Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Swamp Thing Star Reflects On His Alopecia Journey - Exclusive

At the core of what makes Swamp Thing a compelling character is that his appearance impacts the way he is perceived in an often ironic manner. Swamp Thing is so named because he's this large, hulking, green beast in the swamp — he's scary to look at. But as was the common, purple prose refrain in the original Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson run of Swamp Thing comics, the real monster is often humankind.

Derek Mears plays Swamp Thing in the DC Universe TV series about the character, and Looper got the chance to ask him just what it means to play someone who appears monstrous, but whose intentions are not only benign, but helpful. Mears has some experience playing monstrous characters: he's been an Orion on Star Trek, he's been a Predator, and he's even been Jason Voorhees in the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot starring Supernatural's Jared Padalecki.

Mears is aware that, much like the characters he plays, that his appearance has an impact on how he is perceived. In one particular way, he finds the humanity in creatures like Swamp Thing by investigating his own feelings of being judged based on his alopecia.

Accepting alopecia was the key to finding success in Hollywood

"For myself, one of the things that helped me tie into him was I grew up with alopecia," says Mears. "Alopecia, for people who don't know, is a disorder where your hair falls out and it fell out when I was very young, like 11 years old. It wasn't cool to be bald and a white kid and people would think, 'Oh, you're an Aryan,' or 'You have cancer.' I'm not any of those. And I was always different."

Much like Swamp Thing is presumed a monster, people drew assumptions about Mears based on his appearance, even as a kid. The experience of that may have been traumatic, but it also helped Mears eventually realize that accepting who he is could be the key to finding success as an actor.

"When I moved to Los Angeles, I realized what I thought was my biggest negative aspect turned out to be my most positive," says Mears. "So I learned once I embraced it, I'm going to be anybody I want to be."

Swamp Thing is airing now on the CW.