After 10 super seasons, Smallville flies off into the sunset next Friday (May 13, 8/7c, The CW). To make the two-hour event even more epic, fan fave — and Breaking In scene stealer — Michael Rosenbaum is back as Lex Luthor to mess with Clark one last time and to give fans what they've been asking since he left the show three years ago. In this exclusive interview, he runs down what we should expect from Lex... and the show's very last episode.
TV Guide Magazine: OK, what took so damn long?
Rosenbaum: It just never quite clicked, and I felt like I had accomplished what I needed to. I'm so flattered that the fans wanted me back, but I was busy. I was doing other things, working on me, growing my hair. [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: How did that go for ya?
Rosenbaum: [Laughs] I got a new agent about a year ago and I said that I wanted to take a general meeting with every executive in town, because if you just tell them my name, they will associate me with Smallville. Let me go in there and charm them. And that's what I've been doing, trying to reestablish who I am.
TV Guide Magazine: So why come back now?
Rosenbaum: I was about to do [Breaking In] and realized that if I don't do this now, it's never gonna happen. And the fans will never forgive me. I owed them. And you know, I wanted to do it.
TV Guide Magazine: And how was it?
Rosenbaum: I am so thankful that I did this. It was probably one of the best days of filming I have ever had. I didn't want it to end.
TV Guide Magazine: Like old home week, huh?
Rosenbaum: People, former crew members — who weren't even working on the show anymore — came to see me. It was like a big family, their arms were open wide and welcoming. And I was so nervous. I've said this before, but I was like "Oh my God, can I do this? It's been three years. I have hair now...is the bald cap gonna work?" Everything came together, the bald cap worked, the scenes I did were really fun and good and layered, and Tom was great. It was like I never left. And that is true...I know people sugarcoat things, but I would tell you if someone was an a--hole.
TV Guide Magazine: Sounds awesome.
Rosenbaum: This was actually one of the best experiences. I wish it had worked out earlier, but this was clearly the right time. I left, then I came back for one last time. And I think fans will really like the episode. And I will never have to hear, "Why didn't you go back?" I think that would haunt me.
TV Guide Magazine: What does Lex do?
Rosenbaum: Hmmm...his plan of cloning spare parts worked, only there's a big twist. And there is a first-time ever scene with my sister Tess [Cassidy Freeman]. I also have a great scene with Clark [Tom Welling] that will launch them each into their destinies as adversaries.
TV Guide Magazine: This was your first time meeting Cassidy? We love her.
Rosenbaum: Yeah. And she is great! I was like, attracted to her! We were working on a scene and firing back-and-forth, and people were saying how it was like we'd been working together for years! I remember three years ago, her agent, who was my old agent, called and said, "Hey would you talk to Cassidy? She's replacing you." And I said, "First of all, nobody replaces me." [Laughs] I said, "She's not a replacement, she's a new character...and yes, I will talk to her." And when she asked for advice, I just told her to go up there, they're all amazing and that she was gonna love it. Three years later, we're finally meeting face-to-face.
TV Guide Magazine: This scene with Tom...is this the roots of President Lex Luthor?
Rosenbaum: You know, I'm not gonna answer that. [Laughs] You're just gonna have to wait.
TV Guide Magazine: Hey, had to try. Congrats on Breaking In, by the way.
Rosenbaum: Aww, thanks. You're too kind. I adore this freaking cast. Talk about support! They always make fun of me, because when we're in a take, sometimes I'll say, "Hey guys, I'm gonna do a series," which means I'm gonna do a line three times in a row, in different ways, change it up a little. So now a lot of the cast will be like, "I'm gonna do a Rosenbaum!" [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: Bret Harrison says you're amazing at improvising.
Rosenbaum: You know, that is very nice. Bill Murray is amazing at improv. I am just...that is very nice. I'm working at it. Bret Harrison and my grandmother are very great.
TV Guide Magazine: Well, you're killing it as Dutch on the show. Are you more comfortable doing comedy?
Rosenbaum: I have to say yeah. You know, I'm quirky...I like to mix it up. I love playing this douchey character with frosted tips and Uggs.
TV Guide Magazine: What episode do you remember most fondly from your years on Smallville?
Rosenbaum: The one with the old lady, I think it was in "Hourglass" where I become the president in the future. The one with the foreshadowing, I touch the daisies and they turn into skeletons and blood rains from the sky. I always liked that, I remember it vividly, working with [director] Greg Beeman, who is one of my closest friends.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you have a favorite moment?
Rosenbaum: Wow, there's so many. I think one of my favorites was the finale, being with the crew again, working with Tom one last time. It was certainly emotional.