When we watched Friday’s Tom Welling-directed “Smallville” episode, “Booster Gold,” we found Metropolis’s newest hero to be… well, a little bit obnoxious, at first. He swoops in out of nowhere, saves a life, and subsequently basks in the glory, demanding attention and press and girls in gold hotpants. He’s kind of an egomaniac.
“Whoa,” says “Days of Our Lives” actor Eric Martsolf, who plays Booster in the episode. “That’s harsh!”
Okay, okay. He’s an egomaniac with a heart of gold.
“He can easily be construed as a jerk,” Martsolf tells us. “He may be an egomaniac and an ass, but the lesson here is that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to people. It turns out that Booster’s much more than an egomaniac. He was a child that was given a really poor set of circumstances growing up and he had to pay for his dying mother by throwing his own football career down the drain. I don’t think there’s anybody out there that, if given the chance to make their lives better, wouldn’t hop on it.”
There’s always a bit of pressure when taking on a comic book role, as fans have already established the character in their minds, but Martsolf made sure to do his research before arriving on the Vancouver set. “I let my fingers do the walking,” he says. “It’s amazing what you can dig up on a computer. I found hundreds if not thousands of Booster Gold references and old comic books and old and new renderings of the character. I came across fan clubs, for God’s sake! There was a plentitude of references to draw from and it was very helpful.”
He wasn’t intimidated by the fact that the character already had fan clubs set up in its name — especially because he’s the first live-action actor to play Booster. “I’m not a guy to shy away from a challenge,” he laughs. “Playing a superhero is literally every boy’s fantasy. I grew up wearing Superman underwear. Don’t get me wrong. I stopped. But when you get the call from ‘Smallville’ to portray Booster Gold, you don’t say no. You move earth and mountains to do it.”
Martsolf got to squeeze into one heck of a superhero costume. Booster’s ensemble is no joke. “It was pure leather!” he says. “Leather really doesn’t get comfortable until you’ve worn it for long periods of time. The suit really got comfortable on the last hour of shooting. Then I could really move in it.”
The comfort factor didn’t faze him much, because he was running on pure adrenaline for those days on set. Plus, he was in character: “Booster would never wear anything that wasn’t perfectly tailored to him, anyway. He’s a diva when it comes to fashion.”
Plus, there was one guy on set who made sure that Martsolf wasn’t too uncomfortable: Tom Welling, who wore an actor hat, a producer hat, and a director hat during this episode. “Tom was actually the guy that was making sure I got out of my harness to go get some pizza,” Martsolf says.
As a director, Welling has a knack for attention to detail – whether it’s making sure his guest star got his lunch or making sure that the fans would love the episode. “I was so impressed by how meticulous he was,” Martsolf says. “Even if it was four in the morning, and we all wanted to go home, he wanted to get his shot. He definitely didn’t work through the episode like a guy who was ready to say goodbye to his series. He’s still putting his heart into it, and when somebody works that hard, you want to work that hard with him.”
The environment on set didn’t reflect the impending end, though it is one of the final episodes of the series. “The mood was never gloomy. The sun hardly ever came out in the two weeks I was in Vancouver, but the mood was not shadowy whatsoever,” he tells us. “I felt as if we were filming a pilot, to be honest with you. There was still an excitement factor about telling the story and getting it right.”
No one checked out of “Smallville” early — all of the actors were still putting their best face forward.
“Tom and Erica [Durance] would have conversations about specific phrasing and attitudes about how they wanted to have the scene go. I was pretty amazed at the microscope that these guys brought out as far as wanting to get everything perfect for their fans.”
Excuse us. We just grew verklempt with emotion and we have to go accept that this show is ending all over again.
Don’t miss Booster Gold on “Smallville” tonight at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.