Erica Durance will forever be Lois Lane. The Canadian actress came out of nowhere to snag the iconic role of Lois Lane on the popular CW drama Smallville a few years back and hasn’t looked back since. Durance’s Lois Lane is not your parents’ Lois Lane either – Smallville fans can attest to that. What started as a part-time role, Lois Lane is now a regular and integral character on Smallville. Durance is currently in the middle of Smallville’s seventh season and took the time to speak with us last week about her acting career and her time on Smallville.
Below you will find both the written transcript and full mp3 audio of the interview.
I guess I’ll start off by going back a few years. Can you just tell us how you ended up in the role of Lois Lane on Smallville?
It was basically a little bit of a lottery, as everything is in this business, but I had been up here working in Vancouver for a long time — this is where I live — doing guest star roles, and just trying to make my way into the business. There was a rumor that this character was going to be coming on to Smallville, so my manager was telling me you need to get ready, we’re gonna suss it out and we’re going to find an audition. My husband is also my acting coach, so we got all trained up for it. I really didn’t think much about it, because at this point I was not very enamored with the industry and the way things went, and I said okay, well I’ll go in. I was a little bit begrudging about it because by that time I was ready for a break. True to form, that ended up being the one that I got. It just has been a real whirlwind since then. It started out as a four episode arc, and then they’re like there’s going to be a couple more, and a couple more, and so far it’s been 13 every season, and now this is my fourth year in.
How much pressure was there for you, stepping into such an iconic character?
Well, there was huge pressure. There’s pressure for anyone doing any role, but I think you hit it when you said it right there, it’s a very beloved character. Everyone has their specific idea of who Lois Lane is for them, and you have your overall blueprint, but then you have to try to make it your own. That’s the only way to try to stay truthful to what you’re doing. In Smallville we had a little bit of extra leeway because we were just trying to play Lois younger, so I was able to make mistakes as Lois would make mistakes, just kind of finding her way in Smallville and finding out who she is. In the past few years we’ve kind of been introduced to Lois, her quirkiness, and the repartee she has with Clark, which is really fun. Then slowly, as the seasons have gone by, she’s starting to find out that she really likes this journalism thing. She’s getting to go out and do more and more, which of course I’m enjoying.
You joined a cast that had been together for a few seasons. Was it hard integrating yourself into that cast, especially at the beginning of your run when you were doing episodes here and there?
It was fun. Most people expect that there’s going to be all sorts of chaos and such on the set, but this set is really, really cool. Everybody is very down to earth, so I was just able to find my way. I don’t ever push it to be something that it’s not. You just kind of go in, get to know people, then as things progress it gets better and better. Right from the start all of them were very open, very nice, and welcoming, so it was an easy fit for me.
No matter what you do for the rest of your career, for a lot of people you’ll always be Lois Lane. What’s your experience been like so far with the intense comic book crowd?
I have had many different types of experiences, ranging from people who absolutely loved what I’m doing, and it’s been more so that way as people have really warmed to the idea. The folks that are really specific about where they want to see Lois, exactly how she should be, and she shouldn’t even be in Smallville at this point in time, and very upset about the whole timeline. You just have to take it all with a grain of salt and be very appreciative that people are so interested in the first place, and that’s why your show gets to stay on. People are engaged and they care what happens, so all you can do as an actor is go out there, do your best with what you’re given, try to be really honest with it, then throw it out there. You get all types of reactions, and I’ve been to conventions in Europe and conventions all over the United States, so I’ve gotten quite a little pattern from many different people. For the most part people are really loving it, and I think that’s why Smallville has stayed around, because people really love that Superman story and they’re really engaged in it.
Is there anything about working on Smallville that you can tell us that a diehard fan might be surprised to hear?
I don’t know if there’s surprises, but people are always wanting a little bit of dirt, like do the girls not get along, or is there infighting on set. They’d be quite surprised to know that we actually do get along quite well, and go out for dinner and have those great times. If anybody has ever had a chance to be at a convention where they meet Michael Rosenbaum, they get to realize there’s quite a difference between the character that he plays on set and his off camera, which is very very wild and constantly on the move. He likes to play lots of practical jokes and he’s a comedian to the nth degree. You see this Lex character who is really uber dramatic, and he’s an actor, he does a good job of it of course. But as soon as that camera goes off he’s off on some kind of riff and he’s telling some joke, so there’s a lot of laughs on the set. I think that’s what keeps it fresh, and keeps it so it’s an enjoyable show to watch too. There isn’t that angst that sometimes you get on TV shows.
Do you have a favorite episode that you’ve filmed for Smallville?
Each year kind of has a little highlight for me. What I love about Lois is that she’s always doing something different, so in one I’ll really be investigating like crazy, and in the other one I’ll be fighting someone. I really like “Arrow” in the sense that I was always having to fight, and they were drowning me, even though I’m scared of that kind of thing. I’m kind of one of those people that likes to try to face up to some of those things that freak me out, and water freaks me out. I also liked…gosh, you do so many that you forget the exact names. The funny thing is that you’ll play this on your website and the diehard fans will be like “it was that episode!” It was “Combat” which I quite enjoyed, and that was where I was fighting that girl in the cage, and I had to fight Clark. This year I’ve had a couple of good ones. I just finished one where I was being emotionally held hostage by one of the bad guys of the week, so I really had to be the reporter. As long as I’m keeping in there and it’s busy and intense, I usually like it.
FHM has their top 100 sexiest women in the world every year. In 2005 you were number 63, in 2006 you were number 38, and this year you’re number 20. Can you tell us your key to incrementally getting sexier every year?
I don’t know what the key is. Maybe it’s the idea that I’m doing more and involved in more, so people know me more, and that starts to be part of it. With age comes more beauty because you become more relaxed in yourself. I was laughing with my husband the other day, because one of our friends had come up and said “Now, there’s all this talk about you and all your facial surgeries to become sexier and get higher on these lists.” I laughed so hard, my husband and I had the greatest laugh about it. I often don’t read those things on the internet, because there’s too much negativity usually involved in that. But I would have to say these folks don’t know me too well to think that I’ve done rhinoplasty and all those things. Besides the fact that I don’t like the idea of being in surgery and going under, I have these freakish ideas that you’d be awake during surgery and it totally freaks me out. But also, ya know, a lot happens in a decade, and these people are on there going she’s gotten her entire jaw done, and her nose done, and her eyes done, and liposuction, and I thought “Man, all my hours in the gym.” In the gym, on the treadmill, that’s where that stuff comes from. This is speaking from a woman’s point of view, when you get older, and I’m talking about being 20 to 29, your face completely changes. So, I would like to say to those people that it is natural, and it is hard work, sweat, and having to eat a lot of broccoli.
What kind of projects would you like to do in the future? Are there any actresses whose careers you would like to emulate?
So many, for a lot of different reasons. I think the gals that I really look up to, and there’s so many so I don’t just want to say one or two, though I will anyways. I really like Ashley Judd, I love Sandra Bullock, I love Angelina Jolie, and I love Cate Blanchett. Anything that she does I just sit back and feel completely inadequate. The thing I love about these women is that they’ve all had different journeys and different pasts, they don’t apologize for it, and they all pick something that they feel will challenge them at the time. Of course I don’t have a window to their soul, but they do seem fearless, and they always want to pick something that is really interesting to them and not go along necessarily with what everybody else thinks that they should do. They just do it, and they don’t make apologies for it, so I’d love at some point to be able to have some of those opportunities. That takes a lot of time, and it takes a lot of hard work, and these are ladies that have been working hard for a lot of years to be able to choose those scripts. I hope that someday I’m able to grow into even a portion of the types of actresses they are. They’re all so independent.
Do you have any projects coming up outside of Smallville that you’d like to talk about?
Right now everything is not quite solidified, so I don’t want to go into too much, but I’ve been looking at a couple of different scripts. When I know a little bit more, then I’ll go into it.
-Interview Conducted by Oscar Dahl
(Image courtesy of The CW)
Also check out BuddyTV’s exclusive interview of Smallville‘s Kristin Kreuk and Allison Mack.