Superman Tyler Hoechlin chats with TV Week about the leap from guest star to leading man

TV Week: Is it true they changed your Superman suit because, even though the old one looked really good in your run on other CW shows, it wasn’t designed to be a “leading-man suit"?
Tyler Hoechlin: I mean, originally I was supposed to do this for two episodes [on Supergirl]. That’s really what the first meeting was, you know? “We’re going to do this as a cool, fun thing for the fans.” So, that suit was meant for that. Then it turned into more and more. Obviously, now we’re telling a new story; it’s a different time in his life, so it would only make sense the suit would change to reflect that.

Superman & LoisCTV Sci-FiHow have you adjusted your performance now that you’re a lead?
For me, how I play the character has really been informed by what Todd [Helbing, showrunner] and the writing team have been doing and Greg Berlanti and the producing team down in L.A., and then also everybody here [filming in B.C.]. I find a lot of times with the character, it’s much more helpful to figure out what the people around you are making you do, as opposed to just what you are creating on your own... [The same is true for] reacting to the kids and to Lois and having a little bit more time to breathe with these characters, as opposed to showing up for, you know, two or three lines in a scene where you’re kind of there to assist.

Other actors who’ve taken on this character have found that they had very little wiggle room when it came to playing Superman, but got to put their own spin on Clark Kent. Did you find that?
Sure, sure. I think with Superman, he stands for something; he is so symbolic and there’s things that you come to know that he’s unwavering in. And so you kind of feel a responsibility to carry on those things as well. But with Clark, there is more leeway with that; you can kind of find those little subtleties, those things that are a little bit more human about him. It’s a little bit more flexible and you can have some fun with it... because in a way he’s putting on a show when he’s Clark.

Superman & LoisCTV Sci-FiHow would you sum up the Superman/Clark that you’ve decided to play?
There’s really, like, at least five different versions of him. I played either Superman as the symbol and no one knows who he is or when he’s closer to people and they know who he is. The other ones are: the extreme version of Clark Kent; and then there’s a Clark Kent where they know he’s Superman, but right now he’s playing Clark; and then there’s the one in the centre that I really don’t have a name for. It’s just, like, genuinely who he is... it’s when he’s with his family and they know who he is and he can be himself.

Superman & LoisCTV Sci-FiWhat’s it like for you to play a father of two teen boys?
Obviously, that’s not the phase of life that I’m in, but I’ve really been able to pull from my older brother and sister... I’ve got six nieces and nephews that I’ve been able to at least be around in that capacity. More than anything, it’s really just taking from my dad. My dad made a real conscious effort to—even being an emergency-room doc and working crazy hours—always [be] around as much as possible and make it to all our baseball games and things like that. He’s very present in my life. Still is. And so I take a lot from him. That’s really been my inspiration for the “dad” stuff.

Superman & Lois airs Tuesdays at 6 p.m. & 10 p.m.  on CTV Sci-Fi and at 9 p.m. on The CW