Supergirl is set to soar on CBS tonight, and we had the inside scoop at New York Comic Con from star Peter Facinelli who plays Maxwell Lord on the highly anticipated series. The Twilight veteran explained to the press how his billionaire character is different than the comic book version as well as what fans can expect from a show centered on the iconic DC super heroine.
QUESTION: A lot of people who are going to be watching or reading will not have seen the show yet, obviously. Talk a little bit about who you play and the tone of the show.
PETER FACINELLI: I think the tone of the show is just meant to be comic, but kind of fun. It’s not super dark like the Batman series, you know what I mean? It’s just fun, and it’s got action. It reminds me of the Christopher Reeves kind of Superman: they were fun and funny at the right moments, and it had a really nice mix of being a family movie where everybody can enjoy it. That’s what I feel like Supergirl is. Very few shows on TV that I would sit down with my kids and say, “Hey, let’s all watch this together.” This is one of them. This is one where I would feel like, okay, this is safe to watch with my kids, but yet I can enjoy it too. I’m actually excited to see it, not just because I’m on it, but because it’s a fun show.
QUESTION: Tell us a little bit about your character.
PETER FACINELLI: Maxwell Lord is a green tech billionaire who’s trying to save humanity through green technologies. I think the problem lies is his perspective is a little different than other peoples’ perspectives. Other people look at Supergirl and super heroes as ways to help save the planet, and in his mind, we shouldn’t get help from outside sources, we should be fixing humanity ourselves. He has a very distinct perspective of how we should fix our problems. He looks at it like, our planet’s dying, we’re destroying our planet, and everybody’s fascinated by these super heroes fighting in the sky, but those are distractions. We need to get to the matters at hand and come together as a human race and fix it. Some people have been comparing it to the Lex Luthor of the Supergirl world, but I don’t think he’s a villain in that sense, he’s not an evil genius, he’s just a genius with a very clear perspective on things that don’t match up with everybody else’s.
QUESTION: Maxwell Lord has a rich history in the comic books as a villain. Can you get into bringing your own take on this as never been seen as a live action character?
PETER FACINELLI: Well when I read the comic books he was very colorful and wearing purple suits. He seemed more Donald Trump on the cover of Forbes, very gruff, strong businessman who had an agenda. I think I’m playing a more Elon Musk and more Steve Jobs. The billionaire today is a little different than the billionaire yesterday. He’s a little more cooler, charismatic. For me, there’s an old saying: the greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was to make people think that he didn’t exist. If you want power, the best way to do that is to win people over in my mind. I think he’s the kind of character that goes around and wins people over through his charisma and then he can harness that power to do what he wants to do.
As far as his relationship with Supergirl, he doesn’t have any super powers, so there’s no fighting her in that sense. He is very smart. He is a very smart man, and I think that it is an adversarial relationship with Supergirl because he looks at her as someone who is fooling the public, somebody who… Everyone’s looking up to him, almost deifying. It’s like, that’s not how to solve our problems. I think he looks at her with fascination, like if I could somehow harness that power, I could somehow solve humanity’s problem.
It’s a fun character to play. I think there are certain Trump-esque qualities about him, like when he gets in front of the newspaper reporters and stuff, he has different parts of him that he displays in front of different people. Such is life, playing different roles for different people all the time. You’re a father, you’re a brother, you’re an employee. You’re always playing different roles. For him, you get to see different characteristics of him, depending on who he’s interacting with. Yeah, it’s been a blast to play. I was really excited. It kind of just fell in my lap, I wasn’t really looking for… I just gave up Odyssey and this came along. I thought, yeah, that sounds like a fun world to be a part of. Now this, so I’m really excited to be a part of it all.
QUESTION: Do you interact more with Supergirl, Kara, or Cat?
PETER FACINELLI: I think all.
QUESTION: In what you’ve filmed so far?
PETER FACINELLI: What I’ve filmed so far, a little bit of each. Cat Grant and him have kind of a dangerous liaison kind of adversarial relationship, where it’s a sexual tension there and there’s a history, but it’s very playful, in a sense, where they’re not mean to each other. In front of each other anyway. There are little digs in the way they interact with each other. That’s a fun relationship to watch. I think the Supergirl relationship with him is fun to watch. Personally, I think he has a crush on her. Then there’s just watching him interact with different people. Hopefully for you guys, it’ll be fun to watch.
QUESTION: You’re looking forward to young women hating you.
PETER FACINELLI: I honestly hope that they don’t hate me. I hope that they actually, if I do my job right, they’ll be like, you know what? He’s right. Supergirl’s not the best thing for National City.
QUESTION: You really think that’s going to happen?
PETER FACINELLI: I’m trying. He’s trying.
QUESTION: You’re on episode nine. Obviously, they pitch you a show, they say it’s going to go one way, but how has it been from what they said it was going to be to maybe what you guys are actually making?
PETER FACINELLI: When they pitched the show, I was on the hook right away, because I was like, I’ve got 3 daughters at home, I’d love to have a show where there’s a strong female that they could root for. There’s not many on TV that are like that. Now, when I get the scripts, it’s literally like getting a comic book in the mail. When I was a kid, I used to get these Spiderman comics in the mail. I used to look in the mailbox all the time, did it come today? That’s how I am with the scripts. Oh, great, I get the next episode! I just peel it open like it’s a comic book, because it reads like a comic book. So much fun to read.
PETER FACINELLI: Well, hopefully they’ll always like me. Somebody asked me, “Are they so excited that you’re part of super hero shows and Twilight and all that?” I said, “No, they get excited when I take them for ice cream. They could care less what I do for a living.” I am excited for them to watch the show. I think they’re going to be team Maxwell Lord.
QUESTION: Do you think that maybe Twilight fans are going to have to watch the show?
PETER FACINELLI: Oh, I don’t know, I hope so. You always hope that your fans follow you from one thing to the next. You never know.
QUESTION: Talk a little bit about the filming process itself. Is it one of these eight/nine day shoots per episode? Does it feel like you’re making a movie each week?
PETER FACINELLI: My character only works a couple days a week, so it’s not as grueling as some of the other characters’ schedules. Yeah, you can tell there’s a lot of money being put into it. We have lots of green screen stuff and action-y stuff. In that sense, it feels like, wow, we are making movies. I’ve been on big movie sets where they’re spending lots of money on big action things. They’re not being cheap on this stuff. They have some really cool action sequences. It’s not being strung together. It’s actually being really well-done. I think for sure, the action fanatics will definitely get their thirst quenched.
QUESTION: Every big show has string lead female characters. Do you look for that kind of project?
PETER FACINELLI: I just feel like somehow I’m karmically drawn to it, because I have three sisters and three daughters. I grew up with my mom and my grandma, so I don’t know why. Now that you say that, a lot of things that I’ve been drawn to or I’ve been a part of have been very female-oriented in a sense. I may be subconsciously I enjoy things that females can… I want three strong daughters, so maybe subconsciously the things that I do are inspirational for women, for them to have some kind of inspiration to be stronger. Maybe, I don’t know. I still think it’s karmic.
Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist (Kara Zor-El/ Supergirl), Calista Flockhart (Cat Grant), Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers), David Harewood (Chief Hank Henshaw), Mehcad Brooks (Jimmy Olsen), Faran Tahir (The Commander), Peter Facinelli (Maxwell Lord), Jenna Dewan Tatum (Lucy Lane) and Laura Benanti (Alura Zor-El). Former Superman and Supergirl Dean Cain and Helen Slater are also on board as Kara’s earth parents Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers.
Supergirl premieres tonight on CBS at 8:30 PM.