The actress behind Tess Mercer tells us about acting opposite an orb and getting a black-eye on-set
Smallville is ramping up for it's season finale, Doomsday, where Clark is going to come face to face with Davis Bloom in his Doomsday persona. Doomsday, the only villain who can make the claim of having killed the Man of Steel. As if that wasn't enough for the hero to face, he must also deal with the schemes and plans of Tess Mercer, the new head of LuthorCorp, who knows Clark's secret. Tess has being working hard to force Clark to face Doomsday, and her motivations for this are unclear - is she on the side of angels or not?
We got the chance to talk to Cassidy Freeman, who plays Tess on the show, where we asked her a few questions. Here's what Cassidy had to say:
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Cassidy Freeman: Thanks for wanting to interview me.
Let's start with the big question - Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders have made no secret about the fact that at the end of the finale, there will be several deaths. So, I have to ask, is Tess going to be around for next season?
Cassidy Freeman: And I have to tell you that I know that I can't tell you. I will get totally beaten in the offices of the CW if I divulge. But I will tell you that I was surprised and I'm excited about next week.
So, are the any things that you can tell us about the finale? There have been hints that we might see a return of Lex possibly.
Cassidy Freeman: Uhm, no. Michael Rosenbaum will not be back in the season finale. But who knows? For next year, now that there's a whole next year. What can I tell you... part of the Justice League is coming back. Tess is going to keep being the sacrificial catalyst to try and make two of the strongest superheroes do battle. And Clark's got some hard decisions to make. But doesn't he always?
Well, we wouldn't have a show, otherwise. So, why is Tess so insistent on making them fight? Why is Clark's plan of sending Doomsday to the Phantom Zone something that was unacceptable to her?
Cassidy Freeman: Because she's found this book, the journal, Veritas, and in a weird way she finally has something to believe in. He said it in last night's episode (Injustice), He said "You obviously need some sort of hero, but I'm not your white knight." And she does need a hero. And she needs someone to... she's a little angry. She's a little bit of an angry person. And she's kind of upset with how things have gone for her. I don't think she wants that pain on anyone else. And if she's found a man who genuinely, every time, does the right thing, which in her mind is impossible, but she thinks she's found him, she needs to do everything that she can do to make him fully reveal himself and realize himself.
It's kind of the same thing that Oliver has been asking him to do this whole time, but she's just being much more direct about it. Well, she can be, because she has all this power.
So the glowing sphere that we saw in Injustice, are we going to find out more about that in the finale?
Cassidy Freeman: You mean the Orb? I love the Orb. Absolutely love the Orb. I remember when the Orb was introduced, and Tom came up to me and he was like "You know in my episode you're going to be talking to an orb." And I was like "Really?" And he was like "Yep." And I was like "Huh. An orb. Bring it on." Yeah, the Orb of Kandor. It tells me what to do this whole time, and I believe it. And it plays a role in the finale, absolutely.
You mentioned that Tess has been disappointed a lot, especially with the men in her life.
Cassidy Freeman: She kind of lets that happen, but yeah.
What's going on with her and Oliver? In the words of Shakespeare "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."
Cassidy Freeman: That's funny, because I did... I don't know if you know the play Measure for Measure? But I did that play and someone wrote that about me in an article. Yeah...
Olliver is the person who carries her Achilles' Heel, to be honest. He's the only man still around that she's ever shown a vulnerable side of herself to. And he knows it. When you're in a relationship with someone like that, I try and think of this in my own life too, and you give so much of yourself to someone, the relationship can end, and things can change, but you can never take back what you shared with them. And so, he's always going to know that. And so all of these ways that he's trying to get into her pants, or get into her bed, or whatever, they seem like attempts to her, but they're really pretty manipulative. He's just trying to steal stuff. And so the play between Tess and Oliver is really fun, because you never really know what the motive is. It's almost like "Do I love my work so much, that this is what I get to do?" Does he want to be in her bed? Maybe he does, but it wasn't for that. It was because he was just trying to get away from being caught. I think that's what adds to their fun relationship. I think that she has her eyes on a bigger prize right now. And he's kind of a back-burner. But she also knows that she's attracted to him, so she needs to draw that line very deep in the sand.
You came in to this season as a newcomer, and I know you said how excited you were about it, and how welcome everyone made you feel. Looking back at the completed season, how do you feel about the experience?
Cassidy Freeman: They're all assholes. (laughs) It was the worst year of my life! (laughs more) No, it was amazing. It took a few weeks to decompress, to get out of that world. And it turns into that world even more, because you're up in Vancouver, you don't have your daily normal life stuff to pull you out of it. But it was awesome. It was so cool. I will cherish it. I hope to stay in contact with these people for a long time.
Still looking back, what were some of your favorite moments for Tess as a character this season?
Cassidy Freeman: Favorite moments for Tess?
Or your favorite moments personally, either one.
Cassidy Freeman: For Cassidy? For Tess, I loved the mirror scene, where she told Lex to go f*** himself. That was awesome. I also really liked last night (Injustice) for Tess. I was kind of surprised by it. I think having two episodes off, and then also being like, two months removed from when we actually filmed it, I kind of forgot all that happened. And last night, I found myself like, rooting for her in a different way. I'm one of those weird people that like, sits down and watches the show by myself, like I'm not in it. I'm like "Oh, look at this. That's not me." So, that was cool.
Me, personally? I had a lot of fun in the island on Toxic. Toxic was a really fun episode for me. I think that was when I started really getting into my stride. And we got to work with leeches. And I got to wear not so much makeup.
And then when I got a black eye, that was pretty cool too.
Cassidy Freeman: You know in the opening credits, when I'm like boxing? Right? Ok, so that scene was my first kind of fighting scene. We were rehearsing it in one of the sound stages - it wasn't shooting, thank goodness. We're rehearsing it, and I love fighting. I love getting in there and doing it. So I was like, "Yeah, yeah, call me in for rehearsals, let's do it." And the guy that I was fighting with is so awesome, he was a great teacher, and then all of a sudden all of the producers decided to like come in to our rehearsal, unannounced, like sort of show up. And they sort of distracted me. And I looked to the doorway where they all showed up to watch the fight and I forgot to duck. And I just got slammed. Right in the face. With the boxing pad. And I've never been punched like that. I've never been in a fight like that in my life. I've never been punched in the face. And I was like "Uhhh!" And then I was like "Keep going, keep going!" to cover it up, and told my trainer to keep going. And I could already feel my face swelling up.
See, I think they unfortunately may have blamed him. And I was like it wasn't his fault at all. It was me. I did it. I was the one that didn't duck. But I'll tell you that, walking around Vancouver for the next couple of days, I looked pretty cool. I looked bad-ass. (laughs) Does that answer your question? (laughs harder)
(laughs)It's a great answer. So, if we make the assumption that Tess does survive, which I know you can't say one way or the other, what would you like to see happen for the character in the future? Where would you like to see Tess go from here?
Cassidy Freeman: Well, it's interesting, because she is so involved in everything now. You can't play the whole "Will she find out/will she not find out?" And the worst thing would be if they, like, erased her memory. That would suck. I think that, if Tess were to live on, that she needs to become a part of the mythos that's a bit different. She can't be a Lois Lane. And she can't be a Chloe either. There needs to be like, a new definition of someone who knows. Because I also think that her motives are genuine. And I think that she really does want goodness. I think that she's willing to do pretty scary things to get it, which is a little counter-intuitive, but I think it would be really interesting. I wish I was in the writer's room right now. (laughs)
And finally, do you have anything else that you're working on right now?
Cassidy Freeman: My kitchen. (laughs) I am, I'm doing a movie in June. It's a horror/thriller, called Yellow Brick Road. It's a really small independent movie that I'll be shooting in New Hampshire, in the woods, for three weeks. And I'm really excited about it. I get to get killed, which is cool. By my brother, which is even cooler, for him, maybe.
Real life brother?
Cassidy Freeman: Yeah, real life brother. This is an opportunity for me and my brother, whose name is also Clark, which is something, to play brother and sister in a movie. That's why I'm doing it. How could I pass that up? That and the script is awesome.
Thank you so much for time.
Cassidy Freeman: No problem. Thank you.
We'll find out more about what the future holds for Tess Mercer, Clark Kent and the rest of the crew of Smallville when the season finale, Doomsday, airs on May 14. Smallville airs Thursday nights on the CW. The drama about the early days of Clark Kent stars Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Allison Mack, Aaron Ashmore, Justin Hartley, Cassidy Freeman and Sam Witwer.