Deciding to follow in the footsteps of Noel Neill and Margot Kidder (and a pre-Housewives Teri Hatcher, for that matter) could not have been easy for Erica Durance, who joined WB's Smallville last season as Lois Lane. Nonetheless, the Canuck took the risk and has since settled into the role nicely, offering up an edgy take on the woman who will one day fancy herself an intrepid reporter and call herself Mrs. Superman. TVGuide.com leaped over a tall building at the chance to chat up the beauty about Clark Kent's romantic options, the tips she earned by stripping and the none-too-insignificant fact that her Lois has yet to show any journalistic leanings.
TVGuide.com: I imagine the mood on the set has to be good as Smallville racks up "super" ratings in its new Thursday time slot.
Erica: Durance: Yeah, we're always surprised year in and year out by what happens. Partially what's contributed to the ratings is the new time slot. Yes, there is some strong competition to go up against, but on Thursday everything is a little different. You have your sitcoms; there is a variety of shows. On Wednesday we were up against Lost and anything going up against that [faces a big hurdle]. Also spicing things up is the direction in which they have taken the story lines, having the characters grow up and therefore have to deal with more of the actual story of Superman. Clark has graduated and is dealing with some other things, and so are the other characters, and that pulls people into the show.
TVGuide.com: Obviously, Clark has his share of possible love interests. In your opinion, what does Lois offer that Lana or Chloe do not?
Durance: We haven't actually gotten into any mudslinging or cat fights, as it were, but.... The other two girls, for the most part, so far have both had these crushes on Clark. Of course he has this "young love"/first love thing with Lana, when in comes this person who's quite sacrilegious about this whole idea of Clark and how wonderful he is; Lois cuts right through that. She just doesn't put up with any crap from anyone, whether it's from a good-looking farm boy or.... But there's this redeeming side to her, too, which Clark occasionally gets to see — when the chips are down, she will go in and risk her life for the people she loves. Regardless of the fact that she's a little irritating and kind of likes to take jabs at him, she does have that other side to her.
TVGuide.com: Will we ever see Lois start dabbling in news reporting? Fans are concerned that one day she will become some "insta-journalism whiz."
Durance: Al and Miles [Millar] know this folklore very well, and they, of course, want to be sensitive to the people out there who love it as well, so I think that they're trying to find a nice, subtle way of bringing that in. They don't let me know what's going on really, but I do know that there occasionally are hints of Lois helping Chloe out with that sort of thing. That said, I don't think Lois can really get into it for a little while. She's still trying to find out who she is and learning to accept who she is, and until she finds that personal grounding, she can't go out and be that balls-to-the-wall kind of gal.
TVGuide.com: Are you up to speed on the current Superman comic-book series? At least one of them does tremendous justice to you as a young, sexy, voluptuous Lois.
Durance: To be honest with you, I haven't seen the latest, but if that's what's out there, I'll enjoy it, sure! Why not? [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Here is where you regale me with stories of how you prepped for the episode where Lois went undercover as a stripper.
Durance: [Laughs] Well, at first I was quite concerned. I thought, "OK, where are we going with this...?"
TVGuide.com: And, "How many carbs have I been taking in?"
Durance: Yes, there was a lot of working out, but I do that anyway! When they told me the scenario, it was more of a "Lois falling down and making a fool of herself" thing. I had this huge wipeout, which was totally Lois, on the first tape day, but it didn't get put into the actual episode, which was a bit unfortunate. She didn't really know what she was doing for me, the funny side of it helped sell me on the fact that she was working undercover stripping. Having also taken a bunch of courses to help me figure out how to do it, I have to say that exotic dancing is a lot harder than it looks. [Laughs] People think, "Oh, you just swing around a pole." No, it's very difficult — and very painful when you don't do it properly and instead smack into the pole.
TVGuide.com: What kind of tips did you merit? I think I saw flustered Clark slip Lois a 20.
Durance: Oh, yeah. He was scared to do that — I think it frightened him having that particular body part in his face. [Laughs] But I took it anyway!
TVGuide.com: There has been much buzz about the announced 100th episode's death. Is it safe to say that it won't be Lois, since we see her in the Superman movies?
Durance: The only thing that could happen to Lois is if she decided to leave Smallville for a long time, but I haven't gotten wind of that yet, so... I think she's safe for a while, which means that I have my job for a while, which is nice.
TVGuide.com: Do you know who is being killed off?
Durance: Do I know? Yes.
TVGuide.com: But you're sworn to all kinds and flavors of secrecy, eh?
Durance: Yes, I am, unfortunately. If I do [blab], Lois will make a quick trip to Europe! [Laughs] So I'm not going to say anything.
TVGuide.com: Will it be worth the buzz, though?
Durance: I believe people will be very, very impressed. I think they've done a very, very good job with it.
TVGuide.com: There is speculation that WB is releasing false spoilers for after that episode, to mislead fans into thinking they know who's still alive — like Chloe, for example.
Durance: I've traveled around and done conventions, and it's a really big deal — people have all their theories and try to get it out of you — so I'm not surprised if the guys at the top are trying to throw people off.
TVGuide.com: What's the latest on more Smallville seasons?
Durance: Given the fact that in our fifth year our ratings are still quite good, I've heard that there is possibly another season. Being an actor, you're usually the last person to really know, but it seems very positive.
TVGuide.com: Your father is a truck driver, your mother a librarian. What have you learned from each of them?
Durance: They have a very strong work ethic — I've never seen two people work harder in my life — and also have a strict code of honor and integrity, and when it comes down to it, your most important asset in life is your family. I've been blessed.
TVGuide.com: Could you hijack an 18-wheeler if you had to?
Durance: I think I could! I wouldn't be afraid of it, that's for sure.
TVGuide.com: And are you an expert on the Dewey decimal system?
Durance: Not as much as my mother would like! But I still love reading.
TVGuide.com: Who are your favorite authors?
Durance: There are modern books that I've been reading, like Harry Potter, but I also read the girly stuff. I love Jane Austen and Ellen Montgomery.
TVGuide.com: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
TVGuide.com: Perhaps an interesting tattoo in an interesting place?
Durance: No, I wish! [Laughs] I think maybe you should make one up.
TVGuide.com: You do not want me to do that.
Durance: Yeah, you're probably right. Geez, see how boring I am? People would be surprised by how normal a life I lead.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any other acting projects in the works?
Durance: Right now I'm just focusing on Smallville. There's something surprising for you! People think there are so many things coming down the pike for me, but not yet! I need to work a little bit harder.
TVGuide.com: No slasher movie where you get chased for 90 minutes?
Durance: I could do that, but I already did one — House of the Dead, one of the "classics"! [Laughs]