[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Tuesday's midseason premiere of Supergirl. Read at your own risk!]
Zor-El's (Jason Behr) time on Earth in Tuesday's midseason premiere of Supergirl did not go as planned. In trying to help his daughter, Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), and her host planet of Earth battle destructive ocean pollution in "Welcome Back, Kara!" Zor-El ended up creating Oscar, the faulty trash monster. And if his daughter hadn't yet recovered enough from her time in the Phantom Zone, and wasn't backed by such excellent Superfriends, Oscar's rewritten code would have turned him into a very dangerous, and likely atomic, super-bomb.
In other words, Kara's father's second chance at facing some very Krypton-like problems on Earth didn't turn out the way he'd hoped. But he still has his daughter, whom he got to know as an adult (albeit in the Phantom Zone), and his future awaits in Argo City.
As Supergirl heads into its final stretch, this episode wrapped up Behr's arc on The CW Arrowverse series. Behr spoke with TV Guide about Zor-El's brief time on Earth, including that "Uncle Archie"/Clark Kent-like moment at CatCo. The actor also offered up some advice for the Superfriends about a certain Fifth Dimensional imp and contemplated what could happen when Zor-El reunites with Alura Zor-El in Argo City.
Congratulations on wrapping up your run on Supergirl. How does it feel?
Jason Behr: Thank you. It feels amazing. It feels wonderful. I loved my time. I love this cast. I love that crew. It was really wonderful, incredible experience.
And to have played such a pivotal role — you got to be Kara's bio dad, which is amazing.
Behr: Yeah. When they first approached me about this, I was like, "I don't know if I'm old enough to play her dad." (Laughs.) And then, [executive producer] Robert Rovner is the one that I've been talking to quite a bit. … He told me, "Oh, no. You're going to be in a Phantom Zone for 40 years, so there's no time, there's no age, so it makes sense." But yeah, it was a wonderful experience. And to be able to do seven episodes of mostly me and Melissa [Benoist] really allowed for us to connect and to really get to know each other really quickly. And Melissa's an amazing human being. I absolutely adore her. And it was a real pleasure to do this with her.
So, tell me about getting to do Zor-El's little "Uncle Archie" guise at CatCo. You got to have your own kind of Clark Kent moment in the episode.
Behr: That was a lot of fun for me. I always love playing a character within a character, and Zor-El is definitely a fish out of water on Earth. And yet, he's a very powerful fish out of water. The superpowers that come with that yellow sun — there's a little bit of a learning curve. So it was a lot of fun to play, you know, my best rendition of Chris Reeve as Clark Kent. It was nowhere on par with his, but I did give it the old college try.
Let's talk about the problem that Zor-El created in this episode, and the whole Oscar debacle, and how you feel about that. Looking at Zor-El from your perspective, do you have sympathy for him? Do you think he ran into that situation with blinders on?
Behr: I think hubris and ego are very powerful things that can often blind someone's best intentions. When Zor-El was back on Krypton, the climate problem was something that both he and his brother, Jor-El, were trying to fix a lot with Lara and Alura — they were trying to fix this problem. And it's very complicated. And even though he thought he was doing the right thing on Krypton, he was heading straight for disaster because he wasn't really thinking clearly, and he was really relying on his own ego and hubris. So, when he saw that Earth was on the same path as Krypton, he saw this as his destiny to make things right, to correct those past mistakes, to make good for himself, for his daughter, for Alura. How often do you get a second chance like that — to make right something of that magnitude? … He was very driven and very focused, very passionate, borderline obsessed to make it right. But, in that obsession, and that desire to do the right thing, that hubris and that ego kept him blind, and he just headed for the same problems that he ran into in the past. I felt like he wanted to do the right thing. He really did.
Since we don't get to see the Alura/Zor-El reunion, did you create your own idea of how the reunion went and what they're up to now?
Behr: Oh, for sure. I thought it would be so fascinating to see what that conversation actually looks like. "You spent more time on Earth and away from me? Hmm…" I'm not sure how that would go well with her. Not to mention, the people of Argo City. How would they welcome him back into society? Like, it's somebody who meant well, but ultimately didn't do the right thing. And it was a disaster. So how would Argo City itself and the citizens of that — it's basically a planet unto itself — how would they accept him, if they did it all? But what that conversation might look like between Zor-El and Alura after all these years would be pretty dynamic, to say the least.
After that conversation, did you see them living together again, or running on opposite parties?
Behr: I would hope that she would forgive him, and I would hope she would welcome him back because I do believe — in his heart — he had the best intentions. It would be more interesting to me to see if Zor-El and Alura did come back together as a common force for good, how the rest of society would interact with them, and the socioeconomic and political climate that might exist there — how they would fit in or how they wouldn't fit in.
If you could give advice to the Superfriends, what would you tell them about Nyxly? We know from the trailers Nyxly is coming back, and obviously in the Phantom Zone, Zor-El had some experiences with her that didn't really go so well.
Behr: From Zor-El's perspective, I would say, "Don't trust her." (Laughs.) I would say, "I smell a rat!" But, from an actor's point of view, I think what Peta [Sergeant] was doing with Nyxly was really interesting, and I think there's more to Nyxly than might be just on the surface. So I'm curious as to where that goes. I hadn't read any of the scripts beyond my own, so I don't know what's going [to happen], but I can definitely tell you that I will be watching.
You've said you would be down to land on Zor-El's nephew's lawn. I'm curious if anyone from Superman & Lois has reached out, and if you're still open to visiting that part of the Arrowverse?
Behr: I'm absolutely open to it. I love Zor-El, and I love playing him, and they did make me a fresh, clean suit, so I think there's more mileage in that. But going back to Argo City and what that might look like — I'm curious, because in the comic, Zor-El starts off one way. He starts off as this benevolent scientist who's trying to fix this extraordinary problem, and ultimately, somewhere along the line, along that journey, he breaks bad, and he becomes this malevolent force. So I'm curious as to what that might look like and why he did that, and then what the end result is. Because when you really think about the myths and legends of these Kryptonians on Earth, they are just normal people with these extraordinary abilities. So they make them godlike, and they make them super-powered. But what sets you apart [if] a bunch of Kryptonians came down to Earth? What would set you apart or give you the advantage in that? I do believe that his brilliant mind would be a definite advantage to the rest of them. I mean yes, he can go train to be a ninja. That might work, but I think the mind is seen as a very powerful thing, and to be a super-powered brilliant person is a very powerful force indeed.
You can only imagine Lex wanting to get his hands on that in some sort of way.
Behr: Yeah, exactly. And I also think, with being on Earth for a limited amount of time but yet tasting what those abilities are, it could be that that power is like the ultimate drug. So what does an addict do with the ultimate power as your addiction? What happens to you?
Supergirl airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.