Interview: Eric Martsolf: Smallville's Man of Gold
by R.J. Carter
Published: April 19, 2011
You've seen him on Passions, and can still see him on Days of Our Lives (one of the few remaining daytime soaps on the air). Now fans can catch Eric Martsolf in a more heroic role as he takes flight in the CW's Smallville as the greatest hero you've never heard of -- Booster Gold.
We spoke with Eric about his experiences on the Smallville set, and asked him a few questions about the current state of the industry. Read on...
So how did you come by the part of Booster Gold? Were you approached for it?
I was definitely approached for this. The casting department of Smallville had seen me for the Hawkman role, actually, a couple of months before. When Booster Gold came to town, they gave me a call and asked me to come in.
So I came into the room guns-blazing: I had a pair of glasses that were reminescent of the character; I pretty much went in there exactly the way I thought this guy would market himself. And they were sold. They said, "Yep, that's him."
Can you tell us how you went about becoming the character of Booster Gold?
It's funny, when I first started reading the script, he came across to me as sort of a Ron Burgundy from "Anchorman" -- just this ultra-comedic confidence man, and it was very questionable as to whether he had it all together or not. I wasn't sure whether this guy was all style and no substance. But when you dig further into the character, and further into the script, you realize this basically is just a misunderstood man that is the product of a very awful childhood. He had many things that he had to overcome, and he eventually turns to becoming a superhero as a way out.
It's a really wonderful lesson about the human condition. We all are fallible as human beings, and Booster Gold is interesting in that he is completely fallible and has issues. He is definitely not above being wrong and doing immoral things. So he's a complex character that way. There's really not an easy way to put it. [Writer] Geoff [Johns] just does a wonderful job in showing the compexities of this particular superhero.
Regarding Ron Burgundy, Booster does actually get to quote Will Ferrell's character when he tells Clark, "I'm kind of a big deal."
We had a good time with that. I literally was reading down the script and said, "Yep. There it is."
Fans always like to know when an actor is brought in to play a superhero whether or not he's familiar with the character prior to taking the role, or whether he's got any experience as a comics reader at all. So here's where I ask that question.
Eric Martsolf is Booster Gold.
©2011 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved
I had heard of Booster Gold, but my knowledge of him was very minimal. He entered the arena of comics around 1986. I was really intrigued when I read the breakdown for the audition, so I put a good couple of hours researching him. I went to a plentitude of sites and just read everything I could on this guy, to the point where my wife came up to me one morning and said, "What are you looking at?" I said, "Oh, this is Booster Gold," and I just started talking to her about this guy, and she said, "I think you have a pretty good handle on this guy -- he sounds a lot like yourself." And I was, "Oh, thanks honey. Goodnight." And I continued my research.
I have twin boys, and they turned five last weekend. They got a Booster Gold action figure as one of their gifts, and it's currently their favorite toy. So that's pretty cool.
Smallville and Days of Our Lives are both soaps of a sort, but Smallville is obviously more reliant on special effects. How different was it working with the special effects -- doing a flying scene, standing across from the Blue Beetle, that kind of thing?
It was wonderful to have the effects team at Smallville -- it's top notch. Tom Welling actually put a lot of thought into the episode, and that was very clear the minute I walked on set. We had a lot of conversations about how we wanted to portray this guy, what his powers are, what his weaknesses are... and I think it really becomes clear through special effects what he can and can't do. Because he does have his limits. His suit is basically the source of his power. Other than that, he's like you and I. The special effects team really went to great lengths to make this look awesome. Geoff Johns' script -- it was essential that his script matched the visuals; that was the tough part, because it was such a rich script full of so much comic wealth, and we wanted to bring that to life. And I think we did.
Soap opera effects, we're used to sticking ketchup packages in our mouth for blood, so it was a treat to have all this CGI and all this technology at our disposal.
Speaking of soaps, with the recent cancellations of One Life to Live and All My Children, is there a sense of nervousness and anxiety in the soap acting community?
Oh, absolutely! There has been for a while. Soaps right now are dropping like flies. The networks are making some very interesting decisions on what they believe to be strong programming and what is weak programming. It's funny, because the episode "Booster" actually has a lot to do with what's going on in the world today as far as shows being promoted -- What has substance, and what has style? In my estimation, soaps have been around a long time for a very good reason -- they have a very strong fan base. It's just a genre in itself, and right now networks seem to be throwing on whatever is cheapest to put on regardless of its quality.
So, sure, the soap world is in flux right now. We're all concerned. But I'm confident... I believe the genre will not be killed, and will definitely maintain some soaps on all the networks. But, you know, these are decisions that happen behind closed doors. Sometimes they make the wrong ones.
On your web page, I noted a number of charity appearances you put in. Are there any in the near future, and is there any specific charity that gets the bulk of your attention for a personal reason?
I just got back from a charity that benefited the American Liver Association this past weekend. I tend to throw myself into charities that are attached to children. That probably has a lot to do with being a fresh father of five-year-old twins -- it just changes your perspective on the world and what's really important. So anything that has to do with children you'll probably find me at, because that's where my heart is at this point in my life, wholeheartedly.
I have so many coming up, I don't even know where to begin. But you can find all my appearances at EricMartsolf.com -- that will absolutely keep people up to date on where I am and what I'm doing.