Jupiter's Legacy star Matt Lanter on suiting up as a Tony Stark-esque Skyfox
The Star Wars: The Clone Wars actor brings "a lot of charisma and bravado" to this hero-turned-villain.
Matt Lanter has played his fair share of superheroes over the course of his career — or rather, he's voiced them. The Winter Soldier in the animated Avengers Assemble. Aquaman in DC's The Death of Superman and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. Venom (we'll call him an antihero) in Ultimate Spider-Man. This, perhaps subconsciously, gave him a unique perspective when approaching a different kind of hero, George Hutchence, a.k.a. Skyfox, in Jupiter's Legacy at Netflix.
Lanter easily conjures up images of Iron Man when discussing the suited supe who later becomes a villain in Mark Millar's original comics. It's a character that comes with "a lot of charisma and bravado," he tells EW.
"I saw a lot of Tony Stark in him. I saw a little bit of Jack Sparrow flair, and I also used a little bit of Paul Newman as my inspiration to bring George to life, that classic feel," the actor says. "I think Paul Newman always has a secret. If you watch him, he always seems to have a smirk on his face, like he knows something that the audience doesn't. That makes him really interesting. I felt George was such an interesting guy."
Virtually all of Lanter's scenes take place in the past, specifically 1929, just as the stock market is about to crash. While half of the show is set in the present, following Sheldon/the Utopian (Josh Duhamel), who's grappling with the legacy he's left behind after shaping the world with his team of superheroes called the Union, the other half is about the group's origins. That includes George.
A younger Sheldon starts seeing visions that lead him and a team he assembles, including his best friend, George, to a mysterious island. There, mysterious events occur that grant them superpowers.
"The world that Mark Millar has created is so vast," Lanter says. "It's multigenerational, really. That's what it's rooted in. It's really a human story at the core. 'Superheroes' is a secondary thing.
"I think that people are soon going to find out that it's DC, it's Marvel, and it's Millarworld," he adds, citing Millar's imprint for developing comics — and now adaptations of those stories. "We're going to be exposed to a brand-new cast of characters. I love Batman, I love Spider-Man, I love Wolverine, I love Cyclops. But we've known about them for a long time. I think it's really exciting to have some new characters come in."
The idea of joining a production like Jupiter's Legacy after reading the script for the first episode felt "overwhelming" for Lanter. It was a large cast, including Leslie Bibb as Sheldon's wife, Grace/Lady Liberty, and Ben Daniels as Sheldon's brother Walt/Brainwave. And pilots, he mentions, are "always hard" when it comes to "trying to introduce main players" and "story location."
"After I read some of the comics, I completely understood [the concept]," he says. "By episode number 2, I was so hooked into the story and into this universe and these characters."
When George first appears on Jupiter's Legacy, he's the embodiment of wealth. The man always has a ring on nearly every finger, and his broad frame is buttoned up in the finest suits — a major change from the "Under Armour, Nike guy sweats" Lanter is used to these days in his Nashville home. The actor mentions the first thing we hear from George on the show: how he's been sailing around Saint-Tropez with a gaggle of women. Lanter thinks of him as "one of those guys you want to hang out with just to listen to his stories."
"His life is a theatrical production because he's got all the money in the world," he says. Yet the money and the extravagance masks the man behind it all. "Even though he seems like a happy-go-lucky guy in the beginning, there's a deep-rooted loss."
Jupiter's Legacy is partly about family, particularly the dynamics between super-parents and their super-children. Millar describes it as, "What if the world's coolest guy, like Superman, married the world's coolest woman, like Wonder Woman, and they had these f---ing awful children who would be like the Kardashians?" Those children being Andrew Horton as Brandon and Elena Kampouris as Chloe. George is largely without a family, choosing his friends, like Sheldon, to fill that need.
"There's a hole in his heart where family and love should be," Lanter says. "Some of that is covered up by his grandness. I do think that George is the guy that if somebody says something [mean] to him, he might respond with rolling it off, but I think he heard it."
In the comics, this character combination brings George to a dark turn. After receiving his powers and becoming Skyfox, he becomes a notorious supervillain, which is something Lanter hopes to explore further in a second season of the show. Season 1 introduces Ian Quinlan as Hutch, George's son who's become a villain himself with an absentee father. Lanter says that makes for "another set of daddy issues."
Millar speaks of Jupiter's Legacy as if season 2 has already been green lit. However, Netflix would not confirm that at this time.
"From the comics, we see [George is] this jaded guy who doesn't want to do anything. He's just fed up with the world, fed up with the code, fed up with the Union. He's doing his own thing," Lanter explains. "I think it's such a huge arc, and I'm really excited to hopefully get to play present-day George next season. There are a lot of places we could go with this."
With so many other projects in the works from Millar and Millarworld at Netflix, it's not an implausible reality.
Jupiter's Legacy premieres Friday on Netflix.