Annette O'Toole's last-minute casting as Clark Kent's mom Martha on the WB's promising new drama Smallville brings her career full circle: The 47-year-old actress played Kent's high-school crush Lana Lang in 1983's Superman III. Jokes O'Toole to TV Guide Online: "Maybe I'll be Lois Lane's grandmother next."
All kidding aside, the red-haired beauty — whose recent small-screen credits include the USA Network series The Huntress and CBS's Nash Bridges — admits there are far worse things than being forever linked to such a popular franchise. "I love Superman," she confesses. "As a kid, I read all of the comic books. I was always drawn to it. And when I was Lana Lang, that was a huge thing for me." Still, she adds that one dream remains unfulfilled: "I didn't get to fly... I really wanted to be able to fly. I'm still not flying [in Smallville], but I'm still with Superman."
O'Toole can take solace in the fact that no one will be taking flight in this Man of Steele update — which focuses on Superman's pre-airborne teen years. (Playing Martha's better half is Dukes of Hazard alum John Schneider.) "It's such a different take on the story," explains the Texas native, who in real life is married to Michael McKean (Laverne & Shirley). "It's kind of the only way I think you could do it today. It's much more modern and much more sci-fi. [Clark] is an alien after all; you have to go in that direction. He is E.T."
With Smallville — which debuts Oct. 16 at 9 pm/ET — occupying 50 percent of the WB's new post-Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel Tuesday lineup (Gilmore Girls kicks off the night at 8 pm/ET), it will take something out of this world to fill the void left by Sarah Michelle Gellar and co. (Buffy is headed to UPN while Angel moves to Monday.) But O'Toole refuses to worry about such things."I really, really try to keep myself away from that, because what can I do about it?" she offers. "All it does is make me nervous. I go and do my work and hope for the best. The ratings will do whatever they do. I have no investment in that. It's just too painful. Then you have to be committed to looking at it every week and worrying about it. That's somebody else's job."