The CW series Superman & Lois catches up with Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) at a time when they’re struggling to figure out how to be working parents in high-stress and high-pressure situations, as well as provide what each of their very different twin sons, Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin), need. Being the world’s most famous superhero and fighting off supervillains and monsters as Superman is the easy part, but raising two teenage boys, either of whom could inherit their father’s Kryptonian powers, is another thing entirely.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, Bitsie Tulloch talked about what sets this Superman story apart from previous ones, finding out that they’d be getting their own spin-off series, what she most responded to about the pitch, the role of Smallville in this story, digging deeper into the family dynamic, and why she doesn’t want to know more than her character would know.
Collider: This is not an origin story, but it’s actually a starting over story, which feels very different from what we’re used to with a superhero story. Do you feel like that really sets the show apart, not only from the other superhero shows on The CW, but also just from other tellings of the Superman story?
BITSIE TULLOCH: To be honest with you, I haven’t seen any of the Superman movies or TV shows, except for the [Richard] Donner films with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, so I wouldn’t know. But I’ve been told enough times now that I know this is the first time you’re seeing Lois and Clark as parents, at least on screen and, and not just parents, but parents of two kids. I know in the comics it’s just the one, Jonathan Kent, and not a young kid, like how we have teenagers. That certainly sets the story apart, as a whole. Superman and Lois are married and they’re raising two teenage twin boys. I can’t even imagine. I have a two-year-old and she’s a handful, so I don’t even know what she’s gonna be like in 10 or 11 years.
How and when did you find out that this show was actually going to happen and how long did you have to hold the secret?
TULLOCH: It was vaguely alluded to when I was first cast, by somebody, and I won’t say who, that was implying that, if the fans really respond to Tyler and I, they wouldn’t be surprised if they considered doing this as a stand-alone series. At that point, there was no mention of them being parents of teenagers. It was just, “Either we’re never gonna see you guys again, or this could turn into something bigger.” And then, I didn’t hear anything for a few months, so I just thought, “It was really fun and playing Lois lane, but onward and upward.” And then, a few months later, we had very privately gotten word that they were in the initial phases of developing it as a series, and that they would have teenagers. We had to basically keep it a secret for at least eight or nine months, before it was officially announced. When it was announced, Tyler and I were actually shooting our second round of the cross-overs. We were shooting “Crisis” when it was announced that they were doing the spin-off.
You came off of a show that you were on for a number of years, with Grimm. Were you hesitant at all about signing on again for a show that you could be on for a while, or do you love getting to dig so deep into a character that you could be doing so for a number of years?
TULLOCH: I was hesitant, in the sense that when we do sign onto something like this, you are signing up to do it for a number of years. I also, when I booked this role, was pregnant, so my life was about to change drastically, no matter what. It was like, “Oh, I have to make this decision now. Factoring in the fact that I’m gonna have a baby and that I have a husband who’s [an actor]. Luckily, David [Giuntoli] is on A Million Little Things in Vancouver, as well. We got very lucky, in regards to both shooting in the same city and being able to keep our family together, but there was a heavy discussion about, “What if the show shoots in another city and you’re shooting A Million Little Things in Vancouver? How do we do that?”
Tyler and I both were convinced by the way that Todd Helbing pitched the show. We didn’t wanna do huge set pieces and flying around for six years. What really signed us up for it was the family drama aspect of it. He pitched it as Friday Night Lights, with elements of Superman and elements of Lois Lane. Yes, you’ll see set pieces and Easter eggs and everything like that, but this is really a show about the relationship with this foursome, moving back to the small town. That was intriguing for us. And Tyler and I had a little bit of practice shooting together, during “Elseworlds” and “Crisis,” and we get along really well. We love working together and we adore each other, so part of what sold it for us was getting to work with the other one. We shoot a lot and we shoot a lot together, so the fact that we get along as well as we do, can’t be overestimated. It really made us want to sign up for something that could potentially go for a long time.
What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve had to learn, in order to play this version of Lois?
TULLOCH: It almost feels like Smallville is another character on the show. We’re seeing the version of Smallville that’s a ghost town, where jobs have dried up. Smallville being different for Lois is part of what makes it interesting for me. Lois is more of a fast-paced city girl, so she feels like a fish out of water in Smallville. There’s a learning curve for her and she goes into trying to solve this mystery of what exactly Morgan Edge, who’s Lois is arch-nemesis, is up to, assuming that all the people of Smallville are gonna understand her point of view right away. She learns the hard way that there they’re really viewing her as an outsider who doesn’t understand them and doesn’t understand what they’ve been through. Businesses are shuttered and people are struggling to feed their families, and she has the realization that this is a part of the world that some journalists have maybe not been paying as much attention to, that they should have been.
I love how much more relatable it makes all of that feel.
TULLOCH: Yeah, for sure. That’s why Lois and Clark are relatable. They have such a humanity to them and they are being written as you know these iconic characters. Yes, it’s Superman, and yes, it’s Lois Lane, who’s a super famous and respected journalists, but they’re really messing up, right and left, when it comes to parenting. I don’t have a teenager yet, but it feels like having teenagers is probably stressful, especially in navigating the modern world, and social media and video games. All of that stuff is addressed in our show too. One of our teenagers suffers from an anxiety disorder and is always on his phone, always playing video games. That’s probably something that a lot of parents can relate to.
How has it been to really get to dive deeper into the relationship between Clark and Lois? Does it ever feel like there’s always this third person in their marriage, with Superman?
TULLOCH: Not the way that we have been playing it. Also, Lois is very in on the secret. at this point. We’re not seeing a version of Lois and Clark where she doesn’t know what’s going on, so it’s not like anything’s really being hidden from her. When he does jet off to save the world or wherever he’s going, that’s almost his own storyline. And then, when he comes back, he’s her husband and the father of their sons.
What was it like to form the family dynamic? How has it been to work with the actors playing the twins, Jordan Elsass and Alex Garfin?
TULLOCH: It was great. I’m very appreciative of The CW and Warner Bros. They had flown me down a few times to do chemistry reads and Tyler also was in chemistry reads with the actors that were reading for Jordan and Jonathan. I think they understood and respected that there had to be chemistry among the four of us. It was readily apparent, reading with both Alex Garfin and Jordan Elsass. They were fabulous in the room and had a lot of depth. Alex had been in drama school and Jordan has worked, but they haven’t done something to this degree of bigness with these huge characters on the show. They were very obviously fully capable of handling the emotional complexity of these characters, and Jordan Elsass has a lot of humorous stuff to do. They’re wonderful additions and it’s been great. I love the way that they’re written. Not only are they so different, where you have the football star, and then you have the one who’s more of an outsider that’s always playing video games and is a little bit of a loner and he’s suffering from an anxiety disorder, that changes the way that Lois and Clark interact with them. The boys love each other and they’re very protective of each other, even if they fight. It would be very easy to fall into a stereotype of these warring siblings, and we haven’t done that.
What are you most excited about continuing to explore with Lois Lane?
TULLOCH: I love the scenes between Tyler and I because we have such respect for each other, on and off set. The way that we’ve chosen to play Lois and Clark is that there’s such respect and admiration and love, and they’re fun. It’s really the dynamic that we’ve been able to create between the two of them, romantically and as parents. Navigating parenting and having differences of opinion of how to parent is a big aspect of married life when you have a kid. It happens all the time with me and my husband. We’re going through it right now, with what time we should put her down for a nap. I wanted to keep her nap time the same and David was like, “No, she’s getting a little older and we need to move it up half an hour.” That was a conversation and that stuff can be tough to navigate.
It’s interesting to see Lois be the one to push Clark to tell their sons that he’s Superman. Why is that so important to her?
TULLOCH: It ultimately boils down to who Lois Lane is. She believes in truth. She wants to save the world with words and she doesn’t believe that it’s in their sons’ best interests to be keeping secrets from them. She feels like they’re old enough to handle it. She pointedly says in the pilot that he was told when he was six and they’re 14, so they can handle it and they’re causing damage by lying to them. It really boils down to the fact that Lois believes in truth and justice, and she feels like it’s unfair to be keeping them in the dark.
How much have you been told about the storyline and where it’s headed? Are you aware of where things could go in future seasons, or do you prefer not to know that far ahead?
TULLOCH: I don’t like knowing something that Lois herself wouldn’t know. It doesn’t help me, as an actor, because then it might be in the back of my head. So, I don’t know much more than I need to know, in that immediate episode. I typically read a couple of scripts ahead, and that’s it.
Superman & Lois airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.
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