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SYFY WIRE Smallville

‘Smallville’ cast gently roasts absent Michael Rosenbaum, looks back at show's legacy at NYCC 2022

Lex Luthor wasn't present, so the reunited actors teased him relentlessly. 

By Brian Silliman
SMALLVILLE, (back row): Tom Welling, (middle row): John Glover, Annette O'toole, Allison Mack, John Schneider, (front row): Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, Sam Jones III.

Somebody saaaave me! Before the Arrowverse, and before superhero television really hit it big, there was Smallville. The "no tights, no flights" take on the early days of Clark Kent ran from 2001 to 2012, running for 10 seasons. Audiences watched Clark grow up, have many ordeals, and rejoiced at the very end when he finally ripped that dress shirt off and flew up, up, and away. 

The legacy of the show has endured since it left the air, with both Tom Welling (Clark Kent), and Erica Durance (Lois Lane) showing up in various Arrowverse crossovers along the way. 

Members of the cast reunited to share memories at New York Comic Con 2022, and SYFY WIRE was there. It's always fun when members of this cast get back together. The panel included Welling, Durance, Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang), and John Glover (Lionel Luthor). 

Welling said he has been rewatching the series lately for a podcast about the show with Michael Rosenbaum, who played Lex Luthor on the series.  “The more that time passes, the more I appreciate it," he said. Durance joined the show later, and once thought that Welling had the final say on her casting. “We always argue about that," she said to Welling, who was under the impression that she was already cast when he met her. 

“I think Tom had less power than many of you think he did,” Kreuk joked. 

Glover got involved when someone else had to drop out. He said that he was told it was one appearance, “and they might have you back.” They tried to bring Lionel Luthor back several times, but Glover was always involved in other projects. They gave him a contract for Season 2 to make sure he could join the show: "The character wasn’t supposed to be around until John played the role,"  Welling said. 

There isn't much that Kreuk remembers. “I was so scared most of the time. I was terrified for the beginning of that show," she said. "In that fear state there isn’t a lot I remember.” She then teased Welling when they were asked about what research the actors did about their characters. “He definitely researched it a lot," she laughed. Welling gave the real answer about whether he did research or not: “The short answer is no.” The show was doing it's own thing, and they knew it. “It was clear to me that researching other versions wasn’t going to help," Welling said. 

Welling also shared that he thought the character of Lana Lang was fully invented for Smallville. She wasn't. He was fully in favor of the "no flights, no tights" rule for the series, to the point where it was in his contract: “I don’t know if that ever meant anything to you guys, the no flights no tights…” he said. He wanted the show to remain a character piece. “We wouldn’t have lasted 10 years if we’d put the suit on in Season 1," Welling said. 

A low-level roast of Rosenbaum had been going on throughout the panel at this point, but it eventually came around to him fully.  “He’s able to goof around and keep himself relaxed…and then he can just jump right into it," Welling said of Rosenbaum's process, which definitely had an effect on the other actors. “He can just jump in and out. It was a process to get used to his process," he added. 

“When I started working with him, I wanted to wring his neck,” Glover said. Durance, the self-appointed "nerd" of the set, said that on one occasion she "swore at him" and "left set." She continued to talk about why, and it involved Rosenbaum's actions before a scene they were doing. “He’s just chatting with a cameraman and burping off camera,” Durance said. She ended up storming out, and Rosenbaum eventually ran out to apologize. He was “just living his life," she said. 

“I think he was nervous because he wanted you so badly," Glover interjected. His "Lex-ness" was apparently part of his process, because as Kreuk said, “He pushes, he pushes." 

It didn't end there. Welling talked about the short scene where Lex is seen as President, saying that two pages of a bad speech was written for him because they knew they "weren’t going to use it." Rosenbaum came in and didn't want to rehearse. When it came time to shoot, the cameras rolled and all Rosenbaum said was, “Where are the teleprompters?”

He hadn't memorized the speech at all. “I’m the president!”he said. “I didn’t memorize that s**t, I was just gonna read it.” Welling said that he went off for 10 minutes and did what he could. 

“I think he’s gonna love that he didn’t even show up for the panel," Durance joked, with Kreuk adding, “That will make him happy." It was all in good fun, because as Glover said, “We all love him." 

What makes the show so beloved, all these years later? For Kreuk, it's about “the weirdness that makes you special." For Welling, it's all about identity. "Who am I, why am I here, what am I supposed to do?” he said. He also added something else he believes about the show's legacy, and if there had never been a Smallville.

"Supernatural would never have made it 15 years," Welling joked.  

Click here for more of SYFY WIRE's continuing coverage of New York Comic Con 2022. 

Looking for more superhero action? Check out Heroes, X-Men: First Class and Fantastic Four streaming on Peacock.