Superhero worlds collide tonight when Lynda Carter pays a visit to Smallville (8 pm/ET on the CW). The actress became a worldwide star in 1976 when she was cast as TV's Wonder Woman, and since that show's end she has kept busy with movies-of-the-week, TV guest roles, films and theater work, including a recent run in the London production of Chicago. On Smallville she plays Moira Sullivan, the mysterious mother of Allison Mack's Chloe. Though viewers learned two seasons ago that Moira was in a mental institution, "Obviously it was a much bigger secret than that," says executive producer Al Gough. "Moira is meteor-infected" and has the power to mentally control other so-called "meteor freaks" — those who have gained special abilities after being exposed to radioactive kryptonite fragments. TV Guide lassoed Carter from her home outside of Washington, D.C., to get the scoop.
TV Guide: This wasn't the first time Smallville approached you about a role. What was it about this particular part that won you over?
Lynda Carter: You get offered things quite often and sometimes you'll get a script for a show that you like, but you're not crazy about the character. Or, you've played the heroine role a million times when you've been around as long as I have. But the fact that this character was formerly psychotic, that she was in a catatonic state, there's a wonderful character arc there. Moira is a bit of a soap opera in one person: love, loss, magic meteorites. So I told them I would love to do it.
TV Guide: Do you watch Smallville?
Carter: I like the show — it's got a beautiful look, it's well done, and it's well thought out. I don't follow it [every week] but my daughter asked me to get her one of the DVDs for Christmas last year, so I was pretty familiar with what was happening.
TV Guide: How was your experience on the set?
Carter: You're working with a group of people that have been together for a long time, so they're a family, but it was a very welcoming group. There was no tension or divas, and it's not always that way. I particularly enjoyed working with the director, Terrence O'Hara, who I thought was really great. And everyone really loves Allison. She was great to work with, a real pro. I had actually brought a blonde wig so that we'd look a little bit more like each other. We looked so great together, but I think they really wanted the dark hair. [Laughs]
TV Guide: I think the fans will be very happy to see you on the show, whatever your hair color is. Chloe is a huge fan favorite, so they're going to love finding out more about her backstory.
Carter: Well, I'm happy to hear that I have helped close at least part of the circle of what the deal was for Chloe.
TV Guide: How does Moira wind up back in Chloe's life?
Carter: Honey, I cannot give that away. No way, you have to watch it. If [the producers] want to tell you, it's fine. [TV Guide asked, and here's what executive producer Al Gough had to say: "Lex Luthor is using Chloe's mom to help track down some missing meteor freaks. Moira has been in a semicomatose state and Lex has found something to bring her out of that. She doesn't want to do Lex's bidding, she wants to reconnect with Chloe. We have some really terrific mother-daughter reunion scenes with them."]
TV Guide: What was it like stepping back into the world of superheroes?
Carter: Comfortable. Because the main thing is buying into it. You have to buy into it.
TV Guide: Obviously you've done a lot of other roles, but it's nice to see someone who isn't running away from their most iconic character.
Carter: A long time ago I made the choice to embrace it and enjoy what it is people are trying to say to me, and understand that it's not really about me. It's about the work I've done and that I made [Wonder Woman/Diana Prince] a likable character.
TV Guide: So you really don't mind the Wonder Woman legacy?
Carter: Like every other actor, you would like to be recognized for all the other work that you do, but c'est la vie! So I don't dwell on it. I try to live in the present. I know one thing I would like, and that's for that baton to be passed. I know that they've been trying to make a Wonder Woman movie for a long time, and I really hope that — whoever takes this role — it is a huge success. Not to diminish what I did, because it's not about that, but it's the kind of role that needs to go forward. It needs new juice. But I hope they keep the integrity of the character, her goodness. She's not just about superpowers. She's an in-depth human being. She just loves people, and she really wants to do the right thing.
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