In Season 2 of The CW series Supergirl, the life of Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), aka Supergirl, is changing. She finds herself teaming up with her cousin, Clark Kent/Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), to stop a new threat in National City, a job change at CatCo will have her working for a new boss (Ian Gomez), a Luthor (Katie McGrath) has come to town in an attempt to rehabilitate the family name, another pod has come crashing to Earth and who’s inside of it is still a mystery, and Cadmus is really stepping things up. And on top of all that, it’s never easy for a superhero to find the right balance between saving the world and having a personal life.
Collider was recently invited to participate in a conference call (along with a handful of other press outlets) to promote the new season of the hit show. During the interview, actress Melissa Benoist talked about what she’s learned about Supergirl, how the move from CBS to The CW has changed things, why the introduction of Superman was a natural progression for the story they’re telling, how ridiculously awesome it is to work alongside other superheroes, Mon-El’s (Chris Wood) arrival, getting a new boss at CatCo, the role of Cadmus, working with Lynda Carter, the four-show cross-over, and the upcoming musical episode. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Question: Now that you’ve been with this character for awhile, what’s something that you know about Supergirl now that you’re able to use in your performance, that you didn’t know when you were first starting with her?
MELISSA BENOIST: That’s a good question. In a lot of respects, I’m still learning a lot about her. Last season, we spent a lot of time with her just trying to figure out how to be a hero, in the first place, and where she stood on that. But, I think what I’ve discovered the most about her is her fortitude and just how strong she really is. Every time I get a new script and I read what she’s doing, I know she’s Kryptonian and I know she’s the girl of steel, but I’m always astonished by how much strength of character she has. This character never, ever gives up. There’s always a way out. So, I think I do carry that forward into every new episode. Things do get dark and things get sticky, but I like the fact that she’s trying to outsmart her way from bad situations.
Kara has dealt with a lot of loss, and already did before even deciding to become a hero, let alone what she’s had to deal with since then. How does that loss affect her, going forward? Will it change her disposition, at all?
BENOIST: The trait of Kara’s that I’ve always admired is how she chooses to find the positive in anything. She’s really overcome all of that loss. Sure, last season, she experienced even more of it, but I do think it’s really ingrained in her to keep moving forward. She keeps fighting for what’s right and what’s good in the world, regardless of any kind of pain or loss that she’s experienced. That’s one of the constants about her. Even when she’s shaken to the core, she knows she has to turn it around to survive. She’s a survivor.
Did switching networks from CBS to The CW change the way you make the show, in any way?
BENOIST: In some ways more than others. Now, we’re in a different country, so that’s quite a big change. But, it’s nice. I think we feel a lot closer than we did. Last year, in L.A., we would go and live our own lives, outside of work. This year, we’re all up here (in Vancouver), as a unit. It’s really solidified our relationship, as a cast. In the day to day, with the storylines, we’re all really happy with the scripts and there are really exciting new stories. Every character is afforded a lot of change. There’s a lot to really dig into, and everybody is really excited about it and fulfilled by it. Little small things have changed and we’ve had to move to a new city, but it’s all good and I think it’s all for the best. The show is really better off for it.
Some fans have been worried that introducing Superman would take the focus away from Supergirl, on her own show. Was that something that you worried about, and how do you feel the show handled it?
BENOIST: I wasn’t worried about it. I thought it was the natural progression of our story. We spent last season really solidifying how she wanted to approach being Supergirl and being a hero. He’s her only living family member, and I think that’s kind of a necessary relationship to explore, for both characters. I believe it really rewarded us, as a cast. You not only get to see how amazing the relationship between Kal-El and Kara is, but he has relationships with everyone on the show. He has history with a lot of them, and some of them he meets for the first time and it’s hilarious, like with Winn (Jeremy Jordan). It’s only going to benefit the show, and Tyler Hoechlin is the man to do it. He’s perfect in the role, I think.
In the premiere, Supergirl says that she’s dreamed of teaming up with Superman. What was it like the first time you and Tyler Hoechlin worked together, in your superhero suits? Does it ever feel like just another day at work, or is that always ridiculously awesome?
BENOIST: Whenever you’re with someone else in another superhero suit, it always feels ridiculously awesome. I felt that way with Grant [Gustin], and definitely felt that way with Tyler. Being with Tyler felt familial, and it felt pretty amazing. There’s not a lot of people that get to do this, and that’s pretty special. What these character represent is so cool. We were like giddy kids, super excited about it. Some days, it does feel like another day at the office, when you’re in the Supergirl suit for four days in a row. But outside and flying with Superman, yeah, that’s cool.
Now that you actually have someone that it playing Superman in the world of your show, how does that change the way you think about the character, as an actor? When you have to make reference of him, do you think about Tyler Hoechlin?
BENOIST: Before it was just this ghostly entity, in the shadows. We did reference him quite a bit, but there wasn’t anything personal to latch onto. I had to be a little more in my imagination about it. Now, of course, I think of Tyler, every time we reference him. He’s done such a wonderful job bringing the character to life. He kind of is Superman, as Tyler. I do think it really is nice to have that gauge now. It feels closer. It feels like their relationship is a little more solidified, especially for Kara. When I play her, I get to feel that now.
What can you say about Mon-El (Chris Wood), and how he will relate to Kara?
BENOIST: Well, he’s fallen to Earth in a pod, just like Kara’s. It’s pretty mysterious. They’re not quite sure where he’s come from or how he got to Earth, and if he came from the Phantom Zone or somewhere else. I can tell you that he has a huge role to play in the season, and he’s going to change everyone’s lives. He’s a huge part of the massive amounts of changes that are happening in Season 2.
Cat (Calista Flockhart) has always been hard on Kara, but it’s also been pretty clear that that’s because she sees a lot of potential in her. So, how challenging will it be for Kara to really step out from behind that, this season, and have a new boss that might not be as impressed by her? How will that new dynamic be different?
BENOIST: That will be one of her biggest challenges yet. There was a comfort to that relationship with Cat. They were growing together, and Cat really pushed her to always do her best. I think she really thrived on that guidance. And now, it’s her on her own, making her own success. That’s such a joy to play. Ian Gomez, who plays Snapper Carr, the new boss, is fantastic. He’s headstrong and really sharp-witted, and he’s a great edition to the CatCo world. It doesn’t fill the void of Cat Grant for Kara, whatsoever, because he doesn’t like Kara or Supergirl. It really poses a huge obstacle for her. I think it’s allowing for her to discover this new heroic side of herself, where she has to use her wits. She’s fighting for justice through words and through investigating. I think it’s going to make her grow in a different way, but it’s not necessarily something Kara wants. I don’t think she likes change.
Now that Kara has decided to take on the role of reporter at CatCo, how will her day to day life change?
BENOIST: It definitely forces her to get out of the office quite a bit, but it’s a bit more of a juggle. She still has her position at the DEO, and she’s trying to figure out her personal life. I honestly don’t know how she does her day to day. Thank goodness she has super speed and can fly because it’s not humanly possible. But it will heighten her senses, too. It’s fun to play that that is a huge part of her now. She might be involved in something that she thinks is a good story, and now she has the freedom to try to pursue that. It gives her a bigger purpose, outside of being Supergirl. I think it’s important to have a personal life, a career, and the heroics. They all have their own purpose in her life.
Is Snapper Carr going to be a mentor for Kara, or is he more of a terrifying boss?
BENOIST: In Whiplash, Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is someone who pushes people past their limits, and Snapper has those qualities about him. Not as bad, but he definitely is a really, really tough critic and a tough boss to work for. I think that makes you a mentor to someone, when you really challenge them that much. So, in a way, he’s a mentor, but maybe reluctantly so.
With Cadmus becoming more of a threat this season, when will we get to see Kara discover just what that’s all about?
BENOIST: Cadmus are pretty prevalent, right away, and they’re causing a lot of trouble, from the get-go in Season 2. They went from being this villainous outside threat to now being very vocal that they want to mess with her life even more. And they’re really scary! It’s a really ominous threat. You’ll see quite a bit of them, and it’s really interesting.
Whenever you add a Luthor to the mix, it usually doesn’t mean anything good for the House of El. What can you say about how Kara and Lena interact, throughout the season?
BENOIST: Lena (Katie McGrath) has come to National City to rebrand her brother’s company, and to rebrand it in the name of good. She wants to change the world for the better. That being said, obviously it’s hard for anyone in the House of El to trust a Luthor, and Clark and Kara are both very aware of that. But Kara and Lena’s relationship is a very interesting one, and it’s one that we’re still figuring out.
Kara obviously takes her hero status very seriously. With all that’s currently going on in the world and with where we’re at, as a culture, do you feel like there’s any evolution in her message?
BENOIST: I think that women’s rights is very prominent in politics right now, as it should be. A lot of women everywhere are speaking out and are really fighting for change and equality. I hope that our show has even a little bit to do with that, even if it’s just influencing the younger generation to realize that, when they’re older, they can have all the things that they want and they are strong enough. We should all be on an equal playing field. I learned a lot about that, from being around Lynda Carter. I do think that, in any circumstance, until it’s not a conversation anymore and it’s just a given that there are more female characters leading their own shows, every show counts. It does make for change. Lynda was one of the pioneers of that, and she was doing it on her own. She was the only female superhero, at that time, and it’s pretty impressive, what she did and what she went through.
What was it like to work with Lynda Carter, as a fellow actor?
BENOIST: Everyone was so excited for her to come. The best way to describe it is that she’s exactly what you would expect her to be like. She is truly wonderful. She’s really great to be around, and she’s full of sound advice and amazing stories. She’s lived such a cool, interesting life. It was a really unique experience that this woman had, and I loved working with her. I think everyone on the show did, too. And she looks amazing!
What’s it like to be a part of the four show cross-over, with Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, and get to interact with all of those characters? Is there anyone you were most excited to do a scene with?
BENOIST: I was really excited for Kara to interact with all of them. They’re all so different and singular and unique that I think she could have funny interactions with all of them. Of course, I love whenever she’s around The Flash. It’s so fun. I think the interaction with Arrow brings some comedy and interesting antics. I was excited for her to meet Canary and Atom, and just everyone, really. We’ve been shooting it, and we’re in the middle of filming that. It’s been so much fun. I can’t even tell you how much fun it’s been. It’s a crazy feeling to be surrounded by that many people in superhero outfits.
In the premiere episode, there’s a line about Gotham. Now that there’s a four-part cross-over coming up later on, do you hope that Kara could get to visit Gotham and meet Batman someday?
BENOIST: I don’t know if that’s ever even possible, but how funny would that be. I think it’s always funny to see someone like Kara or someone like Barry Allen meet characters that are so dark and brooding with a lot of demons. Their sunny disposition juxtaposed with that is hilarious. So, yeah, I would love that, but I don’t know if that’s possible.
We know that you’re doing a musical episode with The Flash. Is there anything you can tease about that?
BENOIST: I wish I could tease something about it, but I know just about as much as you do. I know it’s happening and I know that I’m excited, but that’s about it.
Supergirl airs on Monday nights on The CW.