On the heels of Dean Cain's guest spot last month, another actor with ties to the Man of Steel mythos lands in Smallville (8 pm/ET, CW) tonight when 1984's big-screen Supergirl, Helen Slater, begins a two-episode arc as Clark's Kryptonian mom, Lara.
"You know how people love this kind of stuff," enthuses Slater, adding that we first meet a pregnant Lara in Superlore-tweaking flashbacks set on her doomed home planet. "After learning that Krypton is going to be destroyed, I go through a portal to Smallville to see where my baby will be raised... because [her husband] Jor-El has already been to Earth and picked the Kents to be Clark's family."
In a passing-of-the-torch touch, Supermom makes the trip with her niece Kara, better known now, of course, as Supergirl. And it's a good thing, too, because what the two ladies learn in the past may be Clark's only hope for a future after someone else from his bloodline shows up in what Slater describes as an "intense, highly stylized episode" next week. But before then, we had to ask Slater a few more questions about her ties to the superhero world and what she thought of her own time in the tights.
TVGuide.com: This is a big deal for Superman fans.
Slater: I know! This is very fun. I went to Metropolis in Illinois this year — you know how they do that Superman festival every year? And there were so many Smallville fans who were saying to me, just before I knew I was doing this, "Is there any way you might ever be on Smallville?" I guess one of the actresses was supposed to be there — I think it was Erica [Durance, who plays Lois], but she had something come up — so Smallville was on everybody's mind. When I booked this, a friend of mine said, "You're going back to your roots!"
TVGuide.com: What do you think of Supergirl now? I mean, that was your first big role, right?
Slater: It was. You know, I was 18 years old when I got the part. I had freshly graduated from a performing-arts high school, and for me, it was just such an incredible experience to go live in England for a year and be a part of filmmaking... and I, of course, had no idea what that was about.
TVGuide.com: That must have been insane!
Slater: The whole thing was pretty astonishing. [Laughs] I am very, very grateful for that experience. Even though I know the film wasn't as well received and there are things with the storyline that I think could have been different... I don't know. [Laughs] It's interesting. I met a bunch of comic-book writers at the Metropolis convention and there was such an interesting discussion about the story of Supergirl and trying to get it right. It can be a challenge, because you don't want it to be the same as the Superman story.
TVGuide.com: In retrospect, it does have a certain level of camp appeal.
Slater: Right, but they could have done much more! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: How did Smallville approach you with this role?
Slater: All I knew is that I got a call asking if I would be interested in playing — I forget how they put it — either Supergirl's aunt or Superman's mother. One way or the other, I was definitely interested. I think the show is fantastic. It's shot so beautifully and the actors are wonderful.
TVGuide.com: What is with this character?
Slater: It's really interesting. It's such a great storyline they've come up with. My husband, Jor-El, and his brother Zor-El are in a rivalry for me. And I end up marrying Jor-El.... We're Kal-El's parents. At the time that I get pregnant — this is the Smallville invention, although I think there is a pretty rigorous clearance process with DC — [we learn of Krypton's fate]. So when I'm seen, it's me visiting the Kent farm and the house to see where Clark will grow up, and Kara [Laura Vandervoort] is there with me.
TVGuide.com: Will we see Annette O'Toole or John Schneider?
Slater: No, it's just me and Kara in this flashback. Then you find out that the evil brother Zor-El is this mad scientist who (Spoiler alert) has figured out how to replicate my DNA in this crystal.
TVGuide.com: How many episodes is this?
Slater: It's only two, but I know! It's like mini-movies!
TVGuide.com: Fans are going to eat this up.
Slater: I think it's very fun. I didn't know much about the Smallville history, but now that they're seven seasons in, it must be so much fun for them to do stuff like this.
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