Superman on Television
An Interview with Michael RosenbaumIn Which Neal Meets the Baum, and A Great Many Things Are Learned...
[Date: April 2008]
By Neal Bailey
When I learned that I was going to meet Michael Rosenbaum, I about soiled my johnnies. I don't get that anxiousness with most people of repute... having traveled to so many cons, you realize that a person is just a person, even if they are very talented. A few people still awe me and make me shake in my boots, even when they become good friends. Greg Rucka. Noel Neill. Geoff Johns. Now, I learn, Rosenbaum.
I pulled it together and got my interview, but this was a scary one. I had my good buddy Will Vavra on technical, doing the mic work (which is why you have audio), and he kept me sane.
I wanted to focus on Rosenbaum's career after Smallville, because, seriously, what haven't we heard about his portrayal on this show, and we love to follow the actors who play the characters we love after they've moved on to bigger and better things. And of all the cast of Smallville, I think I want to follow Michael the most, given that he's probably my favorite actor on the show, and pretty much my favorite actor to play my favorite Superman character, which says a LOT. It takes a hell of a lot to get Lex right, and the man nailed it, year after year. In all of my reviews, I can't recall saying that he ever phoned it in.
We went into the green room, and there was GEORGE TAKEI. Mr. Sulu. He looked surprised, as if he were in a place he weren't supposed to be, or thought he was, and offered us sandwiches and hospitality... a really amazing guy despite the fact that we were eating into his lunch break. He stuck around for the interview, and allowed for some interesting synchronicity...
What followed was interesting, amazing, and fun.
Listen to the 8 and a half minute audio interview and/or read the transcription of the interview below.
Neal: All right, we're rolling... So! Thank you for the interview, we're...
Michael: This is Michael Rosenbaum, and I am sitting here as George Takei eats!
Michael: Just for your information... so imagine listening to me, but also feeling the presence of George Takei.
Neal: And... scene!
Neal: Okay! Well okay, first of all we wanted to focus on the stuff after Smallville, because we're interested in you as an actor as you're gonna be moving on...
Neal: ...so we wanted to ask what you had planned next after Smallville and what kind of roles you're looking for.
Michael: Well, first and foremost, Greg Beeman, who used to be executive producer and director of Smallville, he's now directing and producing Heroes, he and I sold a script about a year and a half ago to Fox, and now we're about to sell another one and go out to studios next week. So we've been writing a lot. We're supposed to do this film in July, although we haven't signed the papers yet, so we'll see. It's this little comedy, this little mockumentary.
Michael: And I also wrote a script like four years ago that we finally got money for, so it looks like we're gonna be, hopefully, knock on wood, making that film.
Neal: So is that gonna be kinda like under your production banner, or is gonna be with basically Greg running it, or...?
Michael: The one that we wrote, the one that Greg and I wrote, that, you know, it's funny, because when I write, I kind of think of me in the back of my head as playing the role, (looks to George Takei) you know what I'm talking about, George. (laughter) But Greg is not an actor, so he just thinks of writing and selling, making money for his family, which is understandable. So I go, "Hey, so what do you think about me-" and he goes, "Let's just sell the script first." (laughter) So we sell it, but you know, whenever you talk to producers or studios or whatever you always, as a writer, you probably get a shot in the room. You probably have a good chance of getting a supporting character. But right now we're just trying to sell the script. But, the other one that I wrote, four years ago, they want me to play the lead, so that's just exciting. We're actually trying to package that right now for the agency. So that's kind of cool. It's about a bully.
Neal: So like, would you be playing the bully?
Michael: What's funny is, the kid used to be a bully, so now everybody looks at him and goes, like, "You were a bully?" when they find out about his past... "You couldn't kick the crap out of your underpants! Look at you!" (laughter) So that's the kind of character. He's just like, he doesn't look like he could kick butt, but he can.
Will: So you're at the point now, where you-
Michael: I'm ready for a break to be honest with you!
Will: Well, participating in a project is-
Michael: Seven years, George! Seven years of Smallville! Shaving my head for seven years! It's a good run!
George: A hell of a good run!
Will: Promising to appear in the film adds credibility to it and the possibility of it going into production, like... you're at that point now.
Michael: Yeah, I mean, Smallville is definitely... I'm pretty grateful for Smallville. Because what's funny is, the irony of it is that I was always a comedian and then all of a sudden I shave my head and now I'm this intense weird guy, so a lot of my friends were like, laughing, they couldn't take me seriously, but now everybody thinks of me as a serious actor, and they always say that it's easier to go from being an actor, a serious actor, to a comedian. It's a lot easier than going from a comedian, like if you're known as a comedian, like Jim Carrey, and taking it seriously. I'm hoping that works for me. I guess it's a blessing in disguise, the shaving of the head, because now, I grow it back and people are like, "Who are you?" I don't get to come to these conventions any more. (laughter) I gotta rack it up now, George, gotta take the money!
Neal: Are you gonna be doing any more stage stuff, are you going to be focusing on that at all?
Michael: No, I love it, you know, that's where I came from, and working with John Glover, and him doing off-Broadway and Broadway on our months off, I was always envious of that and I said, you know, when I can do that again? I'd love to get involved in theater again, because every time I go back to college my professors are always like, "So when are you going to do theater?" They don't care that I'm on a TV show, they don't care that I've got movies, they just want me to go back to the theater. So I kind of owe it to them and my grandmother, I promised them, but I'm telling you one day, that's kind of far.
Neal: Right on. Well, I was going to ask, I got the personal projects, oh, voice acting! Yeah, I was going to ask you how you approach voice acting and if you're going to be doing voice acting stuff in the future because most of the people on the Superman Homepage, they love your portrayal of the Flash, and-
Michael: Yeah, the Flash was, that was a treat. Bruce Timm is actually here, he gave me my gig on, as the Flash for like, six years. So as I'm, I'd never really been into comic books or anything, so the same time I'm doing Smallville I also land the Flash, so I'm playing the villain, and the goofy good guy at the same time, and what I like about that is you go into a room with a beard, a little hung over or whatever, and it's your voice, and you don't have to, it's anonymity, and at the same time but, it's fun, you're just reading with other actors, there's no pressure. It's just you having a good time and doing a couple of takes your own way and... so I really love that, doing something a little different. It's almost like a break, you have a little coffee, you just, you're making money doing it, and there's surprisingly a lot of fans out there. "There's the Flash, man!"
Unknown (Takei or his companion): They really can tell?
Michael: Yeah! And I did a movie called Racing Stripes which, like, I played a horse with Dustin Hoffman.
Will: The Zebra one!
Michael: Yeah! And it's just like, it's easy, and it's fun. I do a lot of video games like this one that just came out called Dark Sector.
Neal: Oh really?
Michael: I'm a lead voice in that. I haven't played it yet. Have you played it?
Neal: No, not yet.
Will: I did.
Michael: Is it good?
Will: It's awesome!
Michael: He just says that because I'm right here!
Will: It's... there's Grand Theft Auto in a couple of days anyway... the world's ending in a couple of days.
Neal: We got time for one more?
Michael: Yeah, go ahead! Sure! These guys are cool!
Neal: This is basically the only Smallville question I had, because I didn't want to bog you down with Smallville stuff.
Michael: Well, just so you know, you know, I just had the wrap party last night around three, and it was my last episode on Friday.
Will: You had the wrap party in Vancouver?
Michael: Yeah, it was in Vancouver, so I flew here this morning.
Will: Where'd you guys have that? You guys kicked one of my school functions out of a bar one night-
Michael: I didn't do that-
Will: No, no! It was just like, the Smallville guys or whatever, that was our little claim to fame.
Michael: Wasn't me, maybe it was Smallville productions. But it was hard, it was like hard to say goodbye. I feel like Boyz 2 Men now... but it was tough. Were you choked up when Star Trek ended? Did you cry?
George: I didn't cry, but..
Michael: Aw, now you're making me feel-
Michael: Were there parties?
George: Oh yeah. But we were very proud of what we did, you know, so there was that sense of... we announced that we were on a five year mission, and there was only three years, (laughter), so there were so many more stories that we wanted to tell, there was that sense of incompletion.
Michael: For me it's the opposite! (much laughter) I kinda feel like wow, we were supposed to leave at five years, and at seven, we're still going!
George: Well, that's a great blessing.
Michael: It is, it's a great blessing, and for me it was. I said goodbye to the crew, gave them all hugs, we were really close. I wasn't choked up, and I was like, well, okay, I'm not gonna get... so I went into the makeup trailer, and the last time she cleaned my head, because usually it's like an hour and a half process, putting makeup on, and at the end of the night she takes it off, because you're not supposed to see a hairline for Lex Luthor. So she takes it off, and she gives me a hug and she's... my makeup artist, her name is Natalie, she says, "I love you!" and she starts crying. So I was okay, and then I walk out the door and I turn around and I look at her and I know this is my last time walking, and I just lost it like a little puppy looking for its mama, I mean, I just started crying, I was like, oh my god, I'm crying, Lex doesn't cry! (laughter) And then I think, wait a minute, I'm not Lex! (laughter), this is why I'm not him, this is what Michael does!
George: A human being!
Michael: I am a human being.
George: And an actor!
Michael: And an actor! Well, at least I play one on TV. No, but I mean, it was a great run, and I'll miss them all, and the producers they always think, "Well, he'll do a couple" and I go, "No!" You realize, if I do a couple, it means I shave my head and I won't have hair for three more months, so if I do a couple, I might as well do them all.
Neal: Well there it is, that's the last, so basically you're not going to come back and do, like, a final harrah or anything like that?
Michael: Nah, this was it. This was it. It was a good, good ending.
Neal: Yeah, it was a good run, too.
Michael: Yeah, the final episode, the final shot, which I shouldn't tell you, but it doesn't matter, but it's just a crane shot, starting on my face, and just kind of went all the way up as I watched it go away. I'll just let you watch and see what happens.
Will: When does that air, what's the exact date?
Michael: I don't know, a couple of weeks, obviously. May.
(At this point, Michael had to go and do his panel, so we said our goodbyes.)
The Superman Homepage wishes to extend thanks to Michael for spending time out of his busy schedule to check in with us, and we'll be following his exploits as he leaves Smallville. All the best, Michael, from your fans here at the Superman Homepage.
This interview is Copyright © 2008 Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the Superman Homepage.