When Elizabeth Tulloch first started acting, one of her teachers gave her an assignment: Go watch the screen tests for all the actresses who were up for the part of Lois Lane in the original Richard Donner Superman and then come back and tell them why Margot Kidder got the part.
“She was having fun with it,” Tulloch recalls in an interview with SYFY WIRE. Even when the stakes were high, Kidder’s Lois Lane had a certain special levity to it. That acting teacher’s lesson ended up being especially useful for Tulloch, who has played Lois in several of the Arrowverse’s crossover episodes, and now on Superman & Lois, which premieres tonight on The CW.
Tulloch’s still making sure to have fun with her Lois, but things are a little different for the character in the new show. For starters, Lois and Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin) are parents to two teenage boys now, due to the multiverse-altering events of The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover in 2019. Then there’s the fact that The Daily Planet’s star reporter and her husband have left the city of Metropolis behind for rural Smallville. It’s an “added complexity and profundity,” she explains.
Tulloch gave SYFY WIRE the rundown on how things have (or haven’t) changed for Lois now that she’s the co-lead of a show, Lois’ move from big city to small town, and whether or not Lois will kick any ass in this series. (The answer to that last one? Yes, in more ways than one.)
How is your Lois different from how we saw her in earlier Arrowverse appearances? Obviously, she has kids now and she’s moved away?
I wouldn’t say I’m changing the way I’m playing the character. Probably it is slightly more serious in certain scenes because she’s dealing with teenagers who are hormonal and acting out and being bratty, so there’s… Tyler and I have a lot more to do. We have this backstory, we’re working a lot more. The show is really rooted in this family drama, but you certainly see a slightly more stern, dare I say grounded Lois Lane because she’s having to deal with some tough stuff.
Lois Lane is an interesting character because so many great creators have worked hard to establish that she’s much more than just “Superman’s girlfriend” or “Superman’s wife.” Was making sure that Lois was a fully realized character on her own, without the Man of Steel, important to you and the showrunners?
It feels like part of the reason that Tyler and I have enjoyed these characters is that there’s a lot of mutual respect between the two of them. You’re not seeing this Lois as being much of a damsel in distress. She knows that he’s there for her if she needs him, but Lois, in our series, has her own archnemesis. [Clark] is offering support and she doesn’t need it. You are seeing a more empowered Lois.
Where you do see her being clumsy and see Clark being clumsy is when they’re trying to parent teenagers. This version of Lois, a lot of it has to do with having this intense drive to succeed as a journalist but also be a good parent to her kids. Now she’s having to be a journalist and to have to write these stories without the platform or resources of The Daily Planet, which is an added layer of difficultly for her.
It’s Lois dealing with kind of being a fish out of water in Smallville. This is a woman who is very much a city girl and doesn’t necessarily understand or feel very confident in a slower-paced life. That’s part of her journey, getting to know the residents of Smallville and to get to understand them. How do you really fight for someone unless you really understand their struggles and what they’ve been through?
My next question was what changes for Lois when she leaves the hustle and bustle of Metropolis and The Daily Planet for small-town, Smallville life, so you got ahead of me! [Laughs.]
Yeah, there’s a big learning curve for her. She assumes everybody’s going to automatically see her side of things and understand why she’s anti-[series villain] Morgan Edge, but they view her as an outsider, as they should, because she is.
Is there any change in her relationship with Clark Kent in the series? Either due to the move or having kids? And, maybe this is a different answer, but is there a change in her relationship with Superman?
The main difference is that we’re seeing a version of Lois Lane who is in on it. At this point in the storyline, she’s been around Superman enough that he’s not hiding anything from her. They’re hiding stuff from their kids and then the kids are having to hide things from their friends. It’s not like there aren’t secrets — there are still lots of secrets — but at least with Lois and Clark you’re seeing a version of them, this iconic couple that is supportive of each other, they’re not particularly codependent, they’re very communicative about what is going on.
Like, she gets him. That’s sort of how I’ve chosen to play it. We’re trying not to “origin story” it — we see flashes of [the early days of Lois and Clark’s relationship], but not a ton of it. I feel like that even when Lois didn’t know that Clark was Superman, and she didn’t understand this sort of odd oddball, he made sense to her on some level. She just gets him, admires him, understands why Superman is so important to people. He’s someone for them to believe in and he’s someone that always looks for the best in people. There’s a lot of respect that both of them have for each other.
Is there a part of the show that you’re the most excited for viewers to see?
I would say the family aspect of it. You’re seeing Superman and Lois Lane — these very iconic characters, these very strong characters, oftentimes portrayed as somewhat perfect — you’re seeing them be clumsy. You’re seeing them be fallible and vulnerable and you’re seeing them make mistakes when it comes to parenthood. They’re sort of rejiggering their lives. "Hey, we’ve been prioritizing our careers and it’s been hurting our kids. Maybe re-upping and moving from Metropolis to Smallville is exactly what this family needs, as crazy as it’s going to be for all of us."
There’s a sort of realization that they really need to put their sons first, especially at this very delicate, impressionable moment in their lives.
My last question is, does Lois get a chance to kick any ass in the show?
Absolutely. Yes. Lois Lane is kickass even without any physical fighting or anything. She’s a badass. She’s super smart and driven and she really, to me, embodies the aphorism “be the change you wish to see in the world.” She wants to save the world, too, with her intellect and her words. She doesn’t care what anybody thinks of her, she’s not doing the work for glory or prizes, she’s doing it because she too believes in justice and truth. Will we also see her kick some ass and be a badass? Yes.
Superman & Lois premieres on Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.