Flash! (Ah-ahhhhh!) Talk about being back with a bang. Sci Fi Channel's revisiting of Flash Gordon gave the network boffo numbers with last week's premiere. As the series continues Fridays at 8 pm/ET, TVGuide.com grabbed a hold of Flash himself, Smallville alum Eric Johnson, to share a peek into his out-of-this-world new world.
TVGuide.com: How did you go about acquainting yourself with Flash, who has been embodied by comic strips, cheesy movies....?
Eric Johnson: There have been a lot of different incarnations of him — he's 75 years old — so I just got on the Internet. My wife found some good stuff for me and ordered some DVDs.... Basically it was a Flash crash course. I absorbed as much of it as I could before we got into the thick of things.
TVGuide.com: What's your sci-fi fare of choice?
Johnson: I was obviously [a] Star Wars [fan] and all that was a big deal, and I was a Batman fan growing up.... And through my involvement with Smallville, I got well acquainted with the Superman mythos and all of that. From the get-go, I was a big fan of the adventures of Star Wars.
TVGuide.com: Is the plan here for Flash to keep transporting to and fro Mongo?
Johnson: Pretty much. It's not just him going through, it's things coming through as well.
TVGuide.com: Sort of a baddie-of-the-week thing?
Johnson: Yeah. There are some stand-alone episodes we do that are very much that, and then there are more-serialized episodes. You can't do Flash Gordon without having cliff-hanger endings, and we'll be very much in keeping with that.
TVGuide.com: Will Ming the Merciless (John Ralston) himself ever set foot on Earth?
Johnson: I don't know, but that'd be pretty cool!
TVGuide.com: You have numerous babes hanging around you in the pilot. Aside from Dale Arden (Gina Holden), which ones are keepers? Who can we expect to stick around?
Johnson: Aura will be around, and so is that alien bounty hunter we meet at the end [of the pilot]. We're going to learn all sorts of fun things about her. They all stick around, which is far more entertaining. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Ming's henchman, Rankol: how is that actor (Jonathan Walker) getting around like that?
Johnson: Magnets. It's amazing how they do it. I don't know how they do it, but he gets on that thing and he controls it. We're like, "How does he do that?" They keep pretty quiet [about the exact mechanics]. I think that's where a lot of the budget went! [Laughs] But I'm a huge fan of the character now.
TVGuide.com: What's the coolest thing you've gotten to do thus far as Flash?
Johnson: The whole chase sequence in the pilot was fun, climbing up the back of that RV, because I wasn't supposed to do it, and then I just went and did it. [Laughs] And we just shot a duel to the death with these crazy Mongo weapons. It's very reminiscent of Star Trek.
TVGuide.com: [Humming Star Trek fight theme]
Johnson: Yeah, we were singing that all night! That was very cool, to do a scene like that. We shot it over six hours in a gravel pit.
TVGuide.com: Were they, like, big Q-Tip-type weapons with blades on the end?
Johnson: No, it's this long linked-chain thing with a spike on the end. It was cool. Oh, and there is poison on the end of the spike.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of Star Trek, you worked with William Shatner on that Everest miniseries, right?
Johnson: I did, I did. I didn't have any scenes with him, but we were having lunch one day talking about something, and he was like, "I couldn't... believe it. That guy was... amazing" — in that Shatner way. I was like, "Oh my god, I just got Shat on!"
TVGuide.com: What was it like being part of Smallville's early days? [Johnson played jock Whitney Fordman, a nemesis of Clark's.]
Johnson: When we started, it was like the anticipation of Christmas. We all knew that the show had what it would take to succeed and go on for many years. So when we finally premiered and it exceeded all [the network's] expectations, it was very, very cool. The show has such a loyal fan base of people who really care about the show. Granted, due to my character, there are some people who really don't like me, but.... [Laughs] I'm very proud to have been a part of that.
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