Superman & Lois star Tyler Hoechlin explains why season 2's big bad is 'a gift'
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Tuesday's episode of Superman & Lois, "The Thing in the Mines."
After two weeks of build-up, the Man of Steel finally came face to face with the "thing in the mines" on Superman & Lois — and it was a face he definitely recognized.
In the climax of Tuesday's episode, the green-suited monster who has been responsible for Clark/Superman's (Tyler Hoechlin) painful visions of destruction punched his way out of the mines and traded blows with the Last Son of Krypton. The monster's suit was damaged in the fray, revealing that he's actually Superman's scarred doppelgänger (also played by Hoechlin.) Or, as Sam Lane (Dylan Walsh) referred to him, "a bizarre" version of Superman.
Up until this point, the show had led viewers to believe that the big bad was Doomsday, the beast who famously killed Superman in the comics. But Sam's line coupled with the character's full look suggests we're dealing with another villain: Bizarro. In the pages of DC Comics, Bizarro is an imperfect clone of Superman, and is often depicted as being less intelligent and controlled than Superman but just as powerful.
EW hopped on the phone with Hoechlin to discuss playing Bizarro and what's to come.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, this is another season where you're playing multiple characters.
TYLER HOECHLIN: Triple duty, yeah.
How did showrunner Todd Helbing pitch the Bizarro idea to you?
He just basically said, "We want to have a few episodes of a tease, and then the one guy that would come in would be…" I think, really, how it came [about] is that we always want to find ways that Superman is genuinely challenged. It's always a difficulty with a character like that who has so few vulnerabilities. How do you make him actually vulnerable and kind of create this conflict? Sometimes you are your own worst enemy, so that was a fun idea to play with, and that's kind of how he wanted to pitch it.
What was your reaction to finding out about this new role you'd be playing?
Well, my original reaction was an expression that I cannot probably repeat in this interview as somebody who's playing Superman at the moment. That is not a very Superman thing say [laughs], but I thought it was very, very cool. Then, the schedule came out, I was like, "Oh, that's the part [the increased workload] I didn't think about when he said that." But it's always fun. I always like a challenge. I like being busy, so it's definitely been that.
After playing Superman, how did you go about developing your take on Bizarro?
I think it's a gift for anybody that's on a show when you're given something that allows you to completely go away from what you're doing consistently. I've been on shows in the past and I've been very lucky that they've given me new things to play with every season, and I've been on shows before where you feel like you're doing the same thing for years. It's always a gift to have the opportunity to really step out of your comfort zone of the character that you're getting used to and trying something new. I thought that was really fun, and I definitely am playing a lot of different things than Clark or Superman is dealing with. All of this thing has been a challenge, but it's been exciting and fun to just explore.
Was that your favorite aspect of this episode in particular?
In a way, there are certain rules with Superman. There are certain rules with Clark. You can find ways to bend those and kind of make it your own, but there are still just certain constants about them that make Superman Superman. With this new [character], there aren't really any rules, and so it's kind of fun to be able to, between action and cut, just go for it and say like, "Well, there's not really a wrong way to do this. We're just playing with it, and we're going to find what works and go from there." I think that was something that was really nice. I think also for the first time, really playing that many characters in one episode was an interesting challenge, and fighting yourself is always an interesting experience. It's just a lot of new things happening in one episode.
Has there been something like the script or the costume that has really helped you lock into Bizarro?
Talking about the character and talking about where they're coming from and where they're going obviously is part of shaping it. Hair and makeup, wardrobe, [it] cannot be stated how important those things are. Even on other shows I've done where you have prosthetics and things like that, when you do not see yourself in the mirror it's a really freeing kind of experience, because it doesn't even feel like eyes are on you at that point. You feel like you're actually stepping into someone else's skin. That's a huge, huge help. Those departments are insanely important for stuff like that. Then as far as the behaviors and the choices you're making, that's something that you just kind of feel within the character. With Superman and with Clark, to me he lives in a specific part of my body, and then with Bizarro that center moves.
Can you explain what you mean by center? How does Bizarro move differently?
I worked with an acting coach of mine who always talked about "center" and "finding where the character lives." For some people, you have characters who are kind of wandering and moving around, and the center's almost outside themselves. It's actually in front of their face, and so they're kind of always falling towards it and it's never actually in their body. With Clark and with Superman, he's a very centered person, so it always feels very much in the solar plexus, where it feels very strong and centered.
With Bizarro, it's not quite there. It's a little bit more up towards the head and in the neck, and it's a more stressed area. He's pressing, and things like that. Things that's we'll get into more as the season goes on, but the center in a different place, and so where you feel the energy's coming from and going throughout the body, it just lives in a different spot.
What makes Bizarro such a dangerous threat to Clark?
Those are actual spoilers, I think, even at this point, so I won't get too much into that, but I will say we have choices and people go down different paths. Clark and Superman, Kal-El, has always been very much [believed] in the path that he's walking, and maybe not everybody always does that. I think there's always a question of, what happens if Superman wasn't Superman anymore, if he started making different choices? So those are themes that we get to kind of explore: walking away from Superman and still being part of Superman.
Obviously Clark and Bizarro are linked somehow. After this encounter in the episode, what are the main questions Clark has?
I guess the first one would be, "How do I stop this?" is obviously something. I think one of the scariest things is what happens if Superman loses control. So if this other being is causing him to lose control, then who knows how far that goes. That, I think, would be the immediate question, is how do we stop it? Beyond that, obviously doppelgängers and things are things that in our world he's not unfamiliar with, but this is, I think, the first time that it's causing this kind of a reaction out of him, and I think he needs to find a way to get back in control.
Superman & Lois airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.