Supergirl director David Harewood breaks down Jeremy Jordan's return — in 'two roles'
Sunday’s episode, “Back From the Future — Part One,” directed by Supergirl star David Harewood, gives fans exactly what they’ve been missing ever since Jordan exited the series back in season 3. For the first installment of his three-episode return arc, Winn doesn’t just return from the future to reunite with Kara (Melissa Benoist), Alex (Chyler Leigh), and the rest of the super-friends — another version of him also arrives from an alternate Earth. One Winn is the BFF and tech expert formerly on Team Supergirl, and the other is a Winn whom his villainous father, Toyman (Henry Czerny), would be much more proud of, since he takes after his murderous toy-making ways.
When it came time to bringing both roles to life, Harewood reveals that he and Jordan spent a long time making sure they were different enough for fans to understand which Winn was which.
“I’ve always respected Jeremy and respected his work, I’ve always respected his talent and his humor and how hard he works, so I knew he was going to really come out the gates,” Harewood tells EW. “And because he was playing two roles, I wanted to make sure there was a distinct difference between the two of them. Speaking to each other a whole month before shooting, we were constantly in contact about it.”
Of course, both Jordan and Harewood knew exactly who the old Winn was — although viewers should look out for some pretty massive differences in the fan-favorite character after his time spent in the future with the Legion of Super-Heroes. It was the new, villainous Winn that took a little finessing to find the right tone.
“The Toyman, Jeremy had the idea that he was quite angry,” Harewood says. “I wanted to keep him entertaining because he wants people to like him and support him. It was important to me that we keep him appealing rather than angry. We played with that together to carve out a slightly different characterization between his returning future Legionnaire Winn, and I think we succeed in that.”
For Harewood, this wasn’t his first time directing an episode of Supergirl: He loved it so much when he did it for the first time last season that he knew he had to get behind the camera again. “I just love it. I love the crew, I love how collaborative it is. I love being able to sculpt the performances and really bring it to life taking it off the page and realizing the different aspects of the scripts,” he says. “I will be directing again this season, so hopefully with every episode I learn a bit more and be able to advance my skills.”
When Harewood appears on screen as J’onn J’onzz, a.k.a. the Martian Manhunter, he doesn’t get to share scenes with every other actor on the show. As director, he finally gets the chance to collaborate with all his co-workers. “I love being able to work with all these actors that I don’t normally work with and in a different capacity,” he says. “Being able to work with the crew, the cameramen, sound, costumes, everything, I love steering the ship and being at the table where you make the decisions. It’s very intoxicating.”
And this time around, Harewood got to “play with more toys” due to the technical nature and heavy CG use in this week’s episode. “It’s quite a big episode, and a lot goes on in this one,” he says. “I was really looking forward to that.”
Stepping behind the camera has also changed how Harewood approaches his acting. Now that he’s gone a few rounds in the director’s chair, “I learn my lines,” Harewood says with a laugh. “You do see a very, very different side of the business. I started talking with Jeremy a whole month before we started working together, just about character. That’s one of the things that I try and do differently now, to build up a rapport with other actors. I tried very hard to make sure I contacted each one of the people I was working with, just to talk with them about ideas and certain things we wanted to bring out. I try and communicate as much as I can with the actors to give them as much power and information as I can. I think that’s so important.”
Supergirl airs Sundays on the CW.