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Calling all Smallville fans! Cast members Tom Welling (Clark Kent), Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang) and Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luther) celebrate the show's 20th anniversary by sharing memories from behind-the-scenes.
- So what are you, man or Superman?
- I haven't figured it out yet.
ETHAN ALTER: Hey superheroes. Welcome to Yahoo Entertainment's 20th anniversary "Smallville" reunion. We're talking with the three stars of the beloved WB series. We've got Tom "no flights, no tights" Welling, Kristin "my parents are dead, Clark" Kreuk, and we've got Michael "Sexy Clexy" Rosenbaum.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Sex-- Did you say--
ETHAN ALTER: Hey guys.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Did you say sexy Lexy or did you say sexy Clexy?
ETHAN ALTER: Sexy Clexy.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Just checking in with you.
ETHAN ALTER: Right, right, you know where we're going eventually. It's been 20 years since "Smallville" debuted. There's a big box set coming out in October. Tom, let's start with you you're the only actor in sort of Superman history who's played only Clark Kent and not Superman. Are you proud of that? Do you wish you had gotten a chance to wear the tights?
TOM WELLING: Yes, I'm very proud. And no, I'm glad we didn't continue. Because the show was about Clark Kent. And as he transitioned to be Superman, the idea was that we wanted to know he was out there, but we couldn't go with him. I'm very proud of what we did and I'm really happy that we didn't go that extra mile.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Well, it's called Smallville. If you involve Superman, then it just takes you out of Smallville, because then you get into Metropolis and you get into the other things--
TOM WELLING: That's literally the leap, yeah.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: And that's the leap. And it's like this whole story was the story before the story. It's Clark becoming Superman. And that's at the end. And it's Lex becoming evil and all these other characters developing.
ETHAN ALTER: Well, I've rewatched the pilot the other night. And it was fun. It was fun to take that nostalgic trip back to 2001. So I just want to mention a few key scenes for each of you. Michael, starting with you, the scene where you got Clark into the water and you're both underwater, that's actually you both in the car. Where did you shoot that scene? How did that scene come together?
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: We shot that in a big tank, huge tank in Vancouver. And I got to tell you, that was a terrifying moment for me. Because we had to get our scuba certification. But even with scuba certification, they put me in a tank 12 feet down in a car with weights on me. And they would bring over my air. And I'd give them a thumbs up. And I get goosebumps. You should see them, even thinking about it now.
TOM WELLING: [SCOFF]
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Then they'd leave. And they'd go, OK, we're about to roll. And I was just so claustrophobic. I'd go, I can't, I can't do this, I can't. And I'd swim up to the surface. And that happened like three or four times.
You know, Tom was there to calm me. And I was just, they're going to fire me. I can't do this tank scene. It's my first show. I'm blowing it. And it was a lot of pressure on me. But we got it. But it was a lot. It was a difficult thing to overcome, that fear. But that was a special moment. When I saw the pilot and I saw what they had put together, I was just like I'm, wow, I'm part of something that's very special for the first time. I felt very fortunate.
ETHAN ALTER: It's worth endangering your life for it. You were like, all right.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: I must be in good hands.
ETHAN ALTER: Kristin, for you, the graveyard scene, it adds a lot of depth to Lana's character. What do you remember about shooting that scene? It's a major moment for you and Clark, especially.
KRISTIN KREUK: That was the scene that I auditioned with. So I'd played that scene so many times by myself, with Tom. Because he tested with that scene also. I remember being cold and shivering. And it was like just chilly out that night. And I remember the smoke machines. And it was the first time I'd experienced that. And now the smell of smoke machines just reminds me of work. This very small element, it brings me right back. I really loved that scene and I always did. I thought it was sweet and earnest and emotional. And I think it set the tone for the two characters.
ETHAN ALTER: Absolutely. Yeah, well, one thing that I think is so funny, I mean, Lana's personality, she talks to her parents in the graveyard. She wears the sort of memento of them around her neck. I feel like--
KRISTIN KREUK: Should've been a goth.
ETHAN ALTER: Yeah--
KRISTIN KREUK: She really just--
ETHAN ALTER: --that was exactly where I was going to go. I was like, she should have been Fairuza Balk in "The Craft" almost, like--
KRISTIN KREUK: Totally, that would have been a direction, not the cheerleader, the goth.
ETHAN ALTER: And Tom, for you, it's the most iconic scene in the pilot where the scarecrow and you're crucified up there with an "S" on your chest.
TOM WELLING: Oh yeah.
ETHAN ALTER: I'm sure you've relived this 100 times, but what was that night like having to be up there for that long?
TOM WELLING: I can tell you the number one thing that comes to my mind is this dude right here. So I'm up there on the thing. I have two heaters that are like this. He comes in to talk to me about the scene. And he stands in front of the heater. Well, the second he stands in front of that heater, the whole left side of my body goes frigid because it's literally Vancouver in the middle of the night at 3:00 AM.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: I don't remember that.
TOM WELLING: It's freezing. And I'm like, can you move? And he goes, what do you mean, and keeps on talking about the scene? I'm like, get the [BLEEP] out of the way. Like move over there. He goes, oh, sorry. And then he'd get in front of the other heater and [INAUDIBLE]. Because I'm just like, dude.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: It was always so cold. I mean, I remember in the scene with Kristin.
TOM WELLING: It's always wet cold.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: In Kristin's scene--
KRISTIN KREUK: Wet cold.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: --you could see the horse's breath. You know it's freaking cold. I don't know how they got her to do it.
TOM WELLING: And these guys sometimes would be like, can you put ice cubes in your mouth to cool off your mouth so that when you talk, you don't see it?
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Like no.
TOM WELLING: No.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: I'm freezing.
TOM WELLING: I'm cold.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: I don't want ice cubes in my mouth.
TOM WELLING: No.
ETHAN ALTER: And Kristin, I mean, in the case of Lana specifically, she started off very much being defined by the relationships with the men in her life. And that was it for a while. But then that changed. Like she really did grow and evolve and get her own stories as it went along. Was that because you went to the producers and said, hey, I'm not interested in what I'm doing here?
KRISTIN KREUK: I wish that I had had the confidence at that point in my life to articulate what I wanted or what I thought would be best. But I think they came to that kind of realization on their own as time went by honestly. There's only so much you can do with the character if her only role is to facilitate stories with the other male characters on the show. It's just finite if you can't find something that motivates and drives that person on their own I think it all crumbles, for that character anyway. And as I became more comfortable as an actor, I think there was more room to play as well.
ETHAN ALTER: It's interesting. I mean, "Smallville" was the defining Superman for so much of the early 2000s. And you were on and popular at a time when Warner Brothers was trying to figure out how to do a big screen version again, eventually got "Superman Returns." Was there any point, Tom, where they said, hey, we want to put you in a movie, we want we want to have you be Superman going forward?
TOM WELLING: It's such a tricky question to answer. The answer is yes and no. They were never going to stop "Smallville" for me to go do a movie. So there may have been some conversations, but it was never going to be that. I mean, it's like, yes, I met with some people, but they were never like, do you want to do it? It was just like, let's talk about this.
I know the numbers of what "Smallville" cost versus what the movie cost and the fact that to shut down "Smallville" for two years for me to go do a "Superman" movie, it was never going to happen.
ETHAN ALTER: Michael, you've talked about your reasons for leaving the show after season seven. You've been pretty honest about it in various places. Sort of looking back on it now, I mean, do you feel you made the right call? Or did you want to-- was there a world where you wanted to stay on or would have stayed on?
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Yeah, 100%, you know, people think I quit the show. And that's not true at all.
TOM WELLING: You didn't?
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: No, Tom. No, but my contract was for six years. I ended up doing the seventh season. And I just felt like everything that needed to be told could have been told in seven years. And I felt like I had a lot more exploring to do. I had shaved my head for 10 months every year.
It was a tough character to play too. Just psychological, I think, at times, it was very demanding. And I just felt like, you know, I've done this. I played this character long enough. And I gave them fair warning. I go, hey, this is it. So, you know, when I'm going under the rubble, I hope you guys have a plan. And, you know, so I just felt like it was the right call.
And I had no regrets at all. It was never-- no regrets. I ended up going to direct a movie I love the show. And I came back to the series finale. And it was great to be back, you know, working with Tom and the rest of the crew and cast. And they were like family to me.
I mean, you're working with these people 10 months a year. You know them more than your own family. It's something I, you know, I was like, wow, you did this for 160 something episodes. This is enough. And you have to sometimes ask yourself, when is enough? And to me, I felt like it was.
ETHAN ALTER: Kristin, I'll give you the last word. How do you think, what do you think about "Smallville" if it were made again today?
KRISTIN KREUK: Gosh, it's really hard to answer. I do think there's a purity and an innocence to "Smallville" that just doesn't exist anymore. Young people today don't live like that.
TOM WELLING: Yeah.
KRISTIN KREUK: I think that in a world without social media, in a world without constant connection to what is going on, I don't-- you can't make that show. The characters would never exist in the isolation they exist in. And that's sort of what defined the show to me.
TOM WELLING: If the characters of "Smallville" had the internet.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Oh my gosh.
TOM WELLING: They'd be like googling, where are you right now?
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: Yeah, I mean, we'd got down to the bottom of things.
TOM WELLING: Real quick.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: You know, Clark, it said you were at the water tower at 10:01, but then in 10 seconds, you were here on your cell phone. I watch "Forensic Files." I know these things. It'd be a lot tougher to get away with a lot of the stuff.