‘Smallville’ producers: ‘Where do we fit into the greater mythology?’ [updated]

May 10, 2011 | 8:12 p.m.

The end is near for “Smallville.” The two-hour series finale this Friday brings an end to the decade-long saga of Clark Kent, as portrayed by Tom Welling, a young man in search of a future that is, well, super. The rural youngster has grown up — he’s even sold the family farm — and the show’s final flight will be a major moment for The CW.  Our Geoff Boucher caught up with executive producers Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson to talk about a show that is going up, up and away. 

"Smallville" (Warner Bros.)

GB: This must be a bittersweet week for you. You must be going through a lot of complicated emotions right now.

BP: That is absolutely correct. It’s very sad to see it go but also there’s just great pride in seeing what everybody has accomplished in 10 years and over  the course of the whole show — people who are here and people who may not be here  right at the very end but have been a part of it.

GB: The show had different chapters to its run and as it went on we saw a widening of the hero and villain ranks with more and more characters from the DC universe. What were the challenges as you went along?

KS: The challenge is trying to bring two-dimensional characters to life. Sometimes it’s more successful than others. It’s very difficult to make a costumed character who can fly — or whatever it may be – seem organic to a television show that is being filmed on Earth with gravity and things like that. Luckily, we have been able to rely on our amazing wardrobe department and our incredible cinematographers that we’ve had and fantastic directors and fantastic actors who could really get in the head space of making this a real world. It’s one thing to sit there and imagine what Metallo is going to come to life as but it’s very different to see it on a screen and it’s always a huge risk and we’ve been very lucky to have great people we can lean on to make it fantastic and somewhat believable.

GB: The show moved away from “Smallville” in emphasis quite a while ago and even Tom Welling has said that the show’s title could have switched to “Metropolis” in a way. Was that a concern as you balanced your brand with the necessary trajectory of the story?

BP: In a weird way “Smallville” wasn’t just about where it was set even though he did live on the farm for almost the whole series. It was more about the coming-of-age birth of a hero and the spirit and growth of a hero. He was not ready to become the hero that everyone knows as Superman. We tried to stay true to a lot of the themes and the visual palette of the pilot but as he grew and Clark became a different person and came into his own the show had to do the same. We took all of that in. In the finale, in fact, Lois calls him [by the nickname] “Smallville” again.

GB: What sort of pressure did you feel as far as this finale — did you feel the need to put Clark in the Superman suit and tie up every single loose end or did you approach more from the idea of “What’s the best story we can tell?”

Tom Welling (Warner Bros. Television Entertainment)

BP: At the heart of it, it’s always about Clark and his journey so that took the forefront of any other issues. But I think that, facing the finale, we had the season to wrap up, we had the series to consider and the more earnest, farm-bound origins of the show; and then we had to think about where do we fit into the greater mythology. At the heart of it, luckily, was Clark and Tom was a really good partner with us in finding that balance.

GB: Superman has become like “Swan Lake” or Shakespeare, every generation revisits, remakes, revises and revamps the source material again and again. There’s going to be a new Superman film coming but then also a “Justice League” film and there may be a Superman television project down the line that connects back into this one. Would you be surprised if you saw Tom Welling in one of these other endeavors wearing the red-and-blue suit of Superman? Or do you think he will walk away for good?

KS: It’s funny I actually never think about the two [television and film] crossing over, in a strange way. “Smallville” had such a life of its own. So oddly, I never really think of it in that way.

BP: It’s interesting because he makes such a great Clark Kent and would make a great counterpart as well but I think he’s dedicated 10 years of his life to this era, in that story, and I feel like with this finale he’s really done it justice.

GB: He’s owned the role of Clark Kent longer than anyone, which is interesting since, onscreen, the character goes all the way back to the early 1940s. That’s impressive in and of itself, isn’t it?

BP: It’s not the easiest character to play. He’s the most amazing person on earth.

KS: It’s really difficult to write a character, too, that is so earnest and to do it without making him boring, honestly. I think it’s very easy to say, “Oh he always tells the truth” and “Oh, he’s always polite,” but Tom and the writers did an amazing job making him a well-rounded, three-dimensional character without making him a caricature of a simpleton. A lot of that was Tom and what he brings to it, who he is as a person. He has a sense of humor and all of those things went into making him the perfect Clark Kent and that’s something that is hard to duplicate.

BP: And the whole cast. What’s so funny is that, of course, sci-fi isn’t exactly a front-runner in the Emmys ever, but their performances have to bridge such an amazing range. They go to the Phantom Zone, they go to Earth 2, they die from kryptonite, they’re hung from wires — the range with which our actors have to embody their characters always impresses me. The way they rise to the occasion, from Erica Durance to Cassidy Freeman to Justin Hartley and Allison Mack  — everybody on the show has done an amazing job.

[FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this post had an incorrect spelling of Erica Durance's last name]

– Geoff Boucher


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‘Smallville’: Eric Martsolf and the Booster Gold era

Saying goodbye to ‘Smallville’

VIDEO: Christopher Reeve on ‘Tonight Show’

Clint Eastwood could have been Superman

Look, up in the sky it’s … Henry Cavill

Synder: Superman is a tough one to crack

U.K. actors now play Superman, Batman, Spidey


13 Responses to ‘Smallville’ producers: ‘Where do we fit into the greater mythology?’ [updated]

  1. Juli says:

    Why the heck would you put photos of the new Metorpolis on this web page? WB and DC Comics – not wild about your choices… Henry C for superman and DC Comics for having Superman give up citizenship in the US.

  2. Mary says:

    Weren't we promised new pictures of Tom Welling?
    Yes, "legacy" "mythology" blah blah blah
    Were are my new Tom pictures??????

  3. Bob Smith says:

    My favorite show on TV right now is Smallville, but I don’t always get the chance to watch it Fridays on TV. I just ran across this site and have to say that I’ve been a fan since I watched the first episode. Now that I have Sling technology with DISH Network, I never miss any of the shows. I live a very busy life and I use my iPhone to see his shows while on my lunch break at work. Being that I am a customer and employee of DISH I can’t recommend the TV Everywhere feature enough to anyone with a busy lifestyle, thanks DISH!

  4. RJo says:

    Lovely little article, but I'm afraid you've misspelled Erica's last name; it's Durance, not Durant. Cheers.

  5. robert says:

    I am going to miss SMALLVILLE so much, i love the show i love the stories the chacters i love Superman and Tom Welling will finally become Superman. I can't wait for the series finale.

    Tom Welling is and will always forever be SUPERMAN

  6. guest says:

    I'm sure going to miss this show! Tom Welling will always be "Superman" to me, of all the Superman characters Tom portrayed him perfectly, so anyone else will always be 2nd fiddle to Tom and Smallville! That would be great if they would make a Superman TV series and Tom would play "himself" again! We just don't have any good Sci-Fi programs on TV to watch anymore, they take them all off the air without giving them a chance!

  7. Binod says:

    So what I am Fan or Superfan? I can't imagine it's been 10 years for Smallville and 6 years for me. Over the time i feel like i grew up in Smallville? Though a fantasy, but Smallville has given me a lot over the years. Yes, i had always been waiting for clark to be the mean he was meant to be, but now it's sad that when this moment finally arrives, it's gonna end. It's a tragedy for me to miss smallville.
    keeping all those beind, I'm just over excited for the finale this friday.

  8. ocj says:

    Such a great show, the story lines where great and kept me interested all these years. I'm sorry to see Smallville end. The characters were great, the writing was great. and I will miss it.

  9. MARK says:

    I have been a Supeman fan for over 50 years. Tom Welling and the writing staff & cast really brought new life to an old story. My wife and myself never missed a story It's sad that such a good show came to an end. THANK YOU FOR TEN YEARS OF GOOD WRITING AND SCI-FI.

  10. Anthony Balga says:

    ever since i heard it was coming to The WB, which had the best programs and i watched more than any other channel, i was excited because i am now 44 almost 45 but was obviously ten years younger at 34,35. right before it started i had to have my neck fused because of a work injury while driving in 2000 of Christmas weekend and now had titanium screws and these titanium cages and the x-rays looked like i had part of a bicycle chain in my neck. by the time the show started i was in miserable pain daily only when i slept i was not in pain. i bought the Talon mix C/D and would listen to it and cry and would get excited and emotional when the theme song would start and my daughter would run in the room i was in and hear the song and dance her little just learning to walk self and make me smile knowing she, the only other motivation for waking in the morning and getting out of bed, felt some of what i did every time i watched an episode. i was young and and feel like i still am. but being on large dosed meds and multiple drugs for the pain. i wanted to be saved and rescued some how and since then and seeing all the fantastic episodes and effects on Smallville i was very hopeful i would someday get better. Mr. Welling and all the multi talented actors and actresses, i know all their names, helped me to go away for an hour a week every year and soon to come were 4 more surgeries to fuse my lower back just like my neck, and many more and some different meds that made me more out of it and broke one of those titanium screws, which i thought were un breakable but after being just put in weren't as strong as much later so had it taken out and got a very bad staff infection which damaged many nerves in my lower back and body,legs feet and body functions were not able to and still aren't able to be felt. so many painful moments later i still had my Smallville to take me away and look forward to the next show. i had dreams of it i cant remember due to obvious reasons but it really did more than that it made comforting memories i could just by watching an old episode now on HDNET recall and learn something new. i was so out of it to remember at the time so many episodes were like the first time i saw them, which i really appreciated them now for a second time. i don't really write this for anyone other than the people who i know were many that brought the show to me, which seemed very personal at the time and still does. i hope someone will read this, fans and those personally involved, and share it with others and hope all who really think about what they do can and does affect others when it may seem like it isn't doing any thing at all but going to work and making a pay check. i have relied on many people, doctors lawyers and assistants and nurses and pharmacists and many other professionals. if Smallville has made me do only one thing, which it has done many, it taught me that any one can affect any one else's life at any given time for any amount of time and it makes a difference no matter how insignificant it might seem at the time. finally i did find something that had ironically been around for 30 years now to help me that isn't a drug at all. it is in fact a couple of electrode wires implanted in my spine in my low back and neck with a palm sized rechargeable battery from the outside of my hips that will take my pain away like an external t.e.m.s. unit an electronic piece of equipment used for pain therapy with people in my situation and it doesn't hurt at all. it is done on a trial on the outer body unit first to see if u like the way it feels and works. i do and will have them implanted as soon as the insurance says ok. so thank you Smallville and all those involved i will miss you all and appreciate all that it took from what you all gave and i know some gave all after ten years some people died and are no longer here, one, i don't know her name who was a casting director that i remember that did pass away and was remembered after the first five years when the WB merged with CBS. i hope i have and can affect others if only one i will be a hero to someone. Thank You for all you all have done the last ten years of my life.

  11. John says:

    Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson –

    Let me first say that the show rapped up the story of Clark Kent in a memorable and satisfying way. I give you a 10/10 for that.

    But the show lasted ten seasons. We were all waiting to see him become Superman. Of course the goal was to wrap up Clark Kent, but to the fans who have been waiting to see him become Superman, it was an incredible let down. If you intended on the finale being "the beginnings of Superman," then you failed at that. I wish you could tell us that you had budget problems/copyright laws that prevented him from actually wearing the suit or being called Superman, but to actually not write in such an iconic moment? It really speaks to the lack of respect you have for a certain portion of Smallville fans.

    I think everyone would have been satisfied to see him wear the suit. Instead you decided to go for controversy. What a shame. For as much time as I have dedicated to watching this show, I am disappointed that you two have reaped the benefits of my viewership.

  12. WeNdelloreN says:

    Já que a serie Smallville tem milhares de fãs no mundo todo, penso que no filme novo do Superman deveria iniciar do inicio e sim aparecendo o Tom Welling, assim que nem no 1º filme Superman e sim depois entrando o novo ator que foi escolhido para o Superman.
    E espero que este Superman seja mais homem, ou seja um pouco mal, que possa mostra por que é o SUPERMAN, afinal de contas com tantos poderes e fica com frescura para usalos, tem q quebrar os cara, quebra o chão quando chegar rasga o carro, esmurra e quebra carro parede.

  13. Trevis says:

    You guys really need to make a season 11 smallville,not no comic book,thts not what the people want including me,we want it on tv like before and bring the same charecters back,smallville is the greatest show to me and that’s all I watch and now that its done I’m bored so bring us smallville season 11 and when you do start it off with Lois aka Erica durance and clark aka Tom welling getting married cause the first time it was interrupted and I want to see it happen Forreal,then kick off with the episodes,I’m like begging you guys to bring back smallville a in make the season 11 pleaseeeeeeeeeee.

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