Most actors are double threats. They can act and sing. Or they can act and write their own episodes. Or walk and chew gum at the same time. (We kid!) Anyway, Smallville's Justin Hartley is doubling up as well with directing and acting. And the world will see his directorial debut in tonight's episode, "Dominion."
When we got him on the phone to talk about being behind the camera and in front of it, he wasn't afraid to admit it was a tough job. No sugarcoating here. That's one of many reasons why we adore him. Need more reasons? Plus swoonworthy Chloe, Lois and Clark info? All you have to do is read on:
Q&A: Smallville's Justin Hartley
What can you tell us about "Dominion," tonight's episode?
Justin Hartley: I can tell you that I directed it. The story is in the beginning we find out that something happened in the Phantom Zone. Clark (Tom Welling) is the only one who can go into the Phantom Zone and fix the problem, but once he comes back out of the Phantom Zone, of course, everything goes to hell. Oliver cons his way into the Phantom Zone when Clark says, 'Don't go, it's dangerous.' Now the two of them up being stuck in the Phantom Zone, and they have to work together to figure out a way out. We find out a lot about trust and where their trust lies with each other and within themselves. [There's] a really touching scene at the end between Lois and Clark. Zod (Callum Blue) comes back.
So, tons going on. A lot for a first-time director.
I got lucky. I got a really great script. I got great people to work with, I got great stories for our leads. And I got a lot of help from everyone so hopefully everyone likes it.
Was it difficult being behind the camera and in front of the camera at the same time?
Difficult, but I found a sweet spot. I talked to my assistant director Sandra, and I was like, 'Sandra, here's what I want to do. When I'm in front of the camera I really need someone else to call 'action' and 'cut' because I can't be in the scene.' Thinking about when I should end the scene at the same time...it's impossible.
Did you have any favorite scenes while directing?
There was a scene between Lois and Clark at the very end, and I really liked it. It wasn't the easiest scene we shot. It was really long, and it was really dramatic. There was a lot going on. I had to put Erica Durance in an uncomfortable spot. I really enjoyed working with her and giving her these tiny little nuggets; she was like a piece of putty. It was like whatever I said to her, she could do, and that was amazing to me. She had all this trust in me without holding back, and I think she's going to be extremely happy when she sees it. She's terrific in that last scene. She's really good.
What about your fight scenes in the episode?
We sort of broke my stunt double about five episodes ago, so we had to have these other guys come in, and they're hard matches. They are great at what they do but they don't match—I had to do a lot of my own stuff. I think I did every single thing that'll you'll see. It was exhausting because you're using you're brain at a pace you're not used to using at, and then you're using your body at a pace you're not used to using it at. And you're trying to talk to everyone else to answer their questions, That was challenging but I loved it.
Anything you didn't like about directing?
There really wasn't a moment that I didn't like. I don't like the board meetings. I don't like sitting in a room with people talking about what we're going to do. It's necessary evil but I'm not a big fan. It's hard not to fall asleep during those things. They just go on forever, but it was fun, and it was worth it, and hopefully I can do it again.
Can you talk about Oliver's journey for the rest of the season?
He has this Omega planted in his soul, this quote-unquote "darkness" that's inside of him. And the interesting thing is here is this guy who has dedicated his life to stopping this thing and now he's got it inside of him. His whole journey from here on out is how to get that out of his body, if that's even possible. Keep in mind at one point this guy was suicidal, so in my preparation, I was thinking that's got to be on his mind. That's one way to get rid of it. So there's that journey of will he fall back into that dark place and become this guy who is so self destructive it's sad? Or will he overcome it? Can he overcome it?
Chloe (Alison Mack) and Oliver are a fan-favorite couple. What is it about you two that works so well?
Obviously, it has a lot to do with the way it was written. I think it has just as much to do with the actors. That sounds really, really selfish but—it's not all me it's all her. Allison's got this way of working with people no matter what they give her. If you are able to give her whatever you have, what you're going to come out with is amazing. A lot of the stuff that works between Chloe and Oliver, I think it has to do with Allison and Justin. We work really well together. She's a really good actress, she's fun, and she's always in a good mood. We have a lot of chemistry in our scenes. I think because we respect the work so much and we work on it. It's important to both of us.
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