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Superman & Lois' Adam Rayner On Playing Tyler Hoechlin's Brother, And Tal-Rho's Possible Redemption - Exclusive Interview

The CW's "Superman & Lois" has been hard at work redefining DC Comics' most iconic couple in the long-awaited "Supergirl" spinoff. Tyler Hoechlin flew into fans' hearts in the second season of "Supergirl," with viewers immediately demanding that the actor score his own series. Well, it took a few years, but fans finally got their wish — and the show immediately set itself apart from the iterations of Supes that came before.

One such shakeup comes in the form of Morgan Edge — who we now know to be Superman's long-lost Kryptonian half-brother Tal-Rho. Say what? Adam Rayner snagged the role of this dastardly villain, who initially seems to be just another billionaire jerk at the start of the series. However, as the season continues, his Kryptonian colors emerge. A reimagined villain was a brave move for the fledgling series, but it worked seamlessly — preventing the show from making the repetitive mistakes of many Superman projects that recycle the same plotlines we've seen countless times.

Before winning his "Superman & Lois" role, Rayner appeared in a slew of shows, including "Mistresses," "Hawthorne," "Dragon Age: Redemption," and "Tyrant." The actor also starred in films like "The Saint" and "Hunted."

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Adam Rayner opened up about what it was like working with Tyler Hoechlin, what it feels like to don a Kryptonian supersuit, whether he thinks Tal-Rho is capable of redemption, and which actors and characters he'd like to work with on the series.

Duking it out with the Man of Steel

You have some pretty epic battle scenes with Superman. What has it been like duking it out with Tyler Hoechlin's Man of Steel?

He's a little younger than me, so I'd come out of it a bit sorer than him, but it was good fun. Whether we're flying through the air or down on the ground, it's great fun being a part of that world and doing all those scenes with him.

And most of your scenes together have been pretty intense. But do you have any fun stories from set that you've had with him or any of the other cast members?

I'm trying to think ... Nothing immediately springs to mind. I always have a great time with Tyler. He's such a nice guy. He leads the show so well, and we always have a good laugh. Mostly, I'm just abusing him for being so fit while I squeeze into my muscle suit, trying to look as good as him — but obviously totally failing. I spent a lot of time taking that out on him, basically for being so young and fit. He gets a lot of abuse for that from me.

Possible redemption for Tal?

Speaking of your supersuit, you have a really cool distorted version of Superman's supersuit with your own crest on it. How did it feel putting that on for the first time and sort of representing a part of this world?

It's quite a feeling. It does make you feel different because suddenly you're looking in the mirror, and you're like, "Oh my goodness. I wish I looked like this every day. It's fantastic." You feel terribly powerful and also part of this iconic history. So yes, it's something I wish everyone could experience putting on a made-to-measure professionally constructed Kryptonian supersuit. I highly recommend it.

It doesn't seem like Tal-Rho is inherently evil, and it feels like he's looking for unwavering loyalty and acceptance, which he wants without earning. And he's done some pretty awful things in search of a family, but do you think that there's room for a redemption arc for him? And is that something that you'd like to see, or would you rather him go full villain?

I would definitely love to see that. I think you're absolutely right. Those elements do exist in him: the capacity for good, the capacity for selflessness, and doing the right thing. I think that is in there. He's just had a very twisted upbringing — has been devoted to a mission of disruption essentially for his whole life. [With that] gone, he's not actively trying to reestablish Krypton on a ... I certainly think that we could see another side of him, and I would definitely be interested in playing that. I think it would be great to see him and his brother standing side by side. Whether it would last, that's another question, but having seen him at his worst, it would be fun to see him at his best.

Discovering the edge to Morgan Edge

Did you know that you were gearing up to be Superman's long-lost brother when you got the role, or is that something they revealed to you down the line? How did you find out, and what was your reaction?

I didn't know, actually. When I took the job, I thought I was Morgan Edge — the shady billionaire. It was revealed to me in a conversation with Todd [Helbing] fairly early on, and I was thrilled. It made the role — it made the job — it made everything about it more interesting and more exciting. Both the fact that Morgan Edge would become someone else [and] was pretending to be someone else the whole time, which always makes playing any character more interesting — and then, of course, the fact that I was going to be the brother of this iconic character. Yeah, I was good.

What are your favorite things about Tyler Hoechlin's version of Superman and Clark, and why do you think he's so compelling in this role?

Well, I think he has a fundamental decency, a kind of all-American [wholesomeness]. He's effortlessly heroic. As someone who's tried to play nice guy lead roles before, it's sometimes difficult to be interesting. He somehow is always interesting despite being the good guy, despite being the nice guy, because he's able to be himself on purpose in that role, which is the key to making any character believable and interesting. Yeah, it's definitely the hardest part [of] the show. Playing villains and stuff is much easier than playing the hero. I think he does it with great skill and makes it look easy.

Riffing off Superman

Did any of his character and acting choices help inform the direction that you took with Tal-Rho?

That's a good question. Well, the great thing about Tyler's performance as Superman is that it's easy with these incredibly powerful characters to play like nothing is a problem. Nothing ever affects you because you are so powerful and you're so strong, and you're so certain of everything. So anything that anyone ever does to you or says to you is no problem. It doesn't affect you. You're totally invulnerable. 

He allowed himself to be affected emotionally and physically. It wasn't when I punched him [that] it didn't hurt. He allowed himself to be hurt physically and emotionally in those scenes. He didn't try and play the tough guy, trying to play invulnerable the whole time, so it meant that when I made a choice, it felt like that choice mattered. I'd worked with actors where that doesn't feel the case. Whatever you do, they've already decided what they're going to do. Tyler is in the moment, looking you in the eye and ready to respond truthfully to what you do. That was a joyful [experience].

Not your father's Morgan Edge

Tal-Rho is a really exciting introduction to the Arrowverse because he's unique to "Superman & Lois." He's not someone that we've seen time and time again through comics and movies, which is really refreshing. How has that allowed you to make the character your own, and what are some of the things that you'd love for him to do in the future?

Morgan Edge has been played before, but this is such a reimagining of the whole setup, [so] that wasn't really an issue and [it was] great that it was a brand new character [because] I could just look at the work on the page and think about what was true for me without worrying about, "Yeah, but in the comics, he's like this." I can't do that. I had pretty much carte blanche to do what I liked with him. That was very exciting.

In the future, I'd love to continue to explore his human side. We've seen him as this Kryptonian trying to dominate the world and take over and reestablish Krypton. We know he has this human side and this human need: a desire for family, a desire for relationships, all those kinds of things. I'd be interested if he was allowed to explore those desires more and those things that he's buried so far in his life because he's been buried under the weight of this Kryptonian mission he was on. He's free of all that now — all that's over. So who is he? Who is he when his life's work or mission his father set up for him, when that's all stripped away? Who is he really underneath?

Lois Lane is a formidable force

You had quite a few scenes with Lois before the big Kryptonian reveal. What was it like working with Bitsie [Tulloch], and is she someone you'd like to have more scenes with?

Oh, definitely. The real sparks flew between those two characters. It was great fun to play. They're terrific characters. We had a lot of fun doing those scenes. Whilst I was thrilled to go and be Superman's antagonist with Tal-Rho, I was slightly sad to no longer be Lois Lane's antagonist as Morgan Edge. I would love to see those two on screen again.

Are there any "Superman" villains or heroes that you'd love to have Tal-Rho interact with or any existing characters from the rest of the Arrowverse?

I think it'd be fun to get Supergirl on the show, wouldn't it? Why not? Those guys have been in her show. She should be in our show. And, of course, the shadow of Lex Luther will always hang over any "Superman" story. Given every time we change shows, we change into a slightly different dimension in the multiverse. Who knows who the true Lex Luther could be in the world of "Superman & Lois?" Maybe Tal and Kal could team up and take him on.

The sibling rivalry to end all sibling rivalry

Now that Jor-El is destroyed, it seems like there's a lot that Tal-Rho can teach Superman about Krypton and its culture. Do you think there's room for that to happen in the future? Or do you think that their sibling relationship is beyond saving?

No, I think there is something to that. You're absolutely right. Tal is sort of the resident Kryptonian technology expert now. With all of the eradicated stuff and everything, he knows more about that than Superman, and that knowledge may come in use. 

I think now that his mission is over and he's languishing in prison, he is more open to assisting his brother. And of course, he's always drawn to, even if he doesn't want to admit it, he's drawn to the opportunities that would allow him to have a relationship with his brother. So yeah, I think he could definitely be of service in terms of Kryptionian matters.

And what have been your favorite scenes to shoot so far?

Well, I really enjoyed the bigger confrontation that the audience are about to see in episode two without giving too much away. A very meaningful and heart-wrenching conversation for Tal. I think of all of the scenes, my favorite scene has definitely been the one where the Kryptonian mission is stripped away, and we see the guy who has been oppressed by his father, rejected by his mother, hasn't got a family, doesn't have anyone. 

We see the huge hurt and frustration that had built up in him as a result of his experiences. He had a very different life than his brother, which has left a great scar inside him in the scenes. I shot a couple with Tyler last year, and we'll hopefully be revealing those scars when he opens up, and we see the human side.

Only an icon for grandpa Superman

Can you tease anything about the upcoming villain arcs in the show?

I don't know everything. It's the truth. I don't actually get sent all the scripts. I only really know what Tal knows. There are multiple threads, and they're getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and it'll take everything that Superman can summon to deal with, but I don't know the details. I'm sorry.

Is there an actor or director you've never worked with that you'd love to work with in general or to see come on the show?

Oh my goodness. What? In the whole...

In the whole world.

Who should we get on the show? In the whole world, who should we get on the show? I think we need to get in Anthony Hopkins to be Superman's grandfather. The hologram of Jor-El's father is played by Anthony Hopkins. That's what we need.

The second season of "Superman & Lois" airs Tuesdays on The CW, with episodes streaming on the CW website and app the following day.