by Jarett Wieselman (Sep 18, 2008 – Pop Wrap)
After seven seasons of small-town struggles, “Smallville” is getting bigger, bolder and better than ever for its impressive eighth season. This year fans will finally see Clark Kent embrace his destiny as Superman, though whether those tights come into play is still up in the air.
Spandex aside, the main reason I’m stoked for this season is because Erica Durance is finally getting some long overdue screen time! In previous years Lois Lane has unceremoniously been pushed aside for other less intriguing and important characters, but as our man becomes super, Erica also gets to reign supreme!
Pop Wrap: I am so excited “Smallville” seems to be trading teen angst for real life and death drama this year.
Erica Durance: I think people have really been hungry for the show to evolve into this. When Clark was younger, sure, it made sense to be kinda angsty, but this year is a lot edgier. Plus, for myself, it feels like Lois has always been on the periphery of things – she’ll come in and just add a beat of comic relief – but now I feel like she’s hitting her stride too being a journalist at The Daily Planet.
PW: In the first episode back, Clark gets a job at the paper as well – will that up the sexual tension?
Erica: Well, their desks face each other now and the fun is that she’s an investigative journalist who’s always in “find the best story” mode and yet I’m looking right at him and having no idea.
PW: Do you think Lois knows the truth deep down somewhere?
Erica: Sometimes I wonder if she’s just letting him have this side that he clearly doesn’t want to talk about. I mean, she sees him as this boy she’s mentoring and he just keeps disappearing in the middle of all the action.
PW: So does that mean he’s going to have trouble keeping his powers a secret?
Erica: Oh yea. We just filmed a crucial episode where Jimmy Olsen gets very, very close to the truth and almost cracks it because he catches Clark in a saving moment. So Jimmy is really getting somewhere but Clark is able to evade him. But at the end of the episode we see Lois throw down the gauntlet – she promises not to stop digging until she gets the first worldwide exclusive with this red and blue guy.
PW: So we are getting a more determined Lois in season eight.
Erica: Definitely. She’s so much more mature and settled in who she is this year. She still had those sassy moments, but she’s determined to do it on her own and I love that she looks to herself first instead of asking, “Where’s my manly man to save me.”
PW: But having said that, she keeps falling for superheroes! Oliver Queen a.k.a the Green Arrow returns to Smallville. How long is it until those two ex-lovers are reunited?
Erica: We have a run-in during the third episode, so quite quickly. It’s a really heavy episode that gives the audience a visual into Oliver’s past and explains how he became the Green Arrow. It’s also interesting because Lois is put in a position where she has to face the fact that he may die on her. I love the idea that you may have loved someone in the past and realized the relationship isn’t good for you, but all these unresolved feelings will still come up. So that’s a pretty intense episode.
PW: You’ve shot seven episodes this season, which is your favorite so far?
Erica: I go undercover with Clark as an engaged couple and I get to really make him squirm – and it’s hilarious. But also in that same episode Lois has to confront how she feels about him and then you watch her squirm. She has to admit it out loud, albeit under duress, but it’s something she wasn’t even sure she felt until that very moment she had to say it.
PW: Tom Welling seems like one of the nicest guys on TV – true?
Erica: He’s very grounded and lovely. So many shows can fall apart because of animosity on-set and you’re always looking to your lead for behavioral cues and he’s such a professional. Absolutely no ego, which means the set is also egoless.
PW: It’s amazing that such a gorgeous person can be so unaware of their looks.
Erica: I know, we were laughing when we screened the first episode because it’s the first time you see Clark looking so edgy and scruffy. I think people have been waiting for clean as a whistle Clark to look rough and ready so when they tune in tonight it will be like, “Ooooh my goodness!” This is a serious step up. We love to tease him because we all saw it at the same time and it was like a chorus of “holy smokes, Tom!” And all he could say was, “shut up.”
If you want to see what Erica is talking about, “Smallville” premieres tonight at 8 pm on The CW.