Smallville's Jimmy Olsen Looking to Grow in Season 8

To be, or not to be … a dentist. That was a question that actor Aaron Ashmore pondered when he was just eight years old. He had no idea that he would one day set his sights on a very different line of work. “My twin brother [and fellow actor Shawn Ashmore, Bobby Drake/Iceman in the X-Men films] and I were kids when we began acting, but back then I never thought, ‘This is something I can eventually make a living at,” says Ashmore. “I had a good time doing it, but it was more like a hobby to me than anything else.

“After graduating high school I traveled around a bit and did a couple of jobs that I liked, but then I began to wonder if I should pursue this ‘other career’ [acting]. So the whole dentist idea went out the window and I began to focus all my energies towards the acting. And here I am today.”

Having cut his acting teeth doing TV adverts, Ashmore, who was born in Richmond, British Columbia, began booking day roles on such Canadian-made TV shows as Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Due South and La Femme Nikita. “I was getting more to do in front of the camera, and it was just fun to be on-set,” he says. The actor has since built up his resume to include a variety of small and big screen roles. In 2006 he was cast as Jimmy Olsen in the hit CW Network TV show Smallville. Oddly enough, it was a part that he almost let slip through his fingers.

“I was in Toronto visiting my family and friends when I heard about the audition for Jimmy Olsen,” recalls Ashmore. “They [the casting people] wanted me to put my audition on tape and send it down to them in Los Angeles. That’s when I began to think, ‘They’ll probably want to hire an actor they can see in the room and actually work with.’ However, I read the [audition] sides and loved the role, so I knew I had to go for it. I did an audition tape, sent it to LA, and then didn’t hear anything for almost ten days. That’s when I got a call asking if I’d like to fly to Vancouver the next day and play Jimmy Olsen. So it was one of those out-of-the-blue-type offers and I couldn’t have been happier.”

An ex-boyfriend of Daily Planet reporter Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack), Jimmy Olsen comes to Metropolis in Smallville’s sixth season opener "Zod" and is subsequently hired by the newspaper as a photo journalist. Ashmore reprised his role in nine additional episodes that same season, including "Noir", in which Jimmy is knocked out and “wakes up” in a very different Smallville.

“That story is probably my favorite one so far on Smallville just from the standpoint of we got to dress up and play these characters from the 1940s,” says the actor. “I think everyone here really enjoyed themselves because it gave us all the opportunity to emulate those old Humphrey Bogart movies and do something completely out of the box and pretty cool.”

When Smallville began airing its seventh season it did so with a new addition to the cast, namely Ashmore, who came onboard as a series regular. “It was fun to be back, but even more so, to be like, ‘Wow, they’re making me part of the gang,” he enthuses. “I couldn’t believe it. Having been away from the character for a few months I thought I might be a little rusty stepping back into Jimmy’s shoes, but it wasn’t like that. In fact, I got right into the swing of things and just moved along with everyone else, so it was all good.”

During the recent Smallville hiatus, Ashmore worked on three films, a drama entitled Privileged as well as two upcoming thrillers, Dead End and The Thaw. In early August, he and the rest of the Smallville cast and crew returned to Vancouver to begin shooting the show’s eighth and final season, one that the actor hopes has plenty more in store for his TV alter ego.

“So far the writers have really developed the relationship between Chloe and Jimmy, but there has only been a little bit of interaction with him and Clark Kent [Tom Welling],” notes Ashmore. “However, since we know that down the road the two of them are supposed to be best of friends, there are still a lot of places they can go with that relationship. So I’m looking forward to that. It’s the same with Jimmy and Lois Lane [Erica Durance]. The two of them shared some fun little scenes together last year and I think we’ll be seeing more of that in season eight. Jimmy and Lois have a brother/sister thing going on where they kind of poke fun at each other, which is a neat dynamic. So I hope that they explore that a little more.

“What I’m especially looking forward to and hoping for, though, is some further development with Jimmy himself. The character has kind of been going around in circles as far as having self-confidence issues and trying to get out of that rut if you will, but then falling back into it because he hasn’t really grown up quite yet. I’ve talked with our writers a little bit and it sounds like there’s going to be a duality to Jimmy this year. They’re going to try to bring a stronger, more confident and capable side to him, which I think will be interesting for viewers to watch and for me to play.

“Jimmy is always going to have that goofy, puppy-dog side to him, but I feel there’s a great deal of room, especially in a TV show like Smallville, to fill in this character and reveal other sides to him. We’ve definitely begun to see that in earlier episodes, and I think this year there will be opportunities to do more. I’m ready to take what they give me and run with it. So we’ll see what happens.”

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