Though his on-screen son could be probably get here a little quicker, a four-hour trip isn’t stopping "Smallville" star John Schneider from coming to meet his fans down under. Schneider, who before the role of Johnathan Kent on the hit Superman prequel series was Bo Duke on TV fave "Dukes of Hazzard", is the special guest at this year’s Supernova Convention, held later this month in Queensland. In this Exclusive Interview, Schneider explains how he snagged the role on Smallville, why he’s had more dates with airliners than he’s had with his own wife the last couple of years, and what he’s up to now.
I have to ask John, how did it feel when you were told your character would be [leaving] "Smallville"?
I felt actually pretty good. There really is a need for Jonathan to go away, for there to be a need for Clark to become Superman. I think it was the right thing to do…. I was a little surprised that it happened when it did…I thought it would be one of the last things that would happen…. not like the sixth thing out of eight, or ten….
I was actually trying to recall when he moved on in the comics
It happened at different times in different versions. There’s no wrong or right time, or wrong or right time to do it. Premature I think, but other than that…
Do you miss the gang from the show?
You know, I miss my family more than I miss the guys on the show, so I’m glad to be able to be back with my family – hanging out at the house, having a hot tub with the kids. That’s really more what it’s about. Case in point: When my nephew had his first football game, I was actually in a scene in Vancouver where Clark had his first football game. I had to miss my own nephew’s football game, to be there.
How did you get involved in the series primarily?
Oh, they asked and I read the pilot and thought ‘Oh gosh, this would be great’. At first, I didn’t think it would be that great of an idea, because Superman had been done so many times, but after I read it there was no denying this was going to be a shining light in the Superman legend.
Were you familiar with the comics?
Familiar with the television show, kinda familiar with the comics, and actually, I’d listened to the radio show quite a bit. In the radio show, he didn’t have any parents at all – he was already grown, educated and had a job at the Daily Planet.
It would have been pretty important that you had chemistry with Annette O’Toole and Tom Welling, in particular?
Oh yeah…. but you spend that much time together you’re going to have some kinda of chemistry. Chemistry or not, you’re going to have something. But we do, we get along really great. Helping Tom [as Clark] grow in the pilot was something that caused the chemistry early on.
How similar are you to Jonathan Kent?
Totally. I’m a very loving, but strict parent. You’d find a lot of similarities between Jonathan Kent and John Schneider. They had fun on Smallville, and I have fun with my kids as well – I think you need to play with them, as much as you correct them. But, I’m a parent; I’m not a pal.
My 26-year-old wife thinks you’re the ants-pants. Whereas most girls swoon over Tom Welling, she’s got it going on for John Schneider.
Is that right? Ah, good for her! You have a smart wife [Laughs]
It was filmed in Vancouver. So were you flying back home every week?
Twice a week. It’s a two-and-half-hour flight, but you’ve gotta do it when the planes fly…. and if you’re working at Six O’clock on a Thursday, you’ve got to leave your house at 5:30 on a Wednesday night, so it might as well be a twelve-hour flight.
One of my favourite episodes of "Smallville" was the one that served as a reunion for you and your "Dukes of Hazzard" co-star Tom Wopat.
I liked that. I thought that was cute. He [Wopat’s character] was the one that got me into the Senate race to begin with, so you can say it was kinda him that eventually did me in. [laughs]
Was that one of the original cars from "Dukes of Hazzard" that he drove in that episode?
No, no…it belongs to a guy up there where we filmed…. Though, I guess it could have been one of the cars from the old days – I’ve heard that as well. It sounds good to say it was, let’s say it was.
Did you see the film version of "The Dukes of Hazzard"?
My gosh….it was terrible! It wasn’t Dukes…. it was true to whatever it was; I just don’t know what that was!
What have you been doing since "Smallville"?
Working on my movie, it’s called Collier and Company. It’s about cars, and trying to get back with my wife and kids. It’s about an ex-race car driver trying to go legit, his wife doesn’t want him to race because she thinks it’s unsafe, so he becomes a car salesman. How he acquires his inventory is by racing people pink for pink though, so ends up doing something even far more dangerous. So he pretends he’s not racing, and she says ‘Oh, come on. You’re full of crap’. So working on that right now.
So what’s the release plan for it?
The big screen. And the best thing to say about Collier and Company is that it’s everything that the Dukes of Hazzard movie should’ve been, and wasn’t.
Who’s in that with you?
Just friends, a bunch of friends. One guy from Dukes is in it – his name is Mickey Jones, he was BB Davenport. Great character actor, great guy. The only people who are involved in Collier and Company is people who just want to do a good movie that everybody can watch.
Any ideas for future projects?
I have scripts that I have written over the past 28 years, and if Collier and Company turns a profit, I’m going to make ‘em all. I’ll be busy the rest of my days, and I’m hoping that’s the case because I don’t want to get on a plane and fly twice a week to Vancouver anymore. [Laughs]
Supanova 2006, Brisbane, Friday to Sunday, April 21 to 23, at the RNA Showgrounds, Gregory Terrace, Brisbane.
SMALLVILLE airs on Channel TEN.
- CLINT MORRIS