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Self-assured and possessed with a rapid-fire sense of humor, Michael Rosenbaum shaved his blond locks for the role he seems born to play - a young Lex Luthor in Smallville. Next up for Rosenbaum is Wes Craven's thriller Cursed, with Christina Ricci, set to be released early 2005. Born in Oceanside, New York, and raised in Newburgh, Indiana, Rosenbaum excelled in high school drama classes. Once hooked, he took on lead roles in college stage productions such as The Heidi Chronicles while attending Western Kentucky University and performing in regional theater during his summers. Upon graduation with a degree in Mass Communications and Theater, he packed his bags and headed for New York to pursue acting. He quickly landed roles in off-Broadway productions and small independent films, and soon segued into regular appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in a sketch called The Amsterdam Kids. His first real break came when he got a series regular role on The WB comedy series The Tom Show, with Tom Arnold. The relationship with the network continued as he was cast as Jack in the New York comedy Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane. Keeping busy over his hiatus, Rosenbaum appeared in the feature film Bringing Down the House, opposite Steve Martin. He can be seen in the independent film Poolhall Junkies, with Chazz Palminteri and Christopher Walken. Other film credits include Sorority Boys, with 7th Heaven's Barry Watson and Sweet November with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron. He also starred in the hit thriller Urban Legend and appeared in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack.
Michael Rosenbaum was born on July 11, 1972.
When not working, he belongs to an ice hockey league, a sport that he has played since childhood, and is a dedicated New York Rangers fan. Athletic and outgoing, Rosenbaum is an avid hockey player and golfer. In addition, Rosenbaum has a passion for music, and plays both acoustic and electric guitar.
Rosenbaum currently resides in Vancouver (when Smallville is in production) and Los Angeles. He recently bought a custom van.
Disc-covering Michael Rosenbaum
To further get the point across that he's the best Lex Luthor to date - one point for just shaving his head - even with Kevin Spacey attached to "Superman Returns", we've decided to slap together a discography of "Smallville" star Michael Rosenbaum - in otherwords, where you'll find him on DVD and whether those DVD's are actually worth shelling out for.
Our young female readers are probably quite aware of who Rosenbaum is: He’s the bald-headed son of Satan, Lex Luthor, on the hit series. Each and every week the millionaire buddy – for the meantime – of Clark Kent gets closer and closer to finding out whom his farm boy mate is.
Believe it or not, Rosenbaum actually had a career pre-shaved head, starring in a number of popular movies, as well as providing voices for characters in animated features. Here’s a look at where you’ll find him pre-Luthorcorp.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
Michael plays: George Tucker, in the Clint Eastwood helmed film. Based on the novel by John Berendt, the film centres on a murder trial of a savannah-based millionaire socialite named Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey). John Cusack stars as a writer from New York, in town to find out what really happened, and the always dependable Jude Law plays prime suspect no.1. A little overvalued, but still worth checking out for the stellar cast – which also includes Australia’s Jack Thompson.
DVD Verdict: Besides the pretty sleeve, amaray case and colour disc, there’s less extras here than there are unsightly chicks at Hugh Hefner’s pad. It sells at most places for under $20 though, so not too much to lay out if you do feel the need to add it to your collection.
Urban Legend (1998)
Michael plays: Parker Riley, one of several youngsters that are hurriedly being done away with by a campus serial killer. The novel flick – from Australia’s Jamie Blanks – which throws out the same old- same old teen slasher stencil and replaces it with something a bit more unique: A tale about urban legends and how the titular killer is replicating them . Co-stars Tara Reid, Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson, Alicia Witt and Jared Leto.
DVD Verdict: Nothing very special, but considering you can get it for about $15 around town, it’s a title worth grabbing. One of Rosenbaum’s better films on DVD actually – though the girls a likely to be covering their eyes with a pillow when it comes time to offing his character.
Batman Beyond : Return of the Joker (2000)
Michael plays: Ghoul, a secondary villain in this animated Batman series. For those that haven’t seen the Batman Beyond TV series, it’s set when Batman/Bruce Wayne is an old codger, with a young gun named Terry McGinnis inheriting the torch. In this feature-length episode, McGinnis goes up against Batman’s long-time foe, The Joker. It’s just one of several cartoons that Rosenbaum provides a voice for. You can also check out his vocal stylings in The Wild Thornberry’s, Justice League, the Jackie Chan Adventures and Static Shock.
DVD Verdict: Let’s just say the extras are just as good on this disc as they are on all four DVD’s for the live-action Batman movies. If you own any of them, you’ll know that’s not much. In fact, there’s nothing at all on them. Maybe when Batman Begins gets a release on disc, these cartoons will come out in bumper editions too? maybe? They’re a shoe-in for a re-issue at least.
Sweet November (2001)
Michael plays: A bloke dressed in women’s clothing. OK, we’ve scared those female readers off. Should I go on? OK, Rosenbaum whacks on the female garb to play Brandon, a cross-dressing pal of wacky Charlize Theron in this sopfest. For those that haven’t seen the film, it tells the story of a young woman who falls for a slick dick (Keanu Reeves), and though they’re as different as pepsi and coke, somewhat manage to make it work.
DVD Verdict: A couple of extras (some studio stuff, trailers – nothing worth slapping a ‘highly recommended buy’ sticker on the sleeve for though), perfect sound and video – but Keanu’s in it. Must take a point off. What it must’ve done for the movies credibility having a piece of thicket headline it.
Smallville : The Complete First Season (2001)
Michael plays: Lex Luthor, the long-time enemy of Superman. Of course, this is the story of Clark Kent, before he got his cape, as he takes on the assortment of weirdos in his hometown of Smallville, Kansas. Amusingly, Lex and Clark are friends, but gradually, they’re both starting to become a little wary of one another – especially Clark, when he discovers that Lex is digging into his past. A blast of a show, and the one that put Rosenbaum on the map. It really is quite weird seeing the guy with hair now!
DVD Verdict: All of the Smallville box-sets are brimming with extras. This first season includes commentary, an interactive map of the town, deleted scenes, a pilot storyboard montage and more. The goofs on the Season 2 set have got to be the highlight of the bonuses though – so if you’re buying Season 1, make sure you get Season 2 at the same time.
Justice League (2001)
Michael plays: Wally West/The Flash in this animated series. Funnily enough, the man behind Lex Luthor (on Smallville) shares the screen with Superman. The Justice League – some of DC Comic’s finest friends including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, The Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and the Martian Manhunter – get together to overcome a dangerous array of interstellar invaders and world conquering megalomaniacs. Several feature-length episodes have been released on DVD.
DVD Verdict: Funnily enough, there are more extras on this toon disc than there are on some of Rosenbaum’s more well-known live action efforts. There’s Character bios, Cast & Crew information, a US Trailer of family fun DVD, a Bonus double sided poster: Justice League & Samurai Jack and some features for your DVD Rom PC. Nothing to scream about, but enough to amuse the littlies after they’ve finished watching the film.
Sorority Boys (2002)
Michael plays: One of three college students, that develops a fondness for women’s clothing (reoccurring theme Mike?). Seeking revenge after they've unjustly been thrown out of their fraternity three potty-mouthed Jocks throw on women's clothing and hide out at their fraternity while they hatch a plan. Of course by film’s end, they would have bonded with their fraternity sisters, be able to relate to their sisters and become better men in the outcome.
DVD Verdict: A couple of good little features on the disc – including a behind the scenes featurette and a making of – but it’s begging for a commentary from the three lead actors (Rosenbaum, Barry Watson, Harland Williams) and we would’ve welcomed a goof reel too.
Bringing Down the House (2002)
Michael plays: Smarmy businessman Todd Gendler in this reasonably amusing comedy. Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) is a man who's trying to find some satisfaction. He's a successful tax attorney, but his personal life needs help. His wife has recently left him, and he's turned to the internet world to find a new love. Peter soon finds out the rule of internet chatting, don't assume the person you are talking to is who they say they are. Peter sets up a date with his chat partner, but when she arrives, he finds that he has been duped. He's expecting a successful female layer, but Charlene Morton (Queen Latifah) shows up at the door instead.
DVD Verdict: Now this is more like it! There’s audio commentary, deleted scenes, a couple of featurettes, deleted scenes and a gag reel. Looks like the Smallville sets have competition.
Best Michael Rosenbaum DVD Around : The Smallville sets are pretty much your best bet. Not only because they’ve got a great selection of extras, but because they’re great entertainment. Bringing Down the House has a swarm of bonuses on its disc too, but the film itself isn’t that much chop. Still – worth considering.
Besides his ongoing role as Lex on "Smallville", Rosenbaum will appear in the long-awaited Wes Craven flick "Cursed", alongside his "Urban Legend" co-star Joshua Jackson. But you can currently 'hear' him in the new CGI/live action flick "Racing Stripes", which should be on DVD mid-year.
Michael to play in 7th Annual Hockey Challenge!!!
Michael Rosenbaum is to play in the 7th annual hockey challenge, along with several other famous celebrities! Hockey teams formed by sponsors such as Microsoft and Washington Mutual, along with celebrities appearing in the Celebrity Game on March 19, skate to support the children and families served by RMHC. Individual tickets can be purchased for each day's events, which includes access to the evening T-Birds games. The T-Birds play the Portland Winter Hawks at 7 p.m. on March 19 and the Everett Silvertips at 5 p.m. on March 20. Tickets also admit you to the celebrity autograph session an hour before the celebrity game, which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on March 19.
Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor
Like Martin Johnson before him, Smallville's Michael Rosenbaum's had his head up a mate's arse! What the hell's going on in the world?
You play Lex Luthor in Superman-as-a-boy TV show, Smallville. But do you have your own special power?
Probably belching. The best film ever made is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's amazing. And scary. My favourite bit is when they are in the fizzy lifting drinks room and they have to belch to save their lives. What kind of a situation do you have to be in when only belching will save your life? But I'm a great belcher, so if it ever happens I'll be ready.
We saw you in drag in [romantic Keanu Reeves film] Sweet November. Got any make-up tips?
I like dressing in drag. And I guess I mist have been pretty good-looking because when I was on the set these guys from other projects would be staring at me and giving me the eye. But I probably wouldn't have sex with myself. Unless it was three in the morning and there was no one else left in the bar. That's happened a couple of times, but generally I'm just not my type. My mum loved me as a woman though. After she saw the movie she called me up and said, "You look exactly like me!" I had to tell her I was a man so that wasn't really a compliment.
Rant about anything you want for 30 seconds. Go.
When I was a kid all musicians and rock artists had their own personalities. Now I can't tell who the fuck is playing on the radio. It all sounds the same. Where are all the great bands? Bring back Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin. Jimi Hendrix had more talent in his toes than Nickelback will ever have.
Do we detect a frustrated musician?
God, no. I don't think I could do that. but I do write songs for myself. Fun songs. But I get pretty into it. And I do a great guitar solo face.
Cool. What's disappointed you most recently?
I went to the Matrix Reloaded premiere and hated it. We had to wait for over an hour for the cast to get into the cinema, so it didn't end until really late. And then it was "To Be Concluded." I was disgusted. There wasn't even an aftershow party. But I did get to sit next to Ben Kingsley. Probably because he's bald too. I just wanted to rub his head all the way through, but that would have been rude.
Is there a Lex doll of you?
Yeah. When it came out I was really excited and just wanted to show it off to my friends. So I went round to their place and my friend is standing in his living room, buck naked. So I'm like, "What are you doing?" So he turns around and the head of the Lex doll is stuck up his arse. That kind of brought me back down to earth.
Ever abused your fame with a lady?
You have to be careful. I get my share of crazy fans. One woman sent me a novel about her life married to Lex. Sometimes they send pictures--and not just head shots. One time at a signing a girl came up to me and I suddenly recognized her from a photo she'd sent. And she really was as beautiful as I'd thought at the time. But I didn't say anything. Sometimes I think about calling her though. Maybe I should send her a photo of me.
What's the worst thing about Britain?
Fish juice. I was in a hotel the other day and they put this fish shit on my salad. Anchovies or something? [Worcester Sauce?] I almost vomited. What is wrong with you people?
Hold on, you're the bloke whose mate sticks a doll's head up his arse! Let's move on. What do you like spending money on?
Arcade games. I'm into the old classic games like Pacman and Donkey Kong, so I keep buying these big old arcade machines for myself. But I'm never going to make enough money for all the toys I want. I also collect vintage tour T-shirts. I have hundreds. Everything from Oliva Newton John to Duran Duran. I have a Chicago one that's worth $100. It's my hobby. That's OK, isn't it?
We'll let you off. What's your most essential possession?
My van. I have this custom Dodge conversion van with an extended roof. It's such a shag palace. In the back is this couch which turns into a bed when you flick a switch. I've loaded it up with a plasma TV, sound system, DVD and XBox. It's so cool. But I still haven't gotten laid in it. I've had it for over a year and I've made out in it, but that's it. It's going to happen though. It's just a matter of time.
Are you a bit of a hippy then?
Absolutely. My parents were full-on hippies. My dad was 18 and only had one pair of jeans when I was born. He would deliver the paper on Long Island and smoke a lot of grass. Now he works for a pharmaceutical company, so go figure. But I love all that stuff. The music, the vibe, everything I buy is from that era. I was just born a little too late.
Tell us your best celebrity story.
I did a movie with Christopher Walken. On my first day I introduce myself and tell him what a fan I am and ask him what I should call him on set. So he says, "You know what, call me Flash." So next day I'm on the set with my friends, showing off and as he passes I go, "Hey Flash" and he just turns and looks at me and says, "Who the fuck are you?"
In your opinion which superhero would benefit from a good kicking?
I'm not impressed with Wolverine. Having knives come out of your fingers isn't a super power. Not like being invisible. That's the best one. You'd get to walk around naked and punch whoever you wanted.
Michael Rosenbaum Made A Brilliant Woman
Actor MICHAEL ROSENBAUM knew he was doing well as a drag queen - when other men on set tried to pick him up.
The SMALLVILLE actor had to play a gender-bender opposite KEANU REEVES in SWEET NOVEMBER, and knew he'd pulled off the tricky transformation by the reactions he got.
He says, "I like dressing in drag. And I guess I must have been pretty good looking because when I was on set these guys from other projects would be staring at me and giving me the eye."
But, Michael laughs, he wasn't all that impressed with his female alter ego - he adds, "But I probably wouldn't have sex with myself. Unless it was three in the morning and there was no-one else left in the bar. That's happened a couple of times, but generally I'm just not my type."
Michael Rosenbaum: It's Good to be Bad
Portraying someone who's destined to become Superman's greatest nemisis, Michael Rosenbaum couldn't be a a nicer guy. Probably because the actor's character, Lex Luthor, just can't get a break whenever he tries placing the heroic white hat on his hairless head in Smallville. For the past two seasons, Lex has been at constant war with his heartless father, Lionel (John Glover), subjected to Cupid's lethally sharp love arrows, and hard-pressed to resist the urge to learn the super-secrets of his best friend, Clark Kent. Outside the self-proclaimed "Meteor Capital of the World", however, Rosenbaum is a star well deserving of the acclaim he's received from both critics and fans. He's also super-busy--while overseeing Lex's day to day affairs in Smallville, he's been running around as The Flash on Cartoon Network's animated megahit Justice League, and enjoyed box-office success in the Steve Martin-Queen Latifah smash comedy Bringing Down the House.
Although Lex's unpiloted plane in the season two finale Exodus appears headed for a one way trip, Rosenbaum has no fears regarding what's come before, or what lies ahead of him in Smallville.
Smallville: Now that you've lived in Smallville for two seasons, do you think the series is hitting its stride?
Michael Rosenbaum: Yeah. It takes a while for all of the elements to get going. After the first season, it was like, "How do we top Season One?" We got so many fans, so much response, covers to magazines...it just didn't seem like it could get any better. Yet somehow we went beyond everyone's expectations with Season Two, and attracted more fans this year.
I think it's a lot of word of mouth, and that we just go in there every day and try to be better than the day before. That goes for everyone, from the writing to the actors. We all want Smallville to continue its success, and not become one of those run-of-the-mill television series. It's really important for us to try harder and accomplish as much as we can to make the show better.
SV: With all of this attention, how do you maintain a fresh approach to your character? How do you keep Lex Luthor interesting for yourself?
MR: Well, what's fun for me is that I kind of have an idea of where they're going with Lex, and where I'm going with him. There are little things along the way--nuances, if you will--that I try to create in each episode to make the audience wonder, "Was that one of the moments that will cause Lex to turn to the dark side?"
SV: Was there an episode in Season Two that's a good example of what you've described?
MR: There's an episode called Precipice, where I get a chance to show some different colors. It's another side of Lex where you don't want to mess with this guy or push him too far. He's engaged to Dr. Helen Bryce (Emanuelle Vaugier) and when somebody comes back into her life, I step in and make some decisions, one way or the other. It's nice to see a different side of my character.
SV: Is your new fiancee leading you to take another step towards the dark side?
MR: That's one of the things where we can only speculate. [laughs] Unfortunately, the writers don't tell me everything, and even if they did, I couldn't tell everything I know. But I think everything, and every character, has a purpose. When Helen was brought into the picture, I'm sure the boys back in LA had some ideas of making her a catalyst in Lex's downfall, or his turn to the dark side. I don't really know, and I don't really want to know. It keeps it more entertaining for me. There's something there; I don't exactly know what it is or where it's going, but there's something there.
SV: Is that "something there" why Lex is left on a plane all alone, with no pilot, in the season finale?
MR: They won't tell me! I had a nice dinner with Al (Gough) and Miles (Millar) and I asked, "So what happens?" They said, "Guess you'll find out when we come back, won't you, Michael?" Yeah, I guess I will. [laughs]
Anyway, it keeps things fun and interesting. I think if I knew everything, then how much fun would that be?
SV: True. Besides, you'd just probably be tempted to start mapping out in your head how you'd approach the scene...
MR: Exactly. And just when you think you know what's going to happen, [the writers] like for people's minds to wander, to just go in different directions, and hopefully plant the biggest surprise that they're not expecting. That's what's fun for me, anyway. Everyone assumes or thinks they know what's going to happen to Lex, or what's going to happen to Clark, and then it's just a little different than they thought, which is nice.
SV: When we last interviewed you just before the start of Season Two, you called Lex "a misguided hero." Now that the season's finished, and after episodes like Insurgence, in which you covered up the botched sabotage of your father's business in Metropolis, do you stand by that assessment of Lex, or do you see a change in him?
MR: I think when Lex does things, at the time they seem right or appropriate, but they backfire sometimes. Everyone has those moments in their life when they want to be a little vindictive; when they want to get back at somebody or play them at their own game. They can inadvertently cause pain and suffering to others, and I think that's what happens to Lex. He doesn't plan for certain things to happen; they just do.
It makes Lex dislike his father even more, because when these things happen, they hurt the people he loves or respects, like the Kents. I don't think he wants to do those things; he constantly fighting himself, trying to do the right thing. There are several episodes [towards the end of Season Two] where you can see Lex is like, "Man, I made a huge mistake, but please trust me. I'm trying to go the other way. Help me. Help me not become my father. Help me try to be the good guy." That's what the series for Lex is all about; it's him striving to do the right thing because he doesn't want to sway. I think that's what's so real, and gives Lex such a vulnerable and realistic quality. As human beings, we all want to do what's right, but when we don't, it can become a domino effect.
SV: Would you say that by trying so hard not to be like Lionel, Lex is actually becoming more like him?
MR: Yeah. The more he distances himself from his father, the closer he's getting to be like him. He's doing whatever it takes to do the right thing--having his father out of his life, starting anew and meeting someone he can finally trust in Helen, confiding in Clark--and ultimately, everthing just backfires. I mean, what the hell can you do if you try and try? If at first you don't succeed...quit? [laughs]
SV: Seeing as how you prefer having the writers not tell you everything, would you say that's also how you and John Glover keep that strained relationship between Lex and Lionel Luthor fresh on screen? By not overly rehearsing or going over your characters long before a scene?
MR: We never go over our stuff until we get on the set. Occasionally, I'll be in the makeup trailer when John comes in, all chipper, and says with a big smile, "Hello, son." I'm like, "Hello, Dad", we give each other a big hug, sit down, and laugh. If there's a big scene, we'll read it once or twice, just for the lines. We then like to do what we call "playing"--we go [on the set] and we play. The directors, for the most part, sit back and let us do our thing unless they really have a certain direction. But by this point in time on Smallville, it's nice to see they really just trust that John and I will come in and do our work. Their job's a lot easier when we walk in and try to make our moves interesting, pick our moments and mix it up a bit.
It's always new and fresh with John. We give each other 110 percent every time we work together. I look up to him. As an actor, no matter how good or bad you are, you're always looking for answers. Everyone says, "Listening is the most important thing for an actor to learn." Well, if that was the answer and everybody always listened, everybody would be a great actor. But you forget little things, and you forget to listen sometimes. There were moments last year I'd say to John, "God, I can't figure this out. There's all this stuff..." During last season's finale (Tempest), I'm throwing stuff off the shelves while we're walking around the room, and John gave me the best note ever: "Just listen. Think about what we're talking about and just listen." I go, "Oh my God...listening! That's what I need to do!" It's also about trust. John's a veteran actor, and it's nice to have him there because it seems like he has a lot of the answers.
SV: Last issue, we interviewed Allison Mack (Chloe), and she stated how she'd like to work more with you and John Glover in the future.
MR: Really? That's great. On a series, you get trapped a bit. Allison, Tom [Welling] and Kristin's [Kreuk] characters are all in high school, and I'm the one that's not, besides the parents. Which is really fortunate for me, because I like to have this adult life. My character's an adult, and my scenes are mostly with John, Tom, women I cross paths with, people who are older businessmen, whatever. But I never get a chance to work with Allison all that much; in two years, we've probably had two minutes of screen time together. Allison's very talented, and it'd be nice to have more scenes with her. I don't know if she'll be working for me or my father, or whatever's going to happen down the road, but there's plenty of time, let's just say. There's at least three years to go on the series, and I think they're just picking their moments. They're going to start mixing things up.
SV: Another character we're wondering if you'll interact with more is Pete Ross (Sam Jones III) whose friendship with Clark became tighter over this past season. It's obvious there was tension between you two, due to Lionel's involvement with Pete's family. Will that develop further down the road?
MR: I'm sure; I mean, it has to. They've planted the seeds, so it's just a matter of time when we start to find out what happened with Pete's family, how my father was involved, and the reason for the animosity toward the Luthors. We're definitely going to explore that. Sam's also been asking, "Man, when am I gonna have scenes with you guys?" [laughs]
It's great that we all want to work together. It's just a matter of being patient; it's been two years, and we're not even halfway done. Pete and Lex's story is definitely an interesting one to find out. We've hinted at it, but we haven't really talked about what really happened. It'll be interesting.
I'm looking forward to any changes, and working with Allison and Sam, or more of John [Schneider] and Annette [O'Toole], because they've been doing it awhile, and I don't get to see them all that much. Usually my scenes are with Tom or John [Glover] or a love interest...
SV: ...And John Schneider's usually shouting at you to get out of his house, anyway...
MR: Yeah--"Get out of here!" or "Leave my barn!" [laughs]
SV: What do you think Lex has learned about himself this year? Is there anything he should have learned, but hasn't yet?
MR: I think he's trying to trust and understand others; be a little more vulnerable and accepting. No one gives him a chance, yet he tries giving everyone a chance. That's something he's dealing with, but doesn't like to. After Heat, the episode where I got married, we were like, "Lex is getting married again?" [The writers] said, "Yeah, but the first time he was obviously manipulated," and this woman had the ability to "persuade" him with...whatever it was. [laughs]
SV: Well, if anyone gives you a hard time about it, you can always point out that Pa Kent's been put in jail like three or four times....
MR: Yeah! Y'know, he's a dirty man, that Pa Kent! Get off my case and look at him--he's a criminal! [laughs]
Lex-Man Michael Rosenbaum
Smallville's Lex Luthor on the finale -- Michael Rosenbaum talks about the future of the WB hit, the challenges of head shaving, and more.
In his complex, tormented role as a best friend destined to become Superman's lifelong nemesis, Michael Rosenbaum has managed to become the WB's only hairless heartthrob, Lex Luthor. The 30-year-old New York native -- who also appeared in last year's Sorority Boys and voices the Flash on Cartoon Network's Justice League -- tells EW.com about Smallville's May 20 season finale, the challenges of playing a bad-guy-to-be, and his response to fans who think Lex and Clark want to be more than friends.
So what can you reveal about the finale?
Everything's coming out now. There's twists that I don't even get -- like, 10 twists per show. We're finding out more about Clark, [father] Lionel took the company from Lex -- s**t's coming down. The finale is huge. It's the unexpected, I mean, REALLY the unexpected. When I read the script, I was like, ''WHAT?'' I kept going to the writers, ''Well, what happened?'' I can't tell you too much, but when you talk about cliffhangers, let's just say the cliff is very high. It looks like time is going to elapse [between seasons]. There are big changes.
What's it like to play a character who has to gradually, bit by bit, turn into a bad guy?
I know that we probably have three years left of Smallville, three or four years tops. So I've got a lot of time. When something's written a certain way, I'm supposed to play it a certain way that makes it more ambiguous. Friends and family members call me and say, ''What are you doing? Why'd you look at him like that?'' And that's how I like it -- always keep 'em guessing. I don't know what's gonna happen, but it's little things along the way.
What's the hardest part of that journey?
There's that desire to be a little more evil, to give it a little extra look, and I have to fight that. I have to try to make him more passive and ambiguous, to keep him more mysterious. There's some times I just want to be evil, and I just can't do that.
How's the cast getting along -- do you guys hate each other yet?
Well, I ran into Kristin [Kreuk today], and we SQUEEZED each other. It's that kind of camaraderie, that kind of closeness that I think successful shows need. We get along brilliantly. We love hanging out and trying to make the show better. We're all up in Vancouver -- one of us lives there. The rest of us are there on vacation, and we don't know when the vacation is gonna end. So it helps that you're there with people you like.
There's certain fans who see a gay subtext in all those long, intense gazes between Lex and Clark. What do you make of that?
[Laughs] I love it. In fact, if there's a line where I look at Clark and I say [with intense gaze], ''If you need me, I'm there,'' we laugh our asses off. It takes us 10 takes to get it out. Let the audience think what they want to think. If they watch the show, they have their own views on which way it's gonna go, and I love that. I don't want to give the answers away, because the answers lie in their minds.
You seem to be kind of a wise-ass, and you did Sorority Boys. Are you more into doing comedy than drama?
I love comedies. I think I'm extremely funny. [Laughs] I think my knack is comedy. I love making people laugh -- that's what I was born to do. So it's so funny that I'm doing this serious, intense role.
Are you in danger of being typecast as Lex?
Nah. Look at this [removes baseball cap]. I got my hair back -- I'm a force to be reckoned with.
Are you ever worried it's gonna be like the Seinfeld episode where the guy shaves his head and can't grow it back?
I was scared in the beginning. But it grows back nice. I got a lot of -- what is it that makes hair grow? Testosterone.
Michael Rosenbaum: From Lex Luthor to Han Solo?
Now starring as the chrome dome Lex Luthor in the TV hit Smallville, Michael Rosenbaum is finding that the so-called bad guy can be a chick magnet! You’ve seen him in the Urban Legend films as Parker and in the Keanu Reeves film Sweet November. He grew up in Indiana and moved to New York where he did theater until heading for indie films and TV guest shots. He played Jonathan in the Tom comedy series and plays ice hockey for kicks. We talked to him at a WB party in a trendy Italian bistro in Pasadena, California and learned that, among other goals, he’d like to play the young Han Solo in a Star Wars film Han with hair of course...
TeenHollywood: You were in The Garden of Good and Evil, right?
M: Yeah. I was the guy on the stand during the trial.
TeenHollywood: You are great as Lex but are you allowed to do films on hiatus from the show?
M: Well, I have one coming out called Sorority Boys.
TeenHollywood: Do you have hair in that one?
M: (Laughing) I wore a guy’s wig and a woman’s wig. I’m in drag. I play a guy but we have to go undercover in drag. And I have a movie called Poolhall Junkies with Christopher Walken and Chas Palmentieri. That’s on the independent circuit.
TeenHollywood: So you have time to get those in then?
M: Yeah. I want to do different roles. Now that I’m stuck as Lex Luthor I can just grow my hair back and do anything I want. I’m like a chameleon anyway. That’s what I like to do.
TeenHollywood: People don’t recognize you with hair.
M: No. My hero is Gary Oldman so if I can have one-fourth the career he has, I’ll be happy.
TeenHollywood: Are you hoping you don’t get stuck playing a bad guy. How about playing a romantic lead?
M: I’ve never really been given the chance to do the romantic lead and that’s something that once they see I can do it, it’s probably the easiest role to play.
TeenHollywood: How did you start out in the acting biz?
M: I did high school theater, college theater. I did everything and worked my way up. Shakespeare, all that. I moved to New York and did a movie called 1999 with Jennifer Garner. My first real studio film was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, then Urban Legends.
TeenHollywood: A lot of fans are hot for the Superman character in Smallville but just as many think you are a hottie more interesting.
M: I love that. Why not? I didn’t know how people would respond but I’m very happy how it’s going.
TeenHollywood: Do you get a chance to put in your ideas for storylines or how you think Lex should be developed?
M: Well, they (producers and writers) are gifted in that regard. They do their thing and I do mine. But, sometimes I have questions on things and we work together. It’s very collaborative. I call them all the time (putting hand in "phone" pose to his ear). Hey, it’s Rosenbaum again. Can we talk? And we work it out.
TeenHollywood: What would you love to do next?
M: I want to be the young Han Solo. If George Lucas goes to teenhollywood.com and reads this, he should give me an audition. I’m the perfect young Han Solo. Let’s see what was going on with him at a young age. I’d love it! I would also like to do a romantic comedy, like a Shallow Hal. I’d love to be a Jack Black. I love comedy. It’s my forte. Drama is a lot easier than comedy, no matter what anybody tells you. Timing is the most important thing. I guess, my whole life I always thought I had comic timing. I made people laugh and I want to continue to do that.
TeenHollywood: Actors say that when they’re doing a serious scene it’s even easier to crack up.
M: I mess with everybody. When I go to a set I want everyone to be a family. I want everybody to be goofing on each other and I don’t want anybody to take themselves seriously and that’s the way it should be.
TeenHollywood: What kind of music are you into?
M: ‘70s love songs. Cheesy ‘70s and ‘80s love songs. I love Christopher Cross. Call me a freak. Call me a cheeseball but I love music like that. I love Melissa Manchester, Paul Davis. (Starts singing) "I go crazy when I look in your eyes."
Michael Rosenbaum has lots of pesonalities
Look Ma, No Mirrors: "I chose acting because I've always been a bit of an extrovert. I decided all that time spent entertaining myself in front of the mirror might be more useful if I shared it with other people."
Lights, Camera, Scissors: "I didn't have to get permission to shave my head. It was part of the job. I don't mind. It would have bothered me if I had shaved my head and found all these dents and craters under there but, if you ask me, I'd have to say I've got a pretty good-looking head."
Rock 'N' Role: "Playing a bad guy [as in Lex Luthor] is a little weird. Overall, it makes sense because so far I've gone from one extreme to the other. I went from playing this innocent homosexual kid to a college frat boy to the mean guy in Urban Legend and a transvestite in Sweet November to this. Smallville is my first dramatic series. Will it change my life? I don't think so. I'm going to be just fine. I am sure there's a club for bald men out there somewhere that I can always join."
All in the Family: "Watching television was a bit of a tradition in my family. I remember sitting on the bed with my grandmother when I was a kid. She would pay me 25 cents to rub cream on her feet. I loved watching old classic movies, especially the cheesy ones. We also watched All In The Family. That was the ultimate show."
Brad Attitude: "I used to want to be the hot guy. I'd go to an audition, and I'd know the part inside and out. And then this hot guy walks in, Brad Pitt Jr., and I'd think, He's going to get it. I may have the acting ability, but I don't have that hot guy thing. But hey, I'm not complaining... my personality is what got me here."
Got Milk Money? "When I was little, my mom would write checks for 85 cents for me to buy my school lunch with. I used to say, 'Come on! Give me some change.' And she'd say, 'I don't have any. I'm going to have to write you a check.' Do you know how mortifying it is to go to school and hand a check to the lunch lady?"
Michael's Mane Complaint: "I'm kind of high maintenance these days. I need an hour and a half to two hours per day to get myself presentable. I have to shave my entire head, and then I have to deal with the make-up part. It's quite a challenge. Meanwhile, Tom walks in, runs a comb through his hair, and they're ready to shoot. It's a shame, but I guess that's the price you pay for superstardom."
Singled Out: "I'll get women coming up to me and saying [in a Valley girl accent], 'Oh my God! Are you, like, in that show? Are you, like, Lex Luthor? You are so hot!' I'm always like, 'Uhhh, wanna get married?'"
Western theater graduate Michael Rosenbaum enjoying success
Show business may be the most competitive business there is, but that doesn’t stop Western Kentucky University theater graduates from having successful careers.
Many graduates have gone on to star in Broadway productions, television shows and movies. One such graduate is Matt Long, who stars as Jack McCallister in the WB’s “Jack and Bobby,” a show depicting the early years of two brothers, one of whom goes on to be president.
Another television star is Michael Rosenbaum, who graduated from Western’s theater program in 1995. He stars as Lex Luthor in the WB series “Smallville,” about the teenage years of Superman.
Rosenbaum has also appeared in several movies, including “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” “Urban Legend,” “Sweet November” and “Bringing Down the House.” Brown said he drew quite a crowd when he returned to Western this fall to speak to a freshman acting class.
“We had a room packed full of people,” Brown said. “He essentially said that fairy tales do come true. He talked to the kids about the good experiences he had here at Western and how they prepared him for what he’s faced out there. He’s been very successful.”
Brown said he didn’t recognize Rosenbaum’s talent as quickly as he recognized Long’s, but knew that Rosenbaum had the drive to be successful. That observation was reinforced when veteran actor and Western graduate Leo Burmester, who graduated in the early 1970s and has appeared in more than 50 movies and television series, visited Western and met Rosenbaum. After meeting him, Burmester told Brown he knew Rosenbaum would go places.
“He picked him out of all the other students here, and he was right,” Brown said.