmy Olsen, I decided to put myself on tape, not thinking that I had any shot at it. About a week later I got a call asking if I wanted to fly to Vancouver. No chemistry read, nothing. It was one of the easiest casting processes I ever had.

LAURA VANDERVOORT, played Kara Zor-El | I self-taped for the role of Supergirl in my hometown of Toronto, and from what I recall I didn’t hear anything for over a month, so I’d forgotten about it. Then out of the blue we got a call while up at my family’s cottage. I had sprained my ankle while out hiking, so I literally “hopped” in the car and drove back into the city, packed a bag and grabbed a blue dress and red heels — yep, still had to wear the heels. [After testing against three other actresses], someone came out and asked everyone to go home and that I stay. Of course I assumed I was in trouble, but by morning I had the job! A week or so later I was living in Vancouver — my first time living away from home — and doing harness training for flying stunts.

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Smallville faced its trickiest transition when Michael Rosenbaum decided to vacate the role of Lex after seven seasons. Though he would ultimately return for the series finale (calling it a favor to “all of the fans who made Smallville the great success it is”), Cassidy Freeman was the one to lord over LuthorCorp and its illicit endeavors during his absence.
ROSENBAUM | Many people still ask, “Why did you leave Smallville?” It’s simple: I didn’t leave. My contract was for six years; I did seven. Truth is I really wanted to get back into comedy, write my own material, direct, produce and just explore. But I got emotional the day I left. Seven years is a long time to do anything, and I spent 70 months with these folks up in Vancouver. I cried my face off when I left that make up trailer for the last time.

KREUK | Michael is a strong actor and Lex is a strong character, so it was hard not to notice when he left. While I can’t speak for others, I think people respected his decision.

WELLING | Rosenbaum is a good friend of mine, so while it was sad, I knew it was the best choice for him. But I didn’t know know what to expect after that, how they were going to keep the show going with the villain being gone.

PETERSON | As you can imagine, losing one of he most beloved characters on the show and filling those shoes was — for us and for Cassidy — astronomical.

CASSIDY FREEMAN, played Tess Mercer aka Lutessa Luthor | I didn’t know quite the extent that Tess would be filling Lex’s shoes. I was told that she was a mixture of [the original Superman films’] Miss Teschmacher and Mercy Graves from the DC Comics, and that she was going to be a vixen of sorts. Definitely not a good person.

SOUDERS | It’s been a lot of fun growing that character, because what Cassidy brings to the show is something none of us expected.