Exclusive Interview: Annette O'Toole Talks About Her Return To Smallville In "Beacon"
Interview by Craig Byrne
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Annette O'Toole's Martha Kent is always a welcome face to see on Smallville, as the support and interaction between Clark and his mother has been one of the show's strongest relationships. Tonight, Annette is one of many people to return to Smallville during its final season, in an episode that will see her interacting with most of the show's current cast as well as past favorites like John Glover's Lionel Luthor, who has recently returned from the dead in the form of an otherworldly counterpart.
What is it like to come back to the show again?
It was the first one I came back for that Michael wasn't with me. [Last time], he and I went together, we spent a week in Vancouver, and actually, he seemed to have more to do in that episode in terms of time spent on the set. It was really fun. I went by myself because he was working on something else. It was five really hard days because I was in the episode a lot, which I loved.
This was great, because I was right in the center of things, and I love to go and work hard. I love Michael Rohl, who was the director. I've worked with him maybe twice before - at least once before - and I liked him then. I love his pace. I love how he trusts the actors, but he also has really good ideas. He's a really good director.
Going there and seeing Tom, it's always like I'm seeing my son again, who I haven't seen in a few years. He's just a joy, and we had a wonderful time together. Of course, Allison -- she was telling me about all of the stuff she is doing in New York, which is so exciting; she and I have a really nice little scene together. And then Glover gets in and we run out across the street to have dinner. We see each other here all the time anyway, but working with John is such a joy. He's amazing. He's the kind of actor I love, because he's so serious about what he does, but once he's there and he knows the lay of the land, he just has a lot of fun. And that's what I like too. I like to be serious up to a point, and then when you know what you're doing and you know everything's going to be okay, you trust everybody around you, then you can just relax and enjoy each other, so that's what we do.
When you agreed to return, were you aware that so many people would be back for this episode?
No. I don't remember when I found that out. When they say they want you back and what the time element is, you just say "oh, okay," and you figure "well, they'll have something for me to do." But I had no idea. Because before, it was mostly with Tom and Erica and Michael [in "Hostage"]. I didn't see Allison at all. She was up there. I didn't even see her. Glover wasn't in that one. So yeah. You never know. It was really exciting. The only person that I didn't have anything to do with this time was Cassidy, and I did have that scene with her before during the Red Queen thing. But I saw her the other day. I went in to loop a few lines of ADR for the episode and she was there right before me. So I got to say hi to her. That was nice.
Do you have any scenes with Lucas Grabeel as the Lex clone, and how is that different from working with Michael?
He's a different Lex, and he's at an age where I didn't really know Lex. I don't really have many scenes with him. There's a scene that takes place over me when I'm passed out, so I got to hear it [laughs], but Martha didn't hear it. He's great. I really liked him. We spent some time on the set together. He was showing me his iPad, and now I have one, and I'm addicted now, so he was one of the people who got me in that direction. But I really liked him. He's very serious about what he does; he's very concentrated. I thought he was great.
This is the first time you've come back since Clark and Lois got engaged. What does Martha make of this?
You'll see. There's a lovely scene I get to do with Erica. It's just the two of us in the kitchen, one of the mother-daughter kind of scenes. I like it because it's relaxed. It's kind of like what their relationship will hopefully be in the future. It's the beginning of that. It's Martha making it okay for Lois just to be Lois, and not to feel like she has to be this other Wonder Woman, or Superwoman, or whatever Lois thinks she has to be. It's just really sweet. As we've said before, whatever makes Clark happy and is good for Clark in the long run is what Martha wants, and I've figured it out that Lois is what's good for Clark.
Considering you played Lana Lang in Superman III, did you ever root for Clark and Lana to end up together?
Not in this version. [laughs] Only because of the direction that it started to take - the teen romantic thing. It became a little more touchy feely than I thought that relationship was ever going to be. I'm a fan of the Lana from the comics. I just loved her because she was sort of the underdog with Clark.
What is the feeling like on the set knowing the end is near compared to when you were still on the show as a regular?
You know, year to year, you never knew if you were going to get picked up anyway. The only thing that's different now is you really know this is it.
Is there any chance we'll be seeing Martha again before the series is over?
You know, there's always a chance.
John Schneider is now up in Vancouver shooting another episode. Since you've reunited with almost everyone else, do you wish you had gotten the chance to work with John again?
Yeah, I do! He and I had a wonderful time together. It was a lovely relationship I think we developed. When I do see the show, I really think it's too bad that's not there. I don't know how it would fit in anymore, but I would have loved to have seen that again. But yeah. I'd love to work with Schneidy again. It would be really fun.
Was there anything that particularly surprised you in your return?
It was the same thing that surprised me before when I returned for the Red Queen episode: How much I enjoyed it. How good it felt to be back and to be in that place, to look around that set and remember all of the things that have happened. I remember Tom being this kid who was this raw talent, and just how far he's come, it's amazing. He's really within scenes, directing the scenes, because he knows how quickly things have to be done, and how things are cut together now, and since he's been directing and he's practically in every scene... that always amazes me, his growth as an actor and as a director. He's always been an incredible guy, from the very first day. All of the physical beauty and kindness aside, he's just a fun, funny guy. He's very into his producing of Hellcats. It's so great because he cares so much about it, and it's fun to see him blossom into this great man.
Vancouver is a great city, and I love being there. There's a lot of fun stuff. I love the weather, and I love hanging out with Glover.
Is there any message you wanted to get out to your fans?
I just have such great affection for these people who love these characters so much, and who think about them, and have brought them into their lives. I got a tweet from a woman saying that she kind of has taken her view of parenting from Martha Kent, in how Clark really is her world, and I'm glad to see in this story, that she branched out and she does now have a life. Your child can't be your whole life. It is a focal point of your life, but at some point, you have to let that child fly.
I feel so grateful to everybody; the way they've embraced the show and Martha. There are still people who see me and they put their arms around me, and I think "Wow. What could be better than inspiring love in people." It really is a great thing, and I feel so grateful to them, and to have been a part of this amazing process. I was thinking the other day about it. I came into it late. I was the last person, they reshot my stuff, and my life would have been so different without having all these people in my life, so I'm a happy camper.
"Beacon" airs tonight at 8PM (ET) on The CW! Here are some extras, including images from the episode:
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