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Feature: Smallville

Like Father, Like Son

Lex and Lionel Luthor

This season, Lex Luthor will be continuing his descent into darkness, and although Lionel Luthor has the Luthorcorp empire in the palm of his hand, one day it will become Lexcorp. Actors Michael Rosenbaum and John Glover talk about their characters…

Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor)
The industrious actor still has a few episodes of the mega-popular Smallville to complete. Bang in the middle of explaining why he was skulking about a dark alley in downtown Vancouver in the middle of the night when any sensible person would have been tucked up in bed, Rosenbaum can’t quite smother a tiny sneeze. “Excuse me!” he begs. “That was a sneeze from last night. I didn’t go in ’til very late, the temperature was close to freezing and I tell you, I was cold. They had rain machines going, so imagine my bald head with ice water running down it. No wonder I’m sneezing. I really needed to be kept warm.”

The irrepressible Mr R is remarkably perky for a man who has only had a couple of hours’ rest. “Honestly, it’s the first time I’ve been home in ages,” he explains, “because I’ve been working so much. My call [to work] wasn’t until 11pm, and I was in at 6.30 this morning.” Defending his rather gruelling schedule, he smiles, “It’s only like this because sometimes you don’t finish episodes in the allotted time. What we then have is something called ‘second unit’, which means that even whilst we’re shooting one episode that is happening now – we also shoot shows that haven’t been finished, or which need some extra footage on second unit. Last night’s was for an episode where we meet Lex’s brother. In this particular scene there were machine guns, and the rain was pouring down. We’re in a back, dirty alley with a limousine and people running all over the place. It’s going to look really good.”

John Glover (Lionel Luthor)
Who shot Lionel Luthor? The whodunnit list is long enough. “You’ll see in Suspect that people have different reasons for who could have done it,” explains Glover. “Sometimes Lionel can go a bit too far. People don’t understand what he’s trying to do. It looks as if he’s the most despicable man in the world, but there are reasons for what he does.”

Maybe so, but even his son Lex is a member – make that president – of the I-Hate-Lionel club. “Well, some people think Lex did it,” explains Glover. “He really got angry at me. Lex thinks I’m taking away from him and ruining his business. But it’s for his own good.”

Yet Glover doesn’t see Lionel as the monster he’s painted to be. “I don’t see him as a villain; I just see him as a man who is quite ruthless in business and understands that his son is not quite what he could be. He’s just giving his son a series of tests to strengthen him.”

So does that make him Father of the Year? From Glover’s eruption of laughter, you can rightly assume the answer is no. “For myself personally?” he poses. “No, but as an actor, I have to believe. One of the first jobs I ever had in the industry was with Fred Zinnermann, who directed High Noon. I was this slimy, awful man. Mr Z said to me, ‘This man believes he himself is very noble’. It was my first insight into the type of characters I’ve played. I keep in mind Lionel sees himself as a good person. As John Glover, he’s not the father I would want.”

by Thomasina Gibson and Bryan Cairns

There is more from both interviews in the latest issue of
Cult Times #90

Photo © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #90, see below for ordering options
Cult Times #90
March 2003
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