INTERVIEW: The Stars Of "The Trials of Superman" from ROBERT KIRKMAN'S SECRET HISTORY OF COMICS
We got to talk with Brendan Taylor and Blaine Anderson about their upcoming portrayals of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Robert Kirkman's Secret History of Comics on AMC. Check it out...
That, however, is all about to change.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF COMICS debuted earlier this month on AMC as part of the network's Visionaries line. Spearheaded by Robert Kirkman of THE WALKING DEAD fame, the six-part documentary series focuses on the stories beyond the page, pulling back the curtain to give fans an in-depth look at the histories of creators, characters, and publishers. This Monday, November 20th, the fourth episode of the series will air, telling the story of Siegel, Shuster and Superman.
While the series is mostly told through interviews with historians and the people who lived through specific events, woven throughout are dramatizations of the stories to bring them to life and help the audience engross themselves in the lives of the key players in comics history. CBM was lucky enough to snag an exclusive interview with actors Blaine Anderson and Brendan Taylor who play Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, respectively, in THE SECRET HISTORY OF COMICS: THE TRIALS OF SUPERMAN.
Check out a clip from the episode, in which Richard Donner discusses his experience with Siegel and Shuster after SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, and continue reading for the full interview!
CBM: Can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved with the project? Did you seek it out or was it brought to you?
Blaine Anderson: Casting was in Vancouver, Canada by the fabulous duo of Kris Woz and Kara Eide. I got the part the old fashioned way - by auditioning! I didn’t initially audition for the role of Joe Shuster, I actually read for Jerry Siegel and others. Director Rory Karpf and AMC did a great job in choosing our cast and I think it worked out great!
Brendan Taylor: Yup, Kris and Kara are awesome! I’m so grateful that they brought me in! Like with Blaine, the audition came through just like any other, but I did read 5 times for the series. I’m so happy that I got to play Jerry, and the rest of the casting on the show was superb.
What was your experience with comic books prior to The Secret History of Comics? Were/Are you fans?
Blaine Anderson: I’ve been a big comic book fan all my life - ranging from Superman and Batman to Thor and The Incredible Hulk. The list goes on and on…
Brendan Taylor: I was a huge fan of the X-Men growing up, but Superman and Batman were up there, too. My walls were covered in posters, and I loved collecting trading cards. And any video game starring comic characters was a must-have!
Obviously, Superman is the most famous superhero of all time, but the episode focuses on his creators. What did you learn about Siegel & Shuster that you didn’t know before reading the script?
Blaine Anderson: I didn’t know a great amount about these two men as a kid as I didn’t really pay attention to who writes comics. I learned a great amount while diving into this character. One thing I learned about Joe was from a story by our director Rory Karpf. Shuster was outside a theatre for a premiere of something Superman-related. He was asked how he liked the show, but he told them that he hadn’t gone into the event. Either he wasn’t invited or didn’t have the money to go, but he was so pleased to see how many people showed up. He simply wanted to see people enjoy his work.
Brendan Taylor: As with Blaine, I knew a bit about these men but didn’t know too many details around the court battles. What I didn’t realize was how long these battles went on; that their struggle spanned over 50 years, and it was truly a lifelong fight for justice.
The both of you have a number of roles under your belts, but unless I’m mistaken, this is the first time you’ve each played real people. What’s the difference between playing a totally fictional person and someone who actually lived and has a legacy?
Blaine Anderson: I have played a real person before, a fraudster named Christopher Rocancourt who was a criminal fraudster! One obvious difference for me is trying to honour the person whom I’m playing. Doing my due diligence to the best of my ability to start. Being able to research video, books and real-life stories helps piece together my interpretation.
Brendan Taylor: That’s true! This is my first time playing a real person! To me, I approach playing a real person quite the same; even though there might be video evidence of how these people are, what they sound like, etc, the script deals with private moments in their lives, which you can only portray with the given circumstances of the script. Therefore, fictional or real, the truth of the character is paramount.
How involved with The Secret History of Comics is Robert Kirkman? Does he take a hands-on approach, or is he off to the sidelines?
Blaine Anderson: I can’t speak for Robert Kirkman’s specific level of involvement, but knowing how much he loves comics, I’m sure he wasn’t that far away at any given moment. He also had some pretty awesome people working with him on this project, including Rory Karpf (Director) David Alpert (producer) Bryan and Sean Furst (executive producer) Krista Kelloway (producer)
Daniel Junge (executive producer) and Jim Rapsas (supervising producer). From Skybound to AMC, Robert had a great team that put together a excellent series.
Brendan Taylor: That’s right, Robert Kirkman is a busy man - creating and producing all these shows we know and love. We didn’t get to meet him, though I’d love to someday! But to attach his name to a project like “The Secret History of Comics” obviously shows his deep knowledge of his field, and a desire for the public to know more about the roots of the comic world. So I admire him - and thank him - for making this happen!
Are there any superheroes you would be interested in playing in a film or TV adaptation, and can you tell us why you would choose that character?
Blaine Anderson: There are a few! But Mr. Sinister from the X-Men comics has always been a favourite villain of mine. When I first saw this character in the comics, he was so mysterious and not to mention, pretty intimidating.
Brendan Taylor: Hands-down: Gambit, from The X-Men. There hasn’t been an origin story yet - though I hear there is one in the works - and I think if done right, it could be really great. He’s always been my go-to hero, since I first became a fan from the X-Men Adventures cartoon from the ‘90s. He’s badass, charming, and cool, but dangerous, and straddles the moral line much like Wolverine/Logan. It would be a dream of mine to play him. Now, let me check my phone for any missed calls!
I’ve gotta ask: which incarnation of Superman is your favorite, and why?
Blaine Anderson: Well, Christopher Reeve is hands-down my favorite. “Superman” (1978) was the first actual movie I saw in theatres. His depiction of the character is unrivalled in my opinion. He had everything from the stature to good looks while exuding a quality of trust that not many people have. Not to mention his Clark Kent persona was great!
Brendan Taylor: Yup, I’d have to say Christopher Reeve’s Superman is my standard. He wasn’t unrealistic in appearance, but solid and strong. Soft-spoken and calm, he was someone you instantly respected. And yes, his Clark Kent is genuinely funny! I do like Henry Cavill too. I think he’s a great modern Superman that fits this era.
What do you hope people will take away from "The Trials of Superman"?
Blaine Anderson: Learning what I have from this great experience, I think that the stories behind iconic characters like Superman are just as intriguing as the heroes themselves. In this case, knowing the story of the creators has brought me closer to the Man of Steel.
Brendan Taylor: I think it’s important for people to pay attention to history, for the sake of intellectualism. Being well-informed of the past leads to better and deeper discussion now, and ultimately, you get to call yourself an even bigger fan.
What’s next for the two of you? Any new projects you’re excited about?
Blaine Anderson: I have a movie out called Residue on Netflix in the US. It’s a quirky neo-noir horror film where I play a doctor named John Masters. It’s a great fun movie that some have called H.P Lovecraft meets “Naked Lunch”. You can find all my latest updates on @Blaineactor on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or on BlaineActor.com
Brendan Taylor: I have several projects coming up that I’m really excited about! But I can’t talk about all of them just yet! I can mention that I’m reprising my role on E! Network’s The Arrangement, where I get to play a bad guy! I can also be seen in the next season of SyFy’s The Magicians! Several other projects coming up too, so be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @MrBrendanTaylor, and visit Brendan-Taylor.com!
ROBERT KIRKMAN'S THE SECRET HISTORY OF COMICS: THE TRIALS OF SUPERMAN airs this Monday on AMC at 10:00 EST/9:00 CDT.
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