By the end of the Television Critics Association Winter Press tour, a two-week parade of television stars and execs, it’s possible for even the biggest TV fangirl to get a little bit burnt out on the endless interviews and panel discussions.
If there’s a cure for the press tour ennui, it’s Erica Durance. The “Smallville” star has raised the bar for Lois Lane — a character played by dozens of legendary actresses — and it would be easy to be intimidated by her, especially as the series winds to a close and she secures her place as a television icon.
Still, when we meet Durance in the hotel bar after the CW Cocktail Party winds to a close, intimidation isn’t what comes to mind. She’s kicked backed comfortably, and despite having spent the day with a veritable who’s-who of Hollywood, her Canadian-girl roots are undeniable as she orders fries with gravy from a waiter who stares at her like she’s speaking a foreign language.
“Or ketchup,” she says. “Ketchup would be great.”
The actress is all smiles, and with good reason – it is, after all, Durance Day, or #DuranceDay, as hash-tagged by the thousands of Twitter fans looking forward to Durance’s appearance on The CW’s “Kick Ass Women” TCA panel. “I’m very computer illiterate,” she admits. “I check my email, and that sort of thing, and for a long time I didn’t even know what Twitter was. I know enough now to sort of understand, so hearing that they did that – I’m really touched!”
Keeping with the spirit of #DuranceDay, we made sure to ask Durance plenty of questions sent in by Twitter users – and she answered happily. Perhaps the most endearing thing about her is that she’s as much of a fan as we all are. She’s more aware than anyone of the decade that fans have invested in the show, and she’s determined to do her part to make sure it pays off.
Zap2it: Let’s talk about that proposal in the most recent episode, “Icarus.” Did you see that coming?
Durance: No! Honestly, I was really surprised, when I read the script. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s happening fast!’ It was great on so many levels, though. It was fun for me as my character, that’s she’s now found that sort of love and trust that she’s really been looking for. And as an actress it was fun, too, because who doesn’t want to experience that? Petals falling from the sky, and this debonair man walking across the street in the dark — I felt like I was in a movie, and that sounds really cheesy, but I felt like a princess.
It was Clark Kent’s Clark Gable moment.
Durance: That’s what we were going for, a sort of old, classic romance, but still feeling real within the “Smallville” world.
Now that she and Cat Grant have formed a bit of a reluctant alliance, can we expect to see them team up more at work?
Durance: I do cross paths with Cat again, but we still see things from a
different angle. I don’t see that they’re going to team up much for a
lot of investigative work or anything, but there’s a bit more of an
understanding between them. For Cat, she’s sort of threatened by Lois.
There’s a lot of competition there. Lois’s focus is still Clark and
protecting him, and Cat still wants to expose the Blur, so that serves
to get the competition going again.
As much as we love the romance, I think a lot of fans have missed seeing Lois doing what she does best at the Daily Planet.
Durance: I think that in the evolution of the relationship, they’re in this time of great romance, and we wanted to show people that, the lighthearted moments that can be funny and that the fans can really enjoy. You’ll see Lois back at work very soon, though. Lately, we’ve seen Lois get really involved in the Justice League, and she needs to find her place within that world. It turns out that her way of getting involved is to do the investigative work, go undercover, and get into trouble, and be an asset to the heroes.
We’ll be getting more into that undercover stuff, and in the episodes we’re shooting now, she’s playing a much larger role in the dual identity thing that ultimately becomes a huge part of Clark’s (Tom Welling) future. Which is incredibly sexy, by the way. My god.
We got to see Clark and Lois’s future together in “Homecoming,” with the dual identity in full force. Will there be any more time-jumps or glimpses into the future?
Durance: I can’t say whether we’ll actually see their future, but we’ve started to drop a lot more hints about the little things that will eventually make up Clark’s destiny. There are a few things that we’ve worked in that are really going to get fans of the comics and the Superman legend excited. You start to see Clark’s core strength, too, so that he starts making these important choices about his life and who he’s going to be as Superman and as Clark and how he’s going to balance those worlds.
During the TCA panel discussion, you said that Lois’s focus right now is on being supportive of Clark as opposed to chasing down her own stories and fighting her own battles. Does that make her any less “kick-ass,” per se?
Durance: Lois is someone who believes in fighting the good fight. She believes in going after something that is greater than herself and in justice. Right now, she’s just trying to service that by supporting Clark.
I think some of the strongest people in the world are the ones who step back and let someone else shine. To be the rock, and the support, and the constant unconditional loving partner is a heroic act in itself. Clark may be the guy who saves the world, but he couldn’t do it without the person who stands beside him believing in him, so I see that as her role. It’s another side of being a kick-ass woman. You think of kick-ass, and you think of a woman who fights, of course. And I love when I get to be a part of stunts and fight scenes, obviously, but the long-term way that Lois kicks ass is knowing when, where, and how to be there for Clark.
Is there anything coming up that you’re particularly excited for fans to be able to see?
Durance: Oh, god, there’s so much. Lois has a hilarious bachelorette party coming up, of course, which is going to be a very fun episode for fans. In an upcoming episode called “Fortune,” she finds herself in the aftermath of this bachelorette party, which is this wonderful fantastic experience where they all get kind of — let’s say everything kind of goes blank. It’s a great episode that reminds me of some of the first investigative work she did. She finds herself having to go undercover in a very sassy outfit, with a very surprising partner.
Can you talk about the wedding at all?
Durance: I can’t even say if there will be a wedding, for sure. I’m not trying to be coy! I really can’t say, yet. I hope there is. I want the whole Justice League there, in their tights.
Will we see Lois open the envelope her mother left her for her wedding day?
Durance: Oh, you’re good. Let’s just say that if Lois gets married, we’ll see that letter again.
When Martha Kent (Annette O’Toole) returns, can we expect to see any meaty scenes between her and Lois?
Durance: Absolutely, we will. The great thing about having the relationship with Martha is that we actually get to see Lois experience what it would be like to have a mom. I love working with Annette and exploring that.
Before the end, will we see Clark take Lois for a flight?
Durance: Oh, god, I certainly hope so! Do I have a wish list? Sure. Do I want to be rescued and swept away into the sky? Ab-so-lutely. The wind blowing in my hair, the cape, Tom, the whole thing. It wouldn’t be a tough day at work, right? There are a ton of sort of iconic scenes that I want to see happen just like the rest of the fans want to see them happen. I get caught up in it.
What is the mood on set like as you guys wind down to the final episodes? You mentioned in the panel that you almost started to cry during a funny scene with Allison Mack recently because you were thinking about how close to wrap you are.
Durance: We’re still having so much fun on set! It’s one of those really great things where we’re all experiencing it together and growing closer for it. Everyone is so aware that it’s ending, but it’s a little bit surreal, but I’m in a situation where I have to be Lois at work, so I’m so focused on that,. As far as getting emotional, that’s inevitable. I have to feel all the little moments, and I allow myself to feel them, because otherwise I’m not doing service to the scene.
Do you have any post-“Smallville” plans yet?
Durance: We all like to be proactive and make plans, but I’m trying to relax now. I’m very zen at the moment. I want to take a moment to look back on what I was able to do and what I was able to be a part of and enjoy that, and take a break maybe. If something comes up that’s great, I’ll take it, but there’s nothing in particular that I’m looking for.
Would you ever consider playing Lois Lane in a “Superman” movie?
Durance: For me, I would only enjoy Lois in the recipe that I’m in already. That’s my reality of Lois. I would be open to all sorts of discussions about opportunities to revisit her, but to me, where my mind is right now, it would have to be with Tom Welling. It would have to be with Michael Rosenbaum. It would have to be this Lois, that I know. I want to try to embrace every moment that I have now, with her, but yes, I’d always be happy to consider something. It’d just have to feel right and I can’t picture a scenario where it would feel right without Tom Welling as Clark Kent.
“Smallville” returns at 8 p.m. on January 28.