AC is back! Yes, Aquaman himself, Alan Ritchson is on this week's Smallville and Newsarama got a chance to chat with him about the show. Since we last saw our favorite underwater superhero, AC had gotten married, he knows his origin, and he's quite a bit darker than he used to be. And I'm not just talking about his new stealthy black costume we all saw online. We got the scoop on the new threads, the new wife, working with dolphins and what advice he has for the newest superhero couple on the block. And of course, Ritchson weighs in on the orange and green and why poor Aquaman gets such a bad rap.
Not sure if we can read anything into his final comment about 'another time and place.' What do you guys think?
Newsarama: Well, I have to start off with the obvious question. What is it like to be back on Smallville?
Alan Ritchson: [laughs] Oh! It's great to be back. It was a pleasant surprise to get the call and be invited back for the tenth season of a TV show. The final season. It's a real gift and I don't take that lightly. It's great to be back.
Nrama: I bet you thought the obvious question was about the costume?
Ritchson: [laughs] Yeah!
Nrama: Let's talk about that then. I actually like the black stealth costume...
Ritchson: Yeah, I heard...I don't read anything really, that people have to say about me or my acting and stuff. I stay away from that. But some people were telling me that some people were upset that I was in a different costume this time around. And that it was black and...[laughs]...and I'm like, what? How can you get upset? I think it's a really cool change. And I think that it's synonymous with the changes we've seen inside of AC. It's just a darker look at this character. He's changed and...not that he's a bad person now, but you know, he's not the same happy-go-lucky character that you've seen before. And I think that this is just sort of another step in that direction, so I think that the costume change is amazing. I'm a huge fan of it. I like the fact that it was darker, sleek, looked more high tech. It just looks more grown up because he is. I like that.
Nrama: Plus, it's hard to be stealthy in orange and green.
Ritchson: [laughs] Yeah! You stick out like a sore thumb. I don't quite get that, you know?
Nrama: Let's talk about the darker story. In the comics we have Aquababy...does that have anything to do with the darkness?
Ritchson: [laughs] Aquababy would probably contribute to a lot of sleepless Aqua nights, but that's not the case as of now. But there is Mera (Elena Satine), and she really helped him understand...Mera really helped him understand his past and where he comes from. And with that sort of...he had to accept or reject his destiny. That's sort of the trip that you're on with Clark (Tom Welling) watching him decide his fate and whether or not he's going to accept that. That's really where AC has been and that carries a lot of burdens with it, and I think you see that and it's changed him in a way. It's been an interesting transformation and she played a big part in that and it has a lot to do with that change.
Nrama: So you now know your own origin story in this episode?
Nrama: Since Aquaman is married...I have to ask about the reaction when he sees Lois (Erica Durance) again.
Ritchson: You know, I was waiting for that as well. When I got the script...I had spoken with the producers about where the story could go and what the plans were...that was the first question I had too. Are we going to...what are we going to do here? And I've been back since that first meeting where we didn't have a chance to touch on it a whole lot, but yeah, it's interesting, because all these relationships are starting to cement. There is a nod at it, I would say. I'm not sure how it's going to play out, but it seems like they've all accepted where they are now and they're moving forward. And that's a good thing, but I think there is a little nod at it.
Nrama: Now that Clark and Lois are moving towards a pretty solid relationship, is there any marriage advice that AC doles out? I think the last time he saw a married superhero, it was the sad story of Hawkman (Michael Shanks).
Ritchson: Yeah. There is a conversation about Clark and Lois for sure and I think it's a pretty good one. Pretty necessary. I like that they can have those moments, you can have those conversations now. Again, it goes back to where they really are. I don't know, if anybody ever dreamed that there would be conversations like this going on between superheroes, but these conversations are happening now because that's where they are. It's great. There is definitely a conversation about that and it's a necessary one.
Nrama: I have to ask you about working with the dolphins. What was that like?
Ritchson: That was awesome! I've worked with live animals before but I've never worked with a dolphin before. It was cool. It was like all those little childhood dreams come to life. You dream about being down by the trainers in an aquarium, and being able to pet them. And some of them...it was just so cool to be so hands on with those creatures. They're so smart and so well trained. But it was funny because, the way the shot was set up required a certain positioning for the trainers and myself to the dolphins, proximity-wise. We found out, in the middle of the scene, that part of the way that these trainers communicate with the dolphins is by their proximity to the dolphins. It happened once on accident [laughs] and it freaked me out. When they take a step back from the dolphins, the dolphins come up. They rush the dock and then they pose. I was literally on the edge of the dock, thinking they're going to swim off backwards and we're about to shoot, and they take their step back to get off the frame, and three dolphins rush me and surround me. [laughs] I freaked out! I didn't know what they were doing! I hadn't seen them do that before and it was the scariest moment ever! I thought I was going to get eaten! [laughs] It was part of their show. It kept happening so we had to actually play with the shot a little bit and it took a long time. But we finally got it and it was just a lot of fun. Very memorable.
Nrama: DVD outtakes?
Ritchson: [laughs] Ha! Yeah, there will be several DVD outtakes for sure.
Nrama: I know Tom directed this episode. What is his style like?
Ritchson: His directorial style is excellent. He's very laid back, which is his personality. He's not...even in very stressful situations when you're going over on time, normally people would start freaking out in the last couple hours, going, 'Now the studio will be breathing down my neck. We've got to get everybody out of here. We've got to get off the clock.' He's just always present and always calm and it makes him very easy to work with him. He's focused about what he does. He knows how to get what he wants, and he'll do what it takes to get the product and get the shot done right and to make sure he's happy with it. He's calm and controlled until that happens. He's great. He's great to work with and he makes it very fun to come in and do your work every day.
Nrama: So what do you think of the current storyline? The outing of superheroes. It seems sort of appropriate to the time period we're in.
Ritchson: Yeah. I think it's a cool evolution for the show, and the necessary thing, I think, is that it's pushing that story forward in that, if they're exposed or forced to expose themselves, I think that's one step closer to realizing who they are and needing to be together as one unit. And that is really what I want to see and I think that's what the fans really want to see. I like that maybe this is how that's going to come to fruition.
Nrama: How much underwater work are we going to see in this episode?
Ritchson: You know what? I got the easy deal this time. Justin (Hartley) had it harder than I did in the water. [laughs] He was water boarded for two and a half days. I took it easy, sitting pretty, suspended from some shackles.
Nrama: Oh, is that all?
Ritchson: [laughs] I didn't have nearly as much water work as normal. I mean, we shot in the water one day. We shot around the water quite a few times. But man, I got it easy this time. There have been times where I was, like, close to death in cold water and just hating it, and this time I was expecting that. But it was nice and dry most of the time. [laughs] I was happy.
Nrama: So what is the relationship like this time between AC and Oliver?
Ritchson: You know, it's amicable. AC is somebody who...he knows what his purpose is in life and what his responsibilities are, and he'll do what it takes to get that done. It doesn't really matter to him who stands with him and who stands against him. He's just going to do what it takes. He knows that Oliver is a good person and has good intentions, and that they can benefit each other. So I think that's sort of a very subconscious motivation for their friendship. But there time together this time is pretty stressful, so you don't really get to see as much of that happy-go-lucky banter as before. It's pretty serious stuff this time, and they've got to figure out a way to get out of a life or death situation. Both of them at the same time. It was kind of a stressful situation but they work well together.
Nrama: I know you've been a really strong supporter of poor Aquaman. He gets such a bad rap and I love him. So what are your feelings on the way feelings have changed about him since the show started?
Ritchson: [laughs] You know, I can't blame anybody, when they make the jokes about Aquaman and what he's capable of. I definitely hear a lot. It's not like I can get upset about it. [laughs] It's funny. And in a way, they're right. There are some problems with the character. But only in the sense that in the world that we're watching him in on screen, there's a problem. In the comic books and in that world, he's one of most powerful superheroes. He's phenomenal. He can do a lot. He rules the seas. But when you're watching him on screen, and you're trying to tell a story about a character like that, you can't do it underwater the whole time. And Smallville takes place on land, so you're sort of injecting this character from another world into this place and it's just...you're already sort of putting him at a disadvantage. For the true fans, I think they recognize that. And for the less supportive fans, it's because they haven't had the opportunity to see him at his full potential. And that's a very, very difficult thing to do on screen. Because water work is not easy. It's not our element. I can't blame them, but I don't agree. I think it's a really cool character and there is a lot of potential there. It's just difficult to get that on camera.
Nrama: And the orange and green...well, the superhero outfits don't always help the situation.
Ritchson: [laughs] Not at all! And even on this show, I don't think it helps the situation, because they could have gone a different route from the beginning. I remember when we were first assembling the costume and I went to...Justin and I went to this shop in Vancouver. This leather shop where this guy custom makes leather jackets. Beautiful custom pieces. It's like an art. And we go there, and he was going to assemble our costumes for us. So he takes some measurements, we pick out the colors and the fabrics we like. And I'm going, oh this is beautiful! This could be an awesome costume. So he gets his, and I come out of my trailer. I'm going to put mine on and I was told that it arrived on set. His was there. His was on. And it's the costume that you know and love from the show. I thought, Green Arrow with the hood and the leather...it's a pretty sick costume. And I thought, oh yeah. That's what I had in mind. Cool, man! Take off the hood and I'm good to go! I want that! And I go in and they hand me a Ziploc bag. I was like, okay cool. I'll put this on. Is this like...does this go underneath? And they said, 'No. That's your costume.' I was like, what? Where's the costume? [laughs] Where's all the leather and whatever? This is like a giant Speedo! And they said, 'Yeah, well, that's the material we thought would work best.' [laughs] So I feel like, what's the guy's name in A Christmas Story when he comes down in the pink bunny suit? That's what I felt like. Like I came down in the pink bunny suit. Like ashamed. [laughs] Like everyone is looking at me in my tight Speedo. But yeah, there has finally been an evolution to the costume. He's got a new costume and it's this really cool material. It's black neoprene kind of thing. It's just a really cool thing. Really high tech-looking. I think it's a cool evolution. But starting out in that, I don't think helped diminish any of those thoughts that those detractors had for that character and whether or not he was really a great superhero. [laughs]
Nrama: Will we actually see any of your origin?
Ritchson: No, you know we talked about it, but it's a very present conversation and a very present episode, so we don't delve into his past a lot. But we mention it. There is a nod to it in the conversation. But you're not going to see where he's been or his origin or what he's learned. Maybe in another time and place, but not this episode.
Smallville airs Friday at 8/7c on the CW. Click here for a gallery from tonight's episode.Excited for Aquaman's return?