The actor behind Doomsday on the hit CW series gives us some hints about what to expect in the show's eighth season.
For the first seven seasons, Clark Kent’s main nemesis on Smallville has been Lex Luthor. With Michael Rosenbaum departing the series, the producers have brought not just one new villain in, but two, in the form of Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman) and Doomsday (Sam Witwer). I had the opportunity to talk to Sam Witwer over the phone to discuss Davis Bloome, his supervillain alter-ego, and what we could expect to see this season. I also had the opportunity to pick the actor’s brain about his portrayal of Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and here is what he had to say.
Last night, Plastique aired, which was the first time that fans got to actually see Davis Bloome and Doomsday – and you know he seems like a real stand-up guy, real good hearted person, the only hint we get that there’s anything wrong is right at the very end when we see him passed out in an alley. When’s the first time that we’re going to get any deeper hints about his darker side?
Sam Witwer: You know, you’re going to get little bits of it here and there. My personal take on it, and this is not corroborated by the producers at all, this is literally just my theory… my personal take is that if… you know, I think you might see some serious conflicts between Doomsday and Clark by the end of the season. I think we’re kind of pacing it out to kind of turn into something as the season goes on. We’ve already shot some stuff that makes things a little bit more explicit. As far as seeing Doomsday, the Doomsday that the fans are expecting from the comic book, I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again, Jaws was a better movie because you rarely saw the shark, but you did eventually see the shark. So I’ll just sort of leave it at that.
At Comic-Con I got to ask you about his appearance, and you said you couldn’t say anything about what he’s actually going to look like when we see him. But one thing I was hoping you could say was when we do see him, is it actually going to be you? Is it going to be another actor? Is Doomsday going to be all CGI?
Sam Witwer: You know, these are things that I am not authorized to say, unfortunately. But what I can tell you is that, it will resemble, Doomsday will resemble what fans are expecting to see.
In the comics, Doomsday is actually from Krypton – that’s what draws him to Superman in the first place. Is the Smallville version of Doomsday alien in origin? Or is he more of a homegrown menace?
Sam Witwer: It’s the same sort of backstory that it is in the comic books. We haven’t disregarded that. We’re doing a little bit of reimagination and we’re adding to that mythology but yeah, he is from Krypton. He and Superman have that in common.
Doomsday is kind of unique among Superman’s enemies in that he’s one of the few who doesn’t have to, you know, try to outsmart Superman. He’s actually able to go toe-to-toe with him. Is the Smallville version going to be the same thing? We’re still going to see you go one-on-one with Clark?
Sam Witwer: That, I believe is the intention.
Have you had the chance to shoot any sequences fighting Tom yet?
Sam Witwer: No, we’re not there yet. But we are getting to the point where they are starting to get to know each other a little bit. Their friendship is going to be very interesting, because, as we know they have a lot in common. You know, obviously they don’t know anything about what they have in common at first, but eventually they may find that out, and that’ll be a sort of fun thing to play with. Because, Clark, you know he doesn’t have a lot of people he can sit down with and talk about what it’s like to be him. And it should be really… I’m really looking forward to that. I think that’ll be a really cool thing. As far as Doomsday, we’re taking our time with Davis. That’s our concern right now. We’re trying to make that guy a real and interesting human being in his own right. You know, create a character that hopefully the audience can buy into, and then we’re going to take him apart piece by piece as the season goes on.
And I want to get back to talking a little bit more about Davis’ relationships with the other characters, but just a couple more Doomsday questions. Is the Doomsday part of Davis intelligent? Or is he still more of a rampaging beast type thing?
Sam Witwer: It’s sort of primal side to him. It’s almost as if Davis Bloome is… the way I think of it is, and this is my personal take on it, and again we’re getting into the meat of it now, we’re just starting to get into it, so, as for what the producers have planned, I don’t know all of it, but I know some of it. But my personal take is that the Davis Bloome persona… Doomsday is the ultimate survivor, right? He has been in the comic books, he was designed to be this being that can survive anything. And Davis Bloome, the way I look at it, that that persona is another survival technique. That this is something that the Doomsday creature also developed as a manner of survival on Earth. And at the same time, this persona that’s been created is a really good guy. And you know, he has his own take on how things should go and what’s the right thing to do in this situation or that situation. It’s a really unfortunate story, a really dark story and we’re hoping we do it justice in terms of the logical impact of the Doomsday story. Because obviously, you’ve seen the first episode that I’m in, so you know that this guy has no idea. No clue. And it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to make the leap that when he does find out, he’s not gonna be happy about it. It’s going to be a very upsetting thing. And it’s something he’ll probably fight as much as he can. And hopefully this will be a really unpleasant thing because, you know, what would you do if you found out that you’re responsible for a bunch of people’s deaths? And, you know, you felt like you’ve, you know you had no idea. You’ve… your entire life you’ve been trying to be, like you said, a stand-up guy, a good person, somebody who helps people rather than hurts them. And to find that out would be horrifying, would really take a real psychological and emotional toll. And I’ve talked to the producers a lot about where that could logically go, what would a human being do in that situation? And I told them what I thought I would do. And I think we came up with some really cool ideas in that little meeting, some really twisted stuff.
That sounds awesome. My next question was going to be, a lot of comic fans were kind of resentful of Doomsday when he first showed up – that felt that if DC was going to kill off Superman, even temporarily, it should have been a classic enemy. And Doomsday, you know, was kind of this out-of-the-blue, out-of-nowhere mindless beast. It sounds like the producers of Smallville and you have actually put a lot more thought into it than DC comics did when they brought Doomsday in.
Sam Witwer: *laughs*
But are you at all worried about backlash from the comic perception of Doomsday affecting how fans of Smallville perceive you?
Sam Witwer: Well, you know, Smallville is its own thing, really, so you know they’ll either like it or they won’t. I can’t be that concerned with it – I hope they do like it, but you know, I’m there to do my job and to try to do it as well as I can. So, you know, if they don’t like it, I could be partially responsible, the producers could be partially responsible. If they do like it, they’ll get the credit. You know I never look at it that way. I’ve taken a few parts where I thought about “Wow, there’s a real fan expectation here, like the Star Wars thing.” You do think about it for a second and you go “Oh boy, this is going to be tough and I’m going to get hate mail” but really at the end of the day you just do your best that you can to make an interesting character. And you put it out there. You can’t really, while you’re working, you can’t think too much about what people are going to think. You just have to do what your instincts say needs to be done. And hopefully those are the right instincts.
Makes sense. So, let’s talk a little bit about the Davis side and your relationship with the people on the cast. The first time we see Davis there’s definitely some romantic tension between him and Chloe in Plastique. Are we going to see that go anywhere?
Sam Witwer: You’re going to see it evolve, definitely. Chloe and Davis also have some things in common but we can’t go into that just yet. Evolve, and again the thing is in terms of any kind of romantic tension, she’s engaged to Jimmy and Davis isn’t really the kind of guy who would get in-between that. You know, that’s not really his thing. But you will see a very interesting relationship evolve between Chloe and Davis. I like it very much, any way. And I love working with Allison Mack, because you know, she’s just a sweetheart, she’s a really good actress and just really fun to work with. I’m really glad I was paired up with her.
So, advance reports have already gotten out about episode six, Prey, where Clark is actually going to think that Davis is a serial killer, and Chloe is going to come to his defense. So, can you tell us anything about what we should expect to see about how that affects his relationships with both Clark and Chloe? I’m assuming that we don’t find out in that episode that definitively ‘Oh yeah, Davis is Doomsday’ but I’m sure that there’s going to be some repercussions.
Sam Witwer: I really like that episode because it… uh, God, I wish I could talk about it, I really can’t. I don’t want to spoil it for you guys. There’s some really, you know, Brian and Kelly wrote that one and I thought they did a really good job of walking a few tightropes. And establishing something and calling attention to something in such a way that… you know what they did in that episode? And I’ll just put it out there like this. Alfred Hitchcock used to say that tension is all about… ok, you have a scene where two people are talking at a table and then suddenly a bomb explodes, that was underneath the table, and then they die. Right? And you go “Ok, that’s surprising.” But if you want tension in your scene, then you have those people talking at the table, and then you cut to the bomb underneath the table. And then you have them talking more, and then you cut to the timer on the bomb. And you keep building that up, and you make the audience aware of something that the characters are not aware of. And that’s what they did in episode six, is they put the bomb under the table.
Erica Durance, who plays Lois, she told us that she gets to have a moment with Doomsday while she has superpowers, in some future episode. Can you tell us anything more about that?
Sam Witwer: It’s, uh… *laughs* You’re asking all the hard questions! What can I tell you about that? I can tell you that it, in a way, that puts the Davis character on the path to discovering some really messed up stuff. But it should be really cool, in that I don’t think I show up that much in the episode, but when I do really important things are happening. And really that’s when they start going into the premise that I was originally sold on when the producers approached me for the role. They kind of… man I don’t know how much I should tell you. There’s an element of Unbreakable in this I think. I’ll put that out there if you think that’s too much of a spoiler… a small element of that. It’s not really about that, but there’s some stuff in there. And Erica kind of pushes that.
We’ve kind of hit most of the major characters. Is Davis going to have any significant interactions with Tess or Oliver or any of the other Justice League members?
Sam Witwer: I’ve had a little interaction with Oliver. I’ve had some interaction with Jimmy Olsen. I really like Aaron Ashmore, he’s a really cool guy, really fun to work with. So, we’ve been having fun. When we’re on the set there’s a lot of ridiculous out-takes from stuff that we’re doing. And Tess, yeah, I think I know how we’re going to interact. I think I’ve kind of figured that out. But that hasn’t happened yet. And I don’t think that would happen for a little while. But I can’t wait because I love Cassidy (Freeman). Cassidy is a great chick and a wonderful actress and I really can’t wait to work with her. Especially since we’re both from Chicago, our fathers know each other, it’s pretty funny.
How many episodes have you guys shot so far?
Sam Witwer: We have eight in the can right now. Yeah, in about a week we go back to work and start on number nine.
Have there been any talks about the future of Smallville? Is this it? Is there going to be a ninth season? And if there is, do you know if you’re going to be back for that?
Sam Witwer: God, you never know man. You never know. We’ll see what happens.
If I can take just a quick diversion to ask you a little bit about Star Wars; you did not just the voice but also body capture for Starkiller for The Force Unleashed.
Sam Witwer: Mostly the motion capture we did was for the face, to give the animators facial reference data for what I was doing in the performance so they could do their thing. And in terms of the body stuff, that was all video reference. So, it’s sort of a marriage of what I was doing and what they’re doing, what their requirements were. So it’s a really cool thing, but yeah, it’s more than just a voice performance, which was the fun thing. And the boys from ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) helped us out with that, and that was… awesome. Very, very cool, actually to go over to ILM even today, like, not today but a week and a half ago I was in San Francisco for the launch of Force Unleashed, and I stopped by ILM and some of the guys that helped us work with Force Unleashed were still using my model, my character model, to do some tech demos. And to do some R&D. So, I’m very honored that I’ve become part of Industrial Light and Magic’s R&D. Because I really liked working with those guys and I’ve been a fan of Industrial Light and Magic and all of Lucasfilm companies since I was a kid, so that was a real treat. Really, more than anything man, it was just an incredible, incredible experience to work on a Star Wars property, especially one that LucasFilm is taking so seriously. And you know, we got to have a launch event, I got to hang out with George Lucas, and the whole thing was just amazing.
And the reaction to Force Unleashed, at least from Star Wars fans has been great. I’ve read the novel, I know that the story ends up being really pivotal to the whole Star Wars mythology.
Sam Witwer: Yeah, that’s the coolest thing about it I guess, because when I was originally auditioning for it… my buddy David Collins works at LucasFilm, he’s the lead audio on The Force Unleashed. He’s also the guy that ended up playing PROXY. And amazingly so, because he’s also an actor. And David was the guy, him and Peter Hirschman, they created this concept art for Darth Vader’s apprentice. And the concept art that they created looked exactly like me. And David and Peter, who is a Battlestar fan, both saw that and recognized that and said “Wow, we need to bring Sam Witwer in for an audition. So, fast-forward ahead after I’ve been hired and working on this, I’m working with David – who is one of my best friends. And you know, we’re both huge Star Wars fans, and we’re showing up to work every day and shooting and we’re making our own Star Wars. And not only are we just making our own Star Wars, but we’re making a Star Wars that really counts against the mythology of Star Wars. And it bridges the gap between the old trilogy and the new trilogy really effectively. And that was really, really fun. And it was really fun to talk about how to scale the performances and how to put out the performances in such a way to make them feel like the original trilogy. The story that I tell a lot is that we were shooting something early on… we did this scene, and it was early on and it didn’t quite feel like Star Wars and that was sort of a depressing moment, and we were like “Oh god, what do we do?” And Dara was just like “Well, you know, just amp it up and do this and do that,” and immediately I’m like “Dara, can I try something?” And he was like “Sure.” And I’m like “What if we did it again except… faster and more intense?” The joke goes then, the old legend goes that George Lucas only gave, that was the only direction he gave on the original Star Wars movie was “Aw, do it again, but faster and more intense.” So that was the most often heard direction on our set, you know. If you could say a line fast – do it. It gives you that nice 1940’s taste to the dialogue.
There’s been some talks about looking to turn The Force Unleashed into a film. Would you be on board for that?
Sam Witwer: Oh, absolutely. I think the story is certainly good enough. And it would be really, really a lot of fun to develop a lot of the aspects that we just did not have time to develop. And just really go for it. And certainly, we’ve been working on this for a year and a half and there’s a lot of material there, so I think we would have a leg up if they decided they wanted to make a movie or animated movie. There’s a bunch of pre-production work that has already been completed.
Sam, you’ve been awesome and I think I’ve taken up enough of your time. Thank you so much.
Sam Witwer: Thanks.
You can watch Davis Bloome’s transformation from helpful paramedic to villainous monster by catching Sam and the rest of the cast of Smallville Thursday nights on the CW network.