He's "the greatest hero you've never heard of." Unless you're a fan of DC Comics mythos, you probably aren't familiar with Booster Gold, a secondary character whose popularity is mainly confined to fanboy (and girl) circles. But after this week's episode of Smallville, non-comics fans are likely to be joining the Gold rush. Played with charming enthusiasm by guest star Eric Martsolf, Booster Gold is a fame-seeking pretty boy who seems as interested in publicity and corporate sponsorships as he is fighting crime. His mysterious arrival in Metropolis coincides with Clark (Tom Welling) struggling to adopt a more mild-mannered personality when not on superhero duty. TV Guide Magazine talked to Martsolf — currently steaming up afternoon TV as boozy, screwed up Brady Black on the NBC soap Days of Our Lives — about his own path to Smallville glory.
TV Guide Magazine: In the small world of Hollywood, Lindsay Hartley — the wife of Smallville's Justin Hartley — has played your romantic costar on both Passions and Days of Our Lives. Were the Hartleys connected to you getting this role?
Lindsey's been my leading lady for like nine years. I knew her before Justin was married to her. That was the first phone call that I made when this audition came across my desk. I called Hartley and said, "What do you know about this Booster thing?" And Justin was like, "What are you talking about? I was hoping to get you up on the episode that I was directing." He had no idea about Booster, so Justin did not get me the job so to speak. I think I earned this one all by myself.
TV Guide Magazine: Sorry, I wasn't insinuating that you hadn't...
Oh, I thought about it. [Laughs] I thought. "Is my buddy doing a favor?"
TV Guide Magazine: What brings Booster Gold to Smallville?
First of all, the episode is written by [DC Comics chief creative officer] Geoff Johns, who is a comic-book god. What he does so well is take real moral issues and life lessons and intertwines it into an awesome comic-book story. And essentially what this episode is about is style versus substance. You have the epitome of style and glitz and self-promotion in Booster Gold, versus Clark Kent, who prefers to remain in the shadows as the Blur. And once you put these two guys together it's a really interesting rivalry. Booster Gold is a glory-seeking showboat from the future. The episode takes place in Booster's very early stages where he's at his conceited best, where he believes he can do whatever he wants. He's gonna stay for the photo op and bask in the glory of his heroic efforts — which is exactly what Clark is trying to avoid right now. Clark wants to stand in the back and not be a glory hound. They are completely opposites of one another.
TV Guide Magazine: Another DC Comics favorite, Blue Beetle, is also part of this episode, too.
Right, and that's another thread story that Geoff Johns throws in there, that historic friendship between the Blue Beetle Ted Kord and Booster Gold. It's wonderful how he marries the two stories together. It all makes sense in the end. It's rich in comic book history, but it's also a vehicle for Clark to start to embrace the marketability of Superman and what he could potentially be. I think the episode also serves as a lesson in moderation. [Laughs] Clark needs a little more acceptance of the style and the branding of what he could do and Booster could use a little less of it. It's interesting how Clark Kent delivers that to him.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you read comics? Were you familiar with this character before you got this role?
All I know is ran around in Incredible Hulk Underoos when I was younger, so that's a pretty early start. I love comic books, I've seen all the movies. I was actually unfamiliar with Booster Gold and I was so fortunate to hear that he's a member of the Justice League and he has a rich, rich history.
TV Guide Magazine: How was it working with Tom Welling, who also directed this episode?
I had never met Tom before and with five minutes of shaking his hand I felt like I grew up with the guy. We both have family roots in Michigan, so we talked about that. We had some really good chemistry and we met eye to eye on who the character was and what he should be, that he's misunderstood. It was a great collaboration. Tom is tireless. He would stay up 'til all hours of the night to get the shot that he wanted.
TV Guide Magazine: It sounds like a Booster Gold spinoff series would be fun.
I think the Warner Bros. would be crazy not to entertain it. [Laughs] I'm waiting for The Adventures of Booster Gold to come to fruition. It's interesting because that always goes through your mind: How can this guy come back? Being from the future he could fly around to any time period and get into trouble, so it opens up some possibilities for a series. Anything can happen in the world of superheroes. I wouldn't be surprised if Booster Gold showed up on my soap opera!
TV Guide Magazine: Which leads right into my next question: How do you compare the fantastical worlds of Smallville and Salem?
I think the two genres have more similarities than you think. I think the biggest difference would be that Booster Gold is clothed most of the time and Brady Black of Days of Our Lives rarely has any clothes on!
Smallville airs Fridays at 8/7c on The CW.