Superman on Television


Interview with "Smallville" Executive Producer Alfred Gough

On Thursday Decemeber 6th Warner Bros. held a press junket with various fan sites, enabling them to interview "Smallville" Executive Producer Al Gough. The Superman Homepage was one of these sites and what follows is a transcription from my telephone conversation/interview with Mr Gough:

Steve Younis: Firstly, I'd like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk to you and I'd like to also congratulate you on the success of Smallville.

Al Gough: Oh, thank you very much!

SY: While it hasn't aired here in Australia yet I've been lucky enough to view most of the episodes on video thanks to a friend in the U.S.

AG: Oh good. Do you know when it's going to air down there?

SY: No, not yet. Warner Bros. have yet to schedule an Australian premiere. I guess I'll just have to hang out for it.

AG: [Laughs]

SY: Okay, I guess we'll move on to the questions...

AG: Sure.

SY: Other than the flood of emails I receive about how much fans love Smallville. I also get quite a few fans telling me that the biggest deterent to the show is the fact that you continue to have Kryptonite affect someone in each episode and that this is getting old fast. That it has quickly become too much of a formula. How do you react to these comments?

AG: You know what? I think that's a very valid comment. And it's something that we are aware of. It's one of the things when you start a show, especially in its first round, you want to make sure the people coming to it get the idea. You know the idea of its core content is that Kryptonite in Smallville does crazy things to people. I understand that people watching the show religiously might get tired of it. However the latter part of the season will concentrate on more "true crime" type of stories that actually don't involve Kryptonite. And also different uses for Kryptonite.

SY: How many kids in Smallville can get transformed and/or killed before someone higher up (in the government or the press) starts to notice a trend?

AG: I think it's still early days, but eventually it will attract attention. And also some of these "villains" that we've seen, we could bring them back aswell, which could be interesting. I think it's still early days and there are other explanations for things that have happened. Again it's a small town where things have been happening for 12 years... a certain level of, you know, wierdness... the wierdness is their reality... they sort of expect it. I don't know if you come from a small town or not, but those kinds of things aren't really talked about [Laughs].

Clark floating SY: Will you focus more on exploring Clark's powers? We've seen the super-speed and invulnerability, but it was nice to see him "accidentally" float above his bed and discover his x-ray vision. Will you do more of that? Will he "develop" his powers more?

AG: Yeah, in terms of delving out these things slowly, but that's something we will be doing. Sharpening his use of x-ray vision... and down the line you have the other powers we haven't tapped yet, like heat-vision and everything else. And you may see him floating again... but you want to deal those things out one at a time.

SY: In the pilot episode, Jonathan Kent gave Clark a piece of metal with Kryptonian writing on it. Will that be explored soon, or will we at least see Clark searching for answers of where he came from?

AG: That is really something we're going to be getting into more in the next season. There'll be little hints of that in the rest of this season, but it's something we get a little more into later on.

SY: Do you have any story arcs planned? There are the continuing subplots, but will there be any multi-part episodes?

AG: We have coming up an episode arc where Lex has an old girlfriend from his past come back. She tries to convince him to turn against his father (her father is like the recycling king of England, who has been a business adversary of Lionel Luthor's for a long time). It's an arc in that that story will play out over about four episodes.

SY: Will Clark start showing any interest in journalism?

AG: Not at the moment. What you're going to see is Clark being not very good at journalism [Laughs].

SY: We've repeatedly heard the statement "No Tights. No Flights". However will we ever see Clark in something that resembles a Superman costume?

AG: Ah, no.

SY: Other than Lex Luthor, will any of Superman's comic book villains appear? Like Mr Mxyzptlk or Brainiac?

AG: No, nothing like those two. Again if there are interesting villains that we can re-interpret through our prism we will do that... but nobody in a costume will show up in Smallville.

SY: Rumor has it that you're considering a story with a young Bruce Wayne visiting Smallville (possibly using a young entrepreneur theme to get some conflict with Lex)? Is this true?

AG: That is a dream. And quite frankly at this point that's all it is. It's something we'd love to do... highly doubtful that it will happen this season. But as you're no doubt aware, there are issues of dealing with different DC properties... a lot of that has to do with licensing and business. But they've been very supportive helping with character support and dealing with the Superman universe. But that one is something that, if the show continues to perform, and you know DC have been very happy with it, that's something we could approach them about trying to do next season.

SY: There have been conflicting stories regarding an appearance by Lois Lane. Will she make an appearance in Smallville? And is she indeed related to Chloe Sullivan?

AG: Yes, that is a rumor at this point which may or may not be true [laughs]. But we do want to explore some of those other characters. But yeah, they will pop up, I'm not saying when, but you will see Lois Lane and Perry White and these sort of people pop up in the series.

SY: Will they come to Smallville or will Clark meet them in Metropolis?

AG: A little of both. That I'm not sure about... but it could be either way. In our sort of universe we're playing it that Metropolis is about 3 hours from Smallville.

SY: Any plans for cameos by the DC Comics staff?

AG: If they could pull themselves away from Manhattan and get to Vancouver... perhaps!

SY: Will we see an appearance by any other DC Comics heroes?

AG: Again, that's something we're certainly open to, but there's the whole licensing thing we have to go through. It can get too complicated.

Sam Jones III (Pete Ross) SY: Were there any significant discussions about changes to the traditional supporting cast such as Lana Lang & Pete Ross?

AG: I assume you're talking about their ethnicity... No, not really. DC were actually really happy about that. Because I mean, quite frankly in both cases we cast the best actor. We didn't go out specifically looking for an African-American or "Eurasian" look. We were happy the way it turned out... It gives things a new dimension... you know it makes the show more modern. The world is not just a bunch of white people. Obviously we weren't trying to just get minority groups in the show for the sake of political correctness, but you do want to represent reality.

SY: What previous incarnation of Superman has been the greatest inspirations for the show?

AG: You know I'd have to say it'd be the Richard Donner film "Superman: The Movie". For us in terms of tone... and reading interviews with Dick, we noticed he talked about the reality of the character. And you know with the film you don't see the Superman suit for something like an hour. And I think by that point you've really invested in him as a person... and I think for us, in terms of that idea of what is the reality of Superman and how do you make him relatable to people. Where I think with Batman he's very relatable, because you understand his motivations, whether or not you condone them [Laughs]. His parents were killed in front of him so he's basically out for revenge. And I think Superman... why he does what he does... has no relatable idea... he's just good because he's good. And "Smallville" explores the formation of this personality. Through his relationships... with his parents, working out why he is who he is. And also through Lana and Lex aswell.

Note: At this point in time the Warner Bros. spokesperson broke in to let me know I had time for one last question...

Lana, Clark and Lex SY: How many actors auditioned for the three major youth parts (Clark, Lana, Lex)?

AG: You know what, honestly, there were hundreds! I mean hundreds! We had casting directors all over the country, we searched through all of north America and Canada for all three parts. I mean we saw hundreds of actors. Lana we cast first. Then Clark... and then Lex. Lex was the last person we cast.

SY: Thanks again for allowing me to interview you, and I wish you continued success with Smallville.

AG: Thank you! And best of luck with your site.