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'Smallville': Eric Martsolf on arrival of Booster Gold, Tom Welling's directing skills

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Smallville Booster
Jack Rowand/The CW

Days of Our Lives actor Eric Martsolf knew he wasn’t in Salem any more when he first arrived on the set of Smallville. “It was rainy. It was cloudy. I got out of the car and the first thing I see is this 6-foot-5 guy with black hair, and it was Tom [Welling]. He just has this giant smile on his face and goes, ‘Boooooster.’ And I go, ‘Claaaark.’ It was like we instantly had this understanding about how these guys should get along,” Martsolf says. “It was like two kids in a candy store.”

In a chat with EW, Mansolf talks about getting his chance to play Booster Gold, working with star Tom Welling — who also directed tonight’s aptly titled episode, “Booster” — and even touches on the cancellation of two legendary soaps.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like bringing Booster Gold to life? On the show he’s kind of a trip — has a bit of an ego.

ERIC MARTSOLF: I didn’t know much about Booster Gold when I was offered this role, but after doing my homework, I couldn’t be more proud to bring this guy to life. He’s a ball of style. He’s an egomaniac and extremely conceited, but he also has a sense of rich integrity under him. He really does want to do good things, and Tom Welling and I talked about this character for some length on set, and we talked about who we want this guy to be portrayed as. We definitely wanted him to be liked and as someone who had terrific heroic potential, all wrapped in a Ron Burgundy/Anchorman type of guy. He’s such a comical hero, and I think there’s a place for that in the world of superheroes. We gotta laugh.

What can you tell me about everyone’s reaction to him on the show?

He’s that guy you almost want to hate in the beginning. But the trick with Booster Gold is that he’s a much more rich character than we originally think. He has an awful childhood. He has a degenerate gambling father and his mother was very, very sick and he turned to gambling to pay for her medicine. So the origins for Booster Gold are heart-wrenching. The reason he turned to the immoral directions that he did are very sincere. I think the episode serves as a good vehicle to show that.

What can you say about Tom as a director and what he brought out of you as a character?

Tom did a wonderful job directing. I can’t sing his praises enough. When we were on a break and I was stuck in a harness 20 feet above the ground, he was the guy taking my pizza order. It wasn’t anyone from catering. It wasn’t the stage manager. It was the director of the episode. And Tom was like, “Dude, you want pepperoni, or cheese, or anchovies?” It’s things like that in this industry that show you who somebody is.

He did his homework as well. The episode is awesome because it’s a battle of style versus substance. Booster Gold is the pinnacle of style and Clark Kent is the pinnacle of substance. The truth is Superman is a wonderful combination of both. You can’t just have the substance and be the Blur and a shadow. That’s not what people view Superman is. He’s a presence. I think what’s great is that they learn from one another. You can combine the two elements, and that’s a superhero.

Now, not to ruin anything for anyone, but you do have an important line in this episode that nods to what Clark becomes. What was it like getting a chance to be that big of a part in this mythology?

When I originally got the script, and I saw that line in the episode, I jumped up from my seat and yelled to my wife, “Honey, you gotta see this! Guess what I get to say!” I felt like I was 14 years old. But you’re right, without giving too much away, Booster Gold does plant the seed in Clark’s head as to what this person of his could be called. Booster is from the future. He knows darn well what Clark becomes and what he is.

So you’re only in that one episode right?

Yes. But I actually joked around with a producer one moment during the shoot and he said, “I don’t know. Maybe we need to look into the adventures of Booster Gold.” I was like, “Let me know what my call time is. I’d be happy to let Days of Our Lives know we have to work around it.”

Speaking of Days, how sad was the cancellation of One Life to Live and All My Children?

Frankly, I was extremely disappointed. It was a dagger in the heart. Soaps have been my bread and butter and kept my family going for the last nine years. To see them being kicked off for cheaper and easier — for lack of a better word — programming on the schedule is heartbreaking. Justin [Hartley] came from soaps. I could go through a list of giant names who have gone through soaps. It’s a genre all its own. I hope to God that networks don’t kill the genre. I understand that trends need to be kneaded here and there, but I’d be lying to you if I told you it wasn’t a worrisome factor. It’s been my livelihood. If soaps go away, I got a blue and gold costume I could put on.

Follow Sandra on Twitter: @EWSandraG

Read more:

‘Smallville’ recap: Going ‘Fringe’ and finding home

‘Smallville’: Clark’s True Colors?

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