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Jason Behr Dishes On The Epic Final Season Of Supergirl And Its Legacy Of Hope - Exclusive Interview

When you think of '90s teen heartthrobs, the name Jason Behr might come to mind: He solidified his status as the original Max Evans in the first "Roswell" series and played Chris Wolfe in "Dawson's Creek" after snagging guest stints in shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "7th Heaven." He had no trouble transitioning from teen characters to adults, playing Doug, the main character in "The Grudge," and appearing in other movies such as "Happily Ever After." In 2012, he went back to his TV roots as Damien Fauntleroy in the "Prison Break" spinoff "Breakout Kings" before heading back to "Roswell, New Mexico" to take on the role of Tripp Manes.

Most recently, Behr traveled to the Phantom Zone in "Supergirl" as Kara's presumed dead father, Zor-El. Without missing a beat, Behr took over for Robert Gant, who played the role for four episodes between the first and second seasons. As fans say goodbye to "Supergirl" with the second half of the final season, everything is coming full circle, and it's nice to see Kara have her parents back. After being a hero on Earth for so long, she deserves a taste of home, and Behr was right there to step into that role.

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Jason Behr dished on the final season of "Supergirl," what it was like working with Melissa Benoist, and why Supergirl and Superman are still so important to fans generations later. He also recalled a hilarious story from the "Roswell, New Mexico" set.

Preventing Krypton's mistakes

Zor-El Showed up in the comics in the '50s. Was it daunting to take on such a beloved long-standing character? And did you draw from any previous iterations of Zor-El, or did you want to come in with a fresh lens?

I always feel when you take on the mantle of a character that is so beloved, it's really important for you to make it your own, to honor what has come before you, but to really put your own fingerprints on it. And I really just wanted to come at it from my own point of view. And I feel far beyond me, and long after I'm gone, there'll be somebody else to play the same character somewhere down the line, and it will be their job to make it their own as well.

It's so poignant that the final season of "Supergirl" has come full circle to use current events like global warming and oceanic destruction to parallel what led to the fall of Krypton and the inaction that tipped it to its breaking point. Why do you think this is such an important story to tell right now, and what can we take away from this storyline?

It's something that everybody can relate to. When you think about another planet or another world, sometimes you can be disconnected to real-life experience of it — and to put global warming and to put environmental disaster at the forefront of the destruction of Krypton, people on our planet can really identify with that. I mean, where we're at right now with fires being hotter and longer and more environmental disasters, it's something that we can really associate with.

And I was very interested when Zor-El saw how Earth is going on the same path as Krypton. He felt it was his destiny to try to make it right and to be given that chance. It's a second chance of a lifetime. And I think that doesn't happen often. Here we really need to figure out a way to change things and to work together to try to solve this problem.

Surviving the Phantom Zone

You've had some pretty intense scenes with Melissa Benoist so far. What was that experience like? And what did a typical day on set look like?

Well, it was different, because of COVID protocols, than I've ever experienced before. We didn't get a chance to hang out in each other's trailers and talk about the scene or talk about the characters. It was more through texts and through conversations on set before you do a scene.

What was nice about it was that in the beginning, it was seven episodes in the Phantom Zone, and it was all of my scenes with Melissa. So I got to know her as a person, as a parent for quite some time, which was really helpful when you're doing those emotional scenes. I was able to connect with her as a really wonderful, amazing human being. And it was really important to make those scenes really work.

An El family reunion?

Can you tease anything about what you might expect from Zor-El and the rest of the final season, and is there a chance we might get to see the full El family together?

Well, that would be amazing to see — the full El family together. I would definitely love to see that happen. I know that the big thing for Zor-El would be the conversation he might have with Alura, and that would be something that I would love to see myself.

Would you ever be willing to appear on any of the other in-universe shows, like maybe "Superman & Lois"?

Well, I think that would be awesome. Also, her cousin could always use a little visit from his uncle. Yeah, I loved playing Zor-El, and I would absolutely do that in a heartbeat. I mean, they made me a super-suit, so I definitely feel it could get some more mileage out of it.

Finding hope in the darkness

Supergirl has always been a symbol of hope, and it was such a cool choice to have Zor-El counterbalance her optimism at the beginning of the season but ultimately learn to hope again. And in the "Supergirl" and Arrowverse mythos, the 'S' actually translates to hope in Kryptonian. How do you think the symbol has helped ground the show, and why do you think fans keep coming back to characters like Supergirl time after time and generation after generation?

I think hope is such a powerful thing. I think when hope is not present, it's a powerful thing. In the beginning of the season, Zor-El had been stuck in this Phantom Zone for ... he had no idea how long it was. He was in a timeless, ageless, deathless hell where the Phantoms hollowed out and devoured him. I mean, everything that he stood for was drained and broken by the Phantoms.

So when he activated the shields on Argo City, he had no idea that it actually worked when he sent his daughter to Earth. He had no idea that it actually worked. So to see her in the Phantom Zone at that moment in episode 6.02 was very profound for him and brought back all this possibility. And there's a little kernel of hope underneath that. She represented that to him.

And as the balance tilted, where she started to get whittled down by the Phantom Zone and started getting broken down, he used them to cut her down, in turn, to help lift her up, and I thought that was a really wonderful scene.

It was a wonderfully written scene directed by David in episode six or seven, where Zor-El does lift Kara up out of that darkness, and to do that for seven episodes — to finally have a little bit of levity and humor back on Earth is really important.

The Super appeal

But to answer your question about why these kinds of characters appeal to people throughout time, I think there's always something interesting about taking something that is super or beyond what we know to experience and to humanize them to allow us to really connect with them. We want to be super, we want to be able to fly, we want to be able to do these extraordinary things, but we also need to connect with these characters. And they've been wonderfully written, and they've been the stories that have been told about the House of El throughout time. It has been interesting.

For me, as a kid, I really connected to that wonder, and just the idea of being something more — really connected to me as a child. I think it will continue to connect with fans until the end of time.

Definitely. Superman didn't turn 80 for nothing.

Carving a Super family

How do you think the bonds of found family and blood family have helped grow the final season of "Supergirl"?

Well, I think that's a very interesting question. I feel in life, your found family is extraordinarily deep, but the family that you create ... I say this to my eight-year-old son, I say, "Family is extraordinarily important, but we don't get to choose our family." Our blood family, it's just who we have as our brothers, our sisters, our mothers, our daughters. Blood family is extraordinarily important, but it's who you choose to be your family that really matters in your lifetime, and hopefully, your blood family is as close and is as connected to you as the people you choose to be your family.

Do you have a favorite scene or behind the scenes moment from the show?

Favorite scene? I would say a favorite scene to do is in this next episode, between Melissa and I, where Zor-El confesses the truth behind his apprehension about going back to Argo City. It was a really wonderful scene to shoot with her. And it really does explain why Zor-El made some of the choices that he made and why he believes so much in trying to fix and solve this problem.

Behind the scenes, there was, I think it was the first scene with all of the cast members where we all had a lot of fast snappy dialogue, and one of us, I'm not naming who, got a little case of the giggles. And it just infected every single one of us, and it was bellyaching, crying laughter for a while. And that, to me, is one of the greatest experiences.

That's amazing. Sometimes you just need to laugh, especially right now.

Yeah, especially right now. Especially after seven episodes of the Phantom Zone.

Zor-El's second chance

Do you have a favorite iteration of any of Zor-El's other onscreen or comic book iterations? Any favorite arcs of the character?

Well, I'm curious about ... in the comics, Zor-El began as this benevolent scientist who really wanted to make the world a better place, and somewhere along the line, Zor-El breaks bad, and he becomes a bad guy, and I'm always curious about what made that turn.

And also, in episode 6.08, Zor-El experiences, for the first time, these super abilities. He's able to fly, he's able to do all these things, and with that little taste ... The old adage is, "With great power comes great responsibility," but what if someone doesn't make those choices for the greater good? What if someone doesn't try to be a good human being, a good person, and always do the right thing? What if that power became like a drug, and how would that power corrupt somebody like that? Who's not just given these abilities on Earth, but he was a brilliant mind as well. How does that change things? So I was always curious about what that might look like, why Zor-El breaks bad, and then what happens when he does?

On that note, you sort of answered this a little bit, but why do you think saving Earth is so important to Zor-El?

Well, it's his second chance, the ultimate second opportunity when he sees how Earth is on the same path as Krypton. He sees it as his destiny to make things right. All these choices that he made back on Krypton that ultimately led to the demise of everything, the destruction of everything he's ever loved. He now has an opportunity to fix that, to make that right. And your ego can be blinding even with the best intentions.

What do you hope that fans will take away from the rest of the season and the show as a whole once it finishes airing?

I can answer that this way: I feel they have a lot of characters to wrap up and relationships to finish, and they are in incredible hands, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how everything turns out because I think this world is such a special world.

Back to Roswell

Zor-El isn't the first time that you've played an alien, but special effects in TV as a whole have come a long way since the late '90s when you played Max on the original "Roswell." How did the two experiences compare, and what was it like watching Nathan Dean play Max in the new series when you came on as Tripp?

It was definitely an adjustment for me because of the surreal experience of walking around a set 20 years later with all the same names on trailers and on chairs. I was just conditioned to walk to Max's trailer or to sit down on Max's chair. And when we would go back after a scene, and I would be heading towards the trailer land, I would start to walk towards Nathan's door, and I would just about open it, and, "Wait a minute, that's not me anymore."

Oh my gosh.

That's Nathan. So I don't know how many times I almost walked in on him in whatever state of undress or study or whatever he was doing, but I almost opened that door a few times.

That's so funny.

The honor of the 'S'

Is there anything else that you wanted to add about your character, your time on the show, or anything else that you have coming up?

I had an amazing time. I loved playing Zor-El. I loved the cast and the people up in Vancouver. It was an honor to put that 'S' on my chest and to play like an eight-year-old child.

Are you going to get to keep the super suit, or are they taking that?

Oh, I hope so. I know that Melissa has really spoken pretty loud and clear that she would love to keep her suit. And I think she, of all of us, deserves it.


But I wouldn't mind taking that suit with me because you never know if they decided to ask Zor-El to pop up somewhere else. It's a pretty fresh, clean, new suit.

Do they only make one of them? I would imagine they have to go through quite a bunch, especially for Melissa.

Yeah, Melissa has a bunch of different ones, she has different iterations through the series, and definitely, they have one for the double and one for her. As far as I know, they just made one for me. And I did all my own stunts, thankfully, but yeah, I only saw one Zor-El super suit.

The second half of the finals season of "Supergirl" airs Tuesday nights on the CW. Fans can catch up on any missed episodes the following day on the CW website.