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Feature: Smallville's Michael Rosenbaum

Evil Genius in the Making

Michael Rosenbaum as Smallville's Lex Luthor Offered the role of comic book legend Lex Luthor in Smallville, Michael Rosenbaum jumped at the chance to give the character a new dimension. Even though it meant shaving his head especially…

The first thing actors usually do when they show up at the studio is change into their working garb and then go to make-up. That's not the case with Michael Rosenbaum, who plays the enigmatic Lex Luthor on Smallville. "Every day I come in an hour-and-a-half before everyone else to have my head shaved," says the actor. "At times, my head actually hurts," he jokes. "To top it off, it has to be covered with make-up because my hair grows fast, which is a good thing. You know what, though, I really don't mind not having hair. If that's the worst thing I ever have to put up with as an actor then I'm one heck of a lucky guy."

Rosenbaum's bald alter ego has certainly been a hit with the show's fans. The actor's portrayal of Lex Luthor is unlike any audiences have seen before. In the Superman comic books, and later in the movies and on TV, Lex was a villain and The Man of Steel's arch enemy. Smallville takes place long before that...

"When you talk about Superman and Lex Luthor you've got to be careful," continues the actor. "There's the potential to end up with a show that's hokey and looks cheesy, and I was hoping that wouldn't be the case with Smallville. When I read the script I was relieved as well as pleasantly surprised. The character of Lex had some real depth and the story was set at a time before he turned evil and before Clark Kent became Superman. It was about the journey that these two guys take, and I liked that. Also, the script made sense and the dialogue was natural. So I went in and met with [executive producers] Mike Tollin and Joe Davola. They told me what they wanted to see in Lex and that's what I tried to give them..."

The Smallville pilot proved a huge success with audiences and the show has since continued to soar in the ratings. "It's amazing to all of us just how popular the series has become, and in such a short time," enthuses Rosenbaum. "The first time I had an inkling of this was one day when I went into the studio to re-record some dialogue. The director of the pilot, David Nutter, who is just wonderful, said, ‘Hey, I want to show you the opening of the show.' I watched it and left there so excited. I called my family and friends and said, ‘Mom, Dad, Matt, Tom, this is it.' They asked, ‘What do you mean?' I'd worked on some good projects before but there's something a different about Smallville. I said, ‘This show is going to catch people's attention,' but, again, I didn't know just how much. It's been a blessing in disguise."

by Steven Eramo

Read the full interview with Michael Rosenbaum, plus another with Allison Mack, the season finale reviewed and the TV Zone team going head-to-head over Smallville's merits, in:
TV Zone #152

Image © The WB
Feature © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

Taken from
TV Zone #152, see below for ordering options
TV Zone #152
July 2002
ships from Jun 13 2002
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