“AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics” is the new documentary series spearheaded by Robert Kirkman (creator of “The Walking Dead” comic) that began airing this week on AMC. It mixes interviews and fully-scripted, dramatic re-creations to look at key moments in the history of comics.
The upcoming November 20th episode, “The Trials of Superman”, traces the journey of the legal perils faced by Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. It stars Canadian actors Blaine Anderson and Brendan Taylor as Shuster and Siegel.
The Superman Homepage conducted the following exclusive interview with the actors…
Q: Before coming into this project, were either of your aware of who Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were?
Blaine Anderson: Being Canadian, most of us grew up with these commercials called Heritage Minutes. One of them was a small piece on Joe Shuster and the early creation of Superman. Of course, it was my favourite Heritage Minute!
Brendan Taylor: I loved that Heritage Minute as well! I collected comics, trading cards, and posters as a kid, so I came across their names often.
Q: How much did you know about Siegel and Shuster’s life story and the trials they faced as Superman’s co-creators?
Blaine Anderson: Prior to this shoot, I knew very little of how much Joe and Jerry endured and not getting the credit they deserved. It’s definitely a story that many people won’t know about.
Brendan Taylor: I knew the general story of Jerry and Joe, but after getting this role, I was so excited to learn more details about their struggle and how their story took place over so many years.
Blaine Anderson: I originally auditioned for Shuster and a couple of other characters. In truth, they never saw me read Joe until they booked us. I think it worked out perfectly.
Brendan Taylor: It was a similar story for me. I auditioned 5 times for AMC Visionaries, including Jerry and other characters, so I figured I was doing something right! When I found out Blaine was playing Joe, I was so pumped. Jerry and Joe have a great relationship, and Blaine is a longtime friend, so it was all meant to be.
Q: Did you have to do any background reading or research before taking on these roles?
Blaine Anderson: We did as much as we could prior to filming – about one and a half weeks of prep. It was a fast turnaround and there are very few videos of the two of them speaking. Most of them are when Joe and Jerry are in their 60’s and 70’s. Our co-star Emma Middleton (who played Joanne Siegel, the artistic muse for Lois Lane) brought a book to our rehearsals and would tell us anecdotes about the life of Joe, Jerry and Joanne.
Brendan Taylor: Yeah, there’s so much info out there once you look for it, but not a lot of time to take it all in. The old videos and online articles really helped, and sharing stories between Blaine and Emma was very helpful. It was a collective effort to inform ourselves as much as possible.
Q: Do you consider yourself Superman fans? Do you read the comics or watch any of the current TV shows or movies?
Blaine Anderson: Big comic book fan! I remember, I was 14 and the ‘Death of Superman’ came out. I was so angry! Nowadays with my two kids, I’m having a big resurgence back into the comic world – and I’m loving every minute of it!
Brendan Taylor: Superman – among others – was definitely on my bedroom walls, which at one point was covered floor to ceiling with superheroes! I have the ‘Death of Superman’ issue in my dad’s attic in my collection! That was such a big deal back then! I grew up loving the Christopher Reeve films, and I’m really into the new Superman films, too. Having such strong rebirths of the character is a testament to his place in the world of comics and pop culture.
Q: What do you think fans will like most about “The Trials of Superman”? What are you most proud of about the episode?
Blaine Anderson: The fans, I believe, will really feel the struggle that Joe and Jerry went through. Brendan and I are friends in real life, which helped our chemistry onset. And I think we showed a glimpse of their friendship and their passion for Superman!
Brendan Taylor: Yeah, I really think the episode captures their lifelong friendship and how much they needed each other. One would be so lucky to find that kind of companionship in life. I think our natural chemistry portrays that. To see how their personal fight for truth and justice lines up with that which Superman himself fights for is also so fascinating.
Blaine Anderson: We have not, but I hope we portrayed the spirit of their passion and integrity in ways that would make their families proud of the story.
Brendan Taylor: Blaine and I are very dedicated to what we do and we were very humbled by such a tall order. We were committed to giving our all. As with any actor tasked with embodying a real character, we just hope we’ve honored their story with as much respect as possible.
Q: Was there anything you found difficult about portraying these roles?
Blaine Anderson: Well one thing that was tricky for me was drawing – or rather, pretending to draw – without my real glasses. It worked well, though. Apparently, Joe Shuster was just as blind as me!
Brendan Taylor: I think when playing any real character, there’s often so much info out there, it can be difficult to bring it all together. I think we were well cast for Jerry and Joe in terms of our natural demeanors matching the real people, from the material we came across. The rest of our job was really getting into the story and relating to it.
Q: When will this episode air?
Blaine Anderson: November 20th, 2017 on AMC at 10PM ET/PT. Check your local listings elsewhere and follow us on social media before the episode as we’ll be sharing more stuff in advance of it airing. I’m @BlaineActor on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and also at BlaineActor.com.