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Superman & Lois' Alex Garfin On Playing Tyler Hoechlin's Son, Being A Vigilante, And The Future - Exclusive Interview

This interview contains major spoilers for "Superman & Lois" Episode 2.09.

"Superman & Lois" may be named after the most iconic couple in comic book history, but the series is just as much about carrying on the next generation of heroes as it is highlighting Supes (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois (Bitsie Tulloch). Alex Garfin plays Clark Kent and Lois Lane's son, Jordan Kent, while Jordan Elsass plays his brother, Jonathan Kent. While Jordan inherited his father's physical Kryptonian powers, Jordan takes after his mother as a human, but just because they can't lift a truck doesn't mean they don't have power: their humanity. 

In Episode 2.09, fans get to see Garfin dive into his character's powers as a hoodie-wearing vigilante in his father's absence. Although this is Garfin's first major TV role, he guest starred on " Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" as a child, later winning the voice acting role of Linus in "The Peanuts Movie" and appearing in episodes of "New Amsterdam" and "Alisters." 

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Garfin talked about what it's like playing Tyler Hoechlin's TV son, why Hoechlin is the perfect Superman, and what kind of shenanigans Bitsie Tulloch gets up to onset. He also revealed what it's been like diving into his powers and teased where the season is headed next after the show's upcoming break. 

Becoming a vigilante

Episode 2.09 is really your time to shine. Jordan is diving deep into the vigilante pool and getting a chance to save people and get into the thick of it. So how do you think Superman's absence has fueled his newfound heroism, and what has it been like to start developing and using Jordan's powers on screen?

Firstly, it's his not knowing whether or not his father will come back, and [his], for the first time, being in the [know] on why his father's missing — that affects him so deeply and [matures him] so quickly as well. It was one of the first things they talked about with the director and the producer that wrote it: How do we convey this newfound maturity that Jordan has, to the fact that he doesn't think his father's around anymore? 

It's an interesting thing when someone has gone missing and when you don't know they'll be okay. We've all been in that situation when we have a loved one [and] we don't exactly know if they're going to make it through something. It's scary, and you start to imagine your life without them, and you start imagining what you will have to do to pick up the slack. That's what Jordan does here. He starts to pick up the slack.

What has it been like developing those powers on screen?

Oh man. Developing powers on screen is a mixed up bag of confusion. It's really fun. You don't exactly know by watching it how silly it looks when you're doing it. You're really jolting your head forward for something like laser eyes or for ice breaths, you stand there with your chest out, but you suck in so that the VFX looks correct. It's absolutely ridiculous. It's so much fun though. It's absolutely worth it, watching some behind the scenes stuff to know how it works.

We've actually gotten a couple of early cuts, and I have such a newfound respect and admiration for what these guys do behind the scenes, making that all look so gorgeous in the final result.

They make the stupidest, silliest motion turn into the craziest, most awesome thing you've ever seen.

Superman or Superdad?

You have a great on- and offscreen role model with Tyler Hoechlin playing Superman. What are some of the biggest things that you've learned from him about acting or life in general, and has he ever given you advice on anything?

The biggest thing I've ever learned from Mr. Tyler Hoechlin himself is probably about work ethic. He is too humble to tell you himself, but he would be doing these incredibly long set days every day. He played both leads of the show, and [he's] now also the main villain. He'd be working every day, and he would still manage to have two hours to go to the gym. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, we'd see him walking in there. It's a sheer amount of dedication that this guy brings to this role, and he understands the weight of playing Superman in a way that I am so happy to witness and learn from.

What have been some of your favorite scenes with Tyler? Has there ever been a moment where his performance really allowed or encouraged you to shine or maybe do something different in a scene than what you had planned?

The magic of Tyler Hoechlin is not even in the crazy, deep emotional scenes, even though he absolutely is amazing at them. It's always in the Clark stuff. It's his ability to have fun on screen. I see him come up with a little idea ... I believe it was in [Season 2, Episode 2], where Jonathan doesn't listen to him, but then all of a sudden, Candice says the exact same thing: "Listen to him." He still has his hand up in the air in the background, and it's so funny. It's really in those scenes [where you see the] creativity that he brings to it. I feel like I learn a lot from him.

The Superman "It" factor

I've always said that usually, an actor who plays Superman either does Clark better, or they do Superman better. My favorite thing about Hoechlin is that he just does both so well, and we haven't seen that in a long time.

No, we really haven't seen someone absolutely nail Clark and Superman since [Christopher] Reeve, and really, Tyler, not watching people, he said that was his strategy, right? He said he never wanted to see any Superman. He doesn't want to watch any Superman until this is all over. Then, he will watch it all to understand what everyone's been talking about this whole time. He brings a new light to the role. He brings himself to the role, and he brings a volume of experience going all the way back to "Road to Perdition" when he was a kid working with, what, Tom Hanks and Paul Newman at 14, you've got to be kidding me. How do you really go up from there? That's the problem.

I've heard from some of the cast that you all have a lot of fun in between takes. Do you have any fun outtakes that happened during filming, or any favorite moments with Tyler or the rest of the cast when cameras weren't rolling?

Oh, absolutely. Jordan Elsass and I are best friends in real life, so we spend every day together. We are always screwing around together. There are plenty of times in which the two of us are on set, and something ridiculous happens when we both start laughing. Also, Bitsie [Tulloch] is the clumsiest ... she's the smartest person you'll ever meet, but sometimes she says the craziest, stupidest thing, and she's so clumsy, and it's hilarious. We're always doing one thing or another, or someone's stomach growls, and everyone starts laughing. It's really a set conducive to fun, which adds to the show in a nice way. We don't have to try for lightheartedness a lot. We have it, snd when we want to get deep, it gets deep.

A brotherly power struggle

Are you glad that you play the brother with powers, or would you rather be a human? Is it a painful process doing some of those VFX things, and what did it feel like to fly for the first time?

As for [if I would] rather [be] playing the brother with powers or a person with powers, it's a whole new load of responsibility, because you're taking these various ethereal ideas that the VFX people will make into reality. Before then, it's this ethereal idea and trying to ground it any way you can. The show tried that a lot, and the show does that a lot. When you don't have powers, it's easier to have a more grounded, more classic acting school experience. Sometimes ... I'm thinking how much easier that would've been, but I am thankful for having powers.

Doing stuff like fighting, I've been training now for fighting for a year and a half. I have the best trainer ever, this guy named Kirk Jaques, and being able to learn film fighting, learning how to get up on the wire for flying, it's been a very long and sometimes gruesome process. It's something I'm very happy to do, and it's something I spend three, four days a week doing. Also, when you have powers, you have to look a little bigger. I've been hitting the gym. I've been doing the keto diet ... I'm from New York. I never thought I'd go Hollywood like this.

I know Jordan doesn't want Jonathan to get powers, but is that something you'd like to see happen or do you like being the only Kent brother with powers?

I don't think it's a matter of me being the only Kent brother with powers, right? I do really love Jonathan's character, [and] the rest of the fandom, I believe, loves Jonathan's character. Part of that is [because] he is an extraordinary person in this quite extraordinary family. I don't want him to get any sort of George Harrison syndrome of him being amazing, surrounded by these two other guys that are doing absolutely incredible things, but I don't think he will. This show built itself on groundedness. The writers are so good at it, and I don't know if giving him powers could take away from his humanity in a way.

Yeah, I like the contrast there.

Right? It's nice to have ordinary people and then crazy people, and I'm a crazy person in real life, so I need some ordinary people to ground me.

Carrying on the next generation of Superman

There must be a huge weight that comes with playing Superman's son, especially one with powers. So is it ever nerve-wracking to carry on the next generation of Superman? And do you and Jordan ever talk about the significance of that?

Oh man, yeah. There's definitely a weight in being the next generation of Superman. It's as old as this modern American culture that we have. It was birthed in [the] second World War. Jordan and I certainly talk about it plenty. The fact that we're making history here, it's this new chapter of this very long story, and right now, it seems to be a very successful chapter as well, which is an absolute blessing. It's easy to let it get to your head. Now, two years in, I'm finding out that you can't let it get to your head. At the end of the day, you're playing a character, you want to say true to character, and you want to stay true to the broader story. I'm sure the writers are feeling the weight as well, though.

At the end of the episode, we get a Bizarro version of Jonathan. What was it like seeing your onscreen brother go bad boy? And would you like the opportunity to play a Bizarro version of Jordan?

I would love an opportunity to play a Bizarro version of Jordan. I would go crazy. I would put on eyeshadow. It would be an absolute blast to play a different character, although I did get that experience last year with Zeta-Rho. He was the big bad of last season. He took over my soul last year, and that was a lot of fun, but that was very much playing possessed — that was the thing we were going for. We were going for very inhuman movements, [and] everything has to feel really off. 

It would be interesting playing a completely different person, [the same] person, but grown up differently in that Bizarro world. I think Jordan Elsass loved playing Jon-El. I know his favorite actor [was] Heath Ledger, [and Elsass] idolizes his performance in "The Dark Knight." [Elsass] getting to play a villain was something I really enjoyed seeing because he really enjoyed it.

Even superheroes have teen angst

Things aren't going very well with Sarah after she breaks up with Jordan. Do you think they'll be able to work past their problems, or do you think they're done for at least a while? Would you rather see Jordan work things out with her or do you want to see him single for a while?

In regards to Sarah and Jordan's future, they are two very different people, and they're coming from two very different places. Sometimes, that works very well and sometimes that compliments each other. We've been seeing it cause all sorts of miscommunication. Jordan's problems are very different from Sarah's problems, and Jordan can't really talk to Sarah about those problems. That is something that, no matter what, was going to come to a head. We all saw that from a mile away. Both of them need time to figure out their own personal lives before they start depending on each other again because that's how teenage relationships are.

I was coming out of one when I started filming this. You want to go all head in. You want to give your whole self to this person because it's this new thing that you can do, and you [end up] in teenage heartbreak.

Jordan and the Joker

You have a few great scenes with your onscreen aunt, Jenna Dewan. What has it been like working with her? And do you have any fun stories with her from set?

Jenna's absolutely great. I remember I met her ... two months ago. It's been fun seeing the little extended family that we have. I love when we can expand that Lane/Kent family tree as much as possible. We really went into all of Clark's family last year from the first episode, where we got to learn about Jonathan Sr., and then we got to learn about Clark's Kal-El mother, his biological mother, earlier this season. It's a lot of fun expanding the family tree and [by] having someone like Jenna Dewan come in, it was an absolute pleasure of an experience.

Do you hope you'll get a super suit sometime soon? Or do you like your vigilante hoodie look?

I love the vigilante hoodie look. I thought that was absolutely genius. If a teenager's going to be saving people, it's going to be an evil-looking hoodie. I'm surprised Nine Inch Nails wasn't written on it. I wanted that so bad. I love the hoodie. If they [give] me a suit, they [give] me a suit, but for now, I love the hoodie.

Now that Jordan is getting his hero on, is there a "Superman" or Arrowverse villain that you want to face off against?

You know what? I would love to see him fight the Joker, even though ... I know he is a Batman villain, but it's in the DC world. It would be so much fun to fight the Joker ... Yeah, we're going to get Joaquin Phoenix [to] come on CW.

Put it out into the universe.

Right. If we can get Joaquin Phoenix, then I think we're in a good place.

Working through mental health

Like Sarah, Jordan has a great arc of working through his mental health. What has that been like to bring that vital component and relatable struggle to the stream?

It's interesting, because a really big theme of Jordan's mental health is that your surroundings deeply affect what's inside your brain. It's interesting ... It was strange. Yesterday, my friend asked me if it's a choice to be happy. I remember Jordan came to mind immediately, and I was thinking, and the answer eventually that I had to give was that if it was a choice, you can choose to be happy, but if it's not a choice, it means it's your circumstances. You can change your circumstances. You can do things in your life that change how you are feeling, and you can change the reactions to them as well. We see Jordan going through that. We see his parents doing it for him in the beginning, right?

He goes from this big city to this small town. All of a sudden, he feels love. He finds Sarah [and] calms down a lot. I think it's a Zen thing. The monkeys calm down his brain, and as you see, this pressure gets put on him instead of letting it overcome him. This is really great. It's a big step in growing up, that he overcame the circumstances instead of the circumstances overcoming him. There's a lot of pressure, and you see him break and especially towards his mom. I know that he loves his mom. His mom [was] his best friend before he moved to Smallville, really. It's a tragedy that he sometimes has to take it out that way, but he changes his circumstances this time. In that way, he's a very different person. Smallville has changed him for the better. It's all that mark of the Kent stuff, [and] it's following in his grandma's footsteps as well.

Vince Gilligan: A magical man

Is there an actor/director from any time period that would be a dream to work with? You might have given me your answer on this already.

I idolize Joaquin Phoenix. I idolize Denzel Washington ... Timothée Chalamet, we went to the same high school. He graduated [between six and eight] years before me, so there's very much a little bit of a parallel there. He did a play coming right out of high school. I did a play while still in high school. It would be cool to work with him to have the LaGuardia [High School] conversation as well. Yeah, those three people.

Do you have a favorite TV show or movie of all time?

I'm going to be really cheesy here and say "Breaking Bad." Honestly, more than any celebrity ever, the person I want to meet in Hollywood is Vince Gilligan. He's the creator of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul." I think that guy is brilliant. He has such a great way of making interesting, grounded stories that keep you on your toes. He seems like an amazing director.

I don't know who the DP was over there, but man, those shows, they're simple but beautiful. I want to meet Vince Gilligan more than anyone else. Also, all the tiny actors, the people that generally have less experience that get smaller roles, sometimes [there's] a difference of acting quality, but [there's not on his shows]. It's having to do with his directing style, and he is a magical man, and I really want to meet him one day.

What's next?

Is there anything else about the show or anything that you're looking to see [Jordan] do in the future that you wanted to talk about?

Oh, I am very much looking forward to watching the Cushing storyline progress. I think having that grounded family drama is going to pay off. I really think it will happen when everything starts to intermingle. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what other stuff might happen between Bizarro world and normal world. We see Jon-El coming over. Will someone else come over? Will anyone else come over? We don't really know, so keep tuned for some really crazy stuff. The beginning of this season was really nice. It had that very nice "Interstellar" feel, and now we're going into the second half of the season, where it starts getting absolutely bonkers.

Season 2 of "Superman & Lois" returns with new episodes on Tuesday, April 26, at 8:00 p.m ET. New episodes are available on the CW website and app the following day.