It’s been nearly 20 years since Smallville premiered on The WB, and nearly 10 since it ended its 10-season, 217-episode run on The CW. Since then, live-action comic book adaptations have taken on a whole new life of their own, on both the small and big screens. But Smallville’s impact as the first of its kind — following a young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) on his path to becoming Superman and Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) on his path to becoming Superman’s greatest foe — hasn’t been forgotten.
This year’s New York Comic-Con panel, moderated by Star Trek: Voyager’s Garrett Wang, brought together a few cast members for a virtual reunion panel, celebrating Smallville’s “20 Years of Fandom, Friendship, & Flying.” Joining Welling and Rosenbaum to take a stroll down memory lane were Laura Vandervoort, who played Kara Zor-El (aka Supergirl) in Smallville’s seventh season, and Sam Witwer, who played Davis Bloome in its eighth.
Early in the panel, as the cast shared their stories of where they were when they learned they booked Smallville, Rosenbaum told a story he’d never told before: After having a horrible dream about his grandmother passing away, he called her and told her about the role, as well as about the fact that he was on his way to an audition. As Rosenbaum tells the story, his grandmother assured him, “You’re gonna get this one,” something she’d never said to him before. A week later, his grandmother passed away, and after he left the funeral, he’d received a message from his agent that he’d booked Smallville. “So it was emotional,” explained Rosenbaum, “but I remember she said that, so it was kinda bittersweet.”
The tone of the virtual panel remained relatively light after that, though the reuniting cast members were able to talk about regrets they had about their characters and the issues they faced on set with a bit more levity than they perhaps would’ve at the time. Rosenbaum’s experience was the most different, as he left the show after its seventh season, returning for the series finale. Noting his ADD, Rosenbaum explained that by the seventh season — “or even before that” — he was simply ready to “explode.” Citing the difficulty of keeping 22 episodes of television consistent, Rosenbaum admitted he thought there were “glimpses of greatness” on the show, but they were also peppered in with episodes that were just okay, as well as episodes you’d just want to get rid of altogether.
Witwer noted, “I know that I’ve gone on record saying that I didn’t necessarily agree with how it ended, with me.” After a season of turmoil for Witwer’s Bloome over his evil, murderous half, he found himself finally separated from Doomsday in the Season 8 finale, only to be revealed as just as murderous, then untimely meeting his demise. “But I don’t remember the storyline well enough to know if I’d back that up or if I’ve changed my mind over the years. I just know that I was upset and I’m still upset that I killed my buddy Aaron Ashmore [who played Jimmy Olsen], because Aaron’s such a great guy.”
For Vandervoort, while she made appearances after her time as a series regular in season 7, she wished Kara was in more of the series finale. “She didn’t really have closure,” said Vandervoort. “She just sort of flew off and we never saw her again. It would’ve been nice for myself personally, and I think for the character, to have goodbyes. I didn’t have any proper goodbyes.” Garrett joked about Vandervoort also wanting “more clothing” for the character — as the lack of cover-up for Smallville’s Supergirl was a clear sign of the times — to which Vandervoort wholeheartedly agreed. “Yes, I did ask them to burn the wardrobe when I was done with the show,” she joked. “I would’ve personally liked to have done it, but that’s fine.”
However, as repetitive as it may have gotten for viewers of the show at the time, Welling revealed just how great his standard Clark Kent wardrobe was for him. ”I loved it because, so often it was blue shirt, red jacket or the reverse, and every once in a while, they’d throw in a plaid shirt. And it made it very simple for stunt guys, and made it [simple] for me. And it was just like, ‘Cool. We don’t have to worry about wardrobe.’ So, in that way, I really liked it. [And] it wasn’t skin tight, it wasn’t any version of a leotard, so that was also helpful.”
Rosenbaum also revealed Welling’s other wardrobe secret. Because the Smallville soundstages were so hot — as Witwer noted, they “were not meant to be sound stages” — for scenes where Welling would be shooting close-up, he’d wear shorts and sandals. Welling explained that “most likely” if you didn’t see Clark from the waist down, then he had shorts and sandals on. Which, honestly, sounds like a fun new game for the Smallville fandom to play: In which scenes is Welling wearing beach wear?
“That’s one of my first memories of Tom,” added Vandervoort. “One of the first scenes I did with him in the loft. We got into his close-ups, and yeah, no pants. Just Birkenstocks and socks, and obviously shorts or whatever. It took the facade away from me a little bit.”