‘Smallville’: Justin Hartley looks to the future (and keeps his shirt on)
There are heroes other than Kal-El on the CW’s “Smallville” and Green Arrow is probably the most popular of them. Justin Hartley, once cast as Aquaman, has been a regular cast member for a while, and made his directorial debut in Friday night’s “Dominion” episode. As the show nears its end, Hartley is looking forward to working with his pet film project and getting a little rest after being “beat up” for the last few seasons on the show. Jevon Phillips caught up with him (before the episode aired) and chatted about directing Zod and Oliver Queen‘s future.
Jevon Phillips: Here’s the question that you’ve probably answered a lot lately …
Justin Hartley: My shirt was on during this episode. That’s what you were going to ask me, right?
JP: Not exactly, but thanks for that! Female (and some male) fans might be disappointed. I was going to ask you to describe your experience when you first stepped on the “Smallville” set.
JT: I remember it pretty vividly. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I came from a show where we shot in one direction, with one camera … and we did a scene once. And if you messed up you got looked at funny, like they wanted you to die. And we did it a second time. But we did not do it a third time. And then I came to this show. And the “Aquaman” pilot was such a whirlwind, I don’t even remember it. But I came on set and wondered “Why do we have to do this 18 times? For safety? Why is there a different director every day? Who’s who?” But I figured it out before “Dominion.”
JP: Has your time as Green Arrow made you go out and read/collect the comic book to see what’s currently going on with him?
JT: That’s exactly what I did. I have a bunch of Aquaman comic books. That’s how I did my research for the pilot. And I have a ton of Green Arrow comic books. Even though our Green Arrow is a bit different than the mythology that’s in the comics, you have to be true to what has already been written. You have to embrace that.
JP: Besides Green Arrow, who is your favorite Justice League character on the show?
JT: My wife (Lindsay Hartley) played Mad Harriet. She’s not a Justice Leaguer, but I love that bad girl. And my buddy Eric Martsolf played Booster Gold, but he’s not actually in the League. Hmm. If I had to pick one, I do like Martian Manhunter.
JP: How did you feel about the direction the showrunners took with Oliver and Chloe Sullivan?
JT: I thought they did a good job with the writing. I thought it was fun. We had this guy that was supposed to be the “player” of the show, the bad boy, find this girl who, if you think about it, was the goodie two-shoes of the show. These two find each other and figure out that they have so much more in common than they thought they ever would. It’s sweet. It grounds Oliver and it gives Chloe a little fire.
JP: What made you want to take the director’s chair?
JT: They forced me into it, dude. I didn’t want to do it! … For me, I like to be the best actor I can be. I found a very comfortable style in that if I know everyone’s job around me, it’s going to make me better at my job. So, one of the things I wanted to do was direct. There’ve been a couple of times that a director will walk up and say something to me, and all it does is make me mad. Inside I’ll go “Well, that wasn’t helpful at all.” And I want to know why that happens. For the amount that they’re letting me direct, at least I’ll understand, and it absolutely has made me a better actor.
JP: So what did you learn?
JT: You realize that a lot of times the direction you get is not necessarily for you. It might be for another actor, or it might be for the stage … it could be for anybody. Or it could be for you. It made me a better actor, just like writing an episode made me a better actor as well. A lot of the stuff you read is not for you. There are other people reading the script! It all just opened my eyes. They’re entrusting you with a lot of money, and more important than the money, they’re entrusting you with the name “Smallville.”
JP: You get to give fans your particular guiding hand on Zod. He’s a longtime Superman foe, so what makes the character so compelling?
JT: Specifically, in our episode, John Chisholm, the guy who wrote the script, did a really good job of making the way Zod talks coincide with the way Callum [Blue] plays the character. Callum, when he showed up, did a phenomenal job of making everything work, taking what is on the page and breathing life into it. I would say those two guys and their work in my episode are what make Zod so compelling. Any super villain in “Smallville” is compelling, but what Callum did — I can’t thank him enough.
JP: In your head, where is Oliver Queen going, post-“Smallville.”
JT: I think Oliver, in my head, he was always doing what he did in the comics. He’s setting his sights on political aspirations and running things and defeating evil … becoming the strong hand of the law.
— Jevon Phillips
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