What good is being a superhero if you don’t have any villains to thwart? Such was the conundrum facing the Smallville writing team last summer as they prepared to plan out the show’s eighth season. At the end of season seven, Clark finally managed to fell the crafty Brainiac (James Marsters) but even worse was the loss of Superman’s future uber-nemesis Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) from the entire series. Way back when Alfred Gough and Miles Millar initially created Smallville, the disintegration of Lex and Clark’s small town friendship into bitter enemies was supposed to take the show to its last episode and into the Superman mythology. With Rosenbaum moving on to other roles (with hair included) that left the Smallville showrunners with one huge, villainous space to fill.
And so it took two nasty figures to fill the well-appointed shoes of Mr. Luthor. One is a brand new addition to the mythology and the other just happens to kill Superman in the future…Welcome to Smallville Tess Mercer and Doomsday. Played by newcomer Cassidy Freeman and Battlestar Galactica vet Sam Witwer respectively, this dynamic duo of dark lands in Metropolis to mess around with just about everyone in the show’s cast.
Freeman and Witwer made their big debut in front of the devout Smallville this summer fans and recently spoke to Newsarama about trying to bring more hurt to Clark Kent’s world.
Newsarama: Sam, having worked on Battlestar Galactica and in the upcoming video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed , how does it feel to be working on a third major media franchise?
Sam Witwer: It’s confusing! [laughs] It's really great because as a kid I was a huge Superman fan and watched all the movies with my parents. I'm a big pop culture mythology guy so stories like the Superman mythology and the Star Wars mythology, they’re significant and they’re important because I think they’re great tools for teaching basic moralities, especially to kids. So that's why I am so into them and that’s why I feel very lucky to be a part of it.
NRAMA: Cassidy, tell us who Tess Mercer is?
Cassidy Freeman: Well Tess is a go-go dancer come to take over the world. No, not really! [laughs] Tess is fierce and fun. She came from nothing and is super, super smart, which I love. She started working for Lex and saw how powerful he was and how strong he was, so thankfully she was chosen to fill in for him.
NRAMA: Is it true you did a pilot earlier this year with Justin Hartley (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow)?
Freeman: Yes. The pilot I shot with Justin was so much fun. We got to play paramedics, so there was a lot of needles involved and there was a lot of tubing. It was really cool then to have the opportunity to work with him again because it's a familiar face coming into a group of people who you don't know; it's nice to have one person that you do know. Justin is sort of the funniest guy I know.
NRAMA: Do your characters interact?
Freeman: What I can tell you is that we know each other and I'm still finding out how we know each other but we do.
NRAMA: Sam, tell us a little about your dual role as Davis Bloome/Doomsday?
Witwer: Davis Bloome is a paramedic in Metropolis. He’s a very cool, conscientious nice guy. He's this sort of a perpetual outsider. He grew up in the foster system. He was bounced from home to home and had a very tough childhood. He is brought into the story because he forms this fast friendship with Chloe [and] eventually he starts sort of blacking out, missing time and he becomes curious as to why that is happening.
What he learns is really horrible stuff. He finds out that he is innately the opposite of what he wanted to be. Hopefully the telling of that story will be very sad and psychologically messed up and it will probably very easily be the darkest stuff Smallville has ever done. Then eventually he is Doomsday and he will eventually resemble the character DC Comics fans are expecting,
NRAMA: How will he look?
Witwer: That I can not comment on but I will say that he will eventually resemble what people are expecting.
NRAMA: How does it feel playing the guy that will eventually kill Superman?
Witwer: Well he's been asking for it man! [laughs] You know, who doesn't want to take a swing at that guy? I just hope the fans like what we do with it because it's our own interpretation. It's with the blessing of DC Comics and we are not invalidating any back story that Doomsday's had previously but we are interpreting and adding to that back story and hopefully the fans dig on it. I’ll take my best shot at that guy.
NRAMA: What do Tess and Davis want from Clark this season?
Freeman: I really want to know who he is and what’s going on with him. I am very inquisitive about Clark because he was close to Lex and Lex is missing. That's pretty much the only thing I want to find out right now is where he is and I think that Clark can help me do that, so I'm trying to find out ways that I can convince Clark to help me out.
Witwer: It’s hard to say. I do know where the relationship is going and I can't say anything about that but it's a very cool thing. Where that relationship is going, it's a new type of thing for the show. I'll say this, I don't think Clark has had the opportunity to have a friend like Davis and likewise. I can't get any more vague than that can I? They’re going to have a very unique buddy-buddy friendship and that sounds weird, too, doesn't it? I just can't talk about it. I really can't. It's an awesome idea though; it's a really awesome idea.
NRAMA: Will Tess and Davis work together at some point for no good?
Freeman: I hope so!
Witwer: Yeah, geez! We are both from Chicago. Our dads know each other.
Freeman: Isn’t that weird? It’s such a small world. I think maybe we hung out at the park as babies but we just didn’t know.
NRAMA: Since Tess is obsessed with Lex – do you hope Michael Rosenbaum might come back this season and your characters could connect?
Freeman: Oh my gosh! Who wouldn't love to work with Michael Rosenbaum? The stories are incredible. Everybody loves him and watching him, he's so talented. I'd absolutely love to work with Michael Rosenbaum.
NRAMA: Had you both been Smallville fans prior to signing onto the show?
Freeman: Yeah the show actually started when I was going to college and I didn’t have a TV. [laughs] But after I got out, I did start watching it and I’m an even bigger fan now.
Witwer: I had seen some episodes here and there.
NRAMA: Has it been hard portraying Davis’ dark side?
Witwer: It’s exhausting. Playing those roles, it's really tiring but it's a great challenge. I like doing things that intimidate me. You know when I read the script for The Mist I was like, ‘I don't know how I am going to do that. I don't know how that's going to work out.’ Same thing with Dexter. I've had the opportunity to play a lot of things where I just had no idea how it was going to go and I was intimidated and I didn't think it was going to work out. Yeah it's really tough. It’s easier to play the nicer guy and that's what we're doing right now so I'm happy but eventually you do want to challenge yourself, you do want to stretch. I'm looking forward to exhausting myself.
NRAMA: Are there any other geek franchises that you have on your wish list to be part of?
Freeman: I did a short film about 2 or 3 years ago called Razor Sharp that won the film festival at Comic-Con. It was the coolest and I got to do all this fighting. I love doing comic book and fantasy stuff because you can go so far outside the realm of reality.
NRAMA: Are you worried how the fans are going to accept your characters? Do you want to know?
Witwer: I try to stay away from that stuff. I was told that early on. I think Katee Sackhoff suggested that because she went though hell with that stuff [re: playing Starbuck]. I try to stay away from it and just kind of do what I think I should do and hope they like it and eventually it will trickle back whether people like it or not. I'd rather have that happen in sort of a more natural process then going to seek out every opinion.
Freeman: I don't stay up late at night Googling myself too often but I will say that I do like to hear because I don't take things very personally and I know that a lot of the time I am just more impressed and excited that people care so much, even if it's negative. I have views and opinions about a lot of things…I know what I like and I think people need to be heard.
Witwer: I’m not as strong as her. [laughs]
NRAMA: How was it working on the Smallville set?
Freeman: They are an incredibly well-oiled machine. They are good-hearted people and there’s no diva on set, which is rare. It was daunting at first just moving up there but it’s been an incredible transition.
Witwer: What's cool is that there are members of the crew that were on Battlestar, so getting there, there were some friendly faces. That was really awesome.
Smallville Season Eight premieres on The CW at 8pm (EST) on September 18th.