Supergirl's Iddo Goldberg On Red Tornado, T.O. Morrow and the Costume Controversy


Tonight's episode of CBS's Supergirl brings in Iddo Goldberg as both Dr. T.O. Morrow and, somewhat unexpectedly, as Morrow's best-known creation, the Red Tornado.

Red Tornado, of course, is a long-time Justice League member and the mentor to the original Young Justice. Created by Morrow as a foe to the League, he gained sentience and couldn't overcome the fundamentally decent person at the wheel, so he became a hero instead.

In TV, he's the product of a government project commissioned by General Sam Lane to stand against Supergirl.

Goldberg joined to discuss the appearance, playing two characters (one of whom is a robot) and of course, the controversial costume.

Supergirl, which just got a full-season order of seven additional episodes in 2016, airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

As soon as we see that you were cast, the press release itself kind of baffled comic book people. What can you say about the relationship between Dr. Morrow and the Red Tornado?

I think the Red Tornado is Dr. Morrow's life. I think to me, the Red Tornado was everything that Dr. Morrow wanted to be, and that's kind of how I thought of it.

In this episode, Red Tornado is presented as a military experiment, so to speak, and General Sam Lane hires the services of Dr. Morrow to create this thing to challenge Supergirl. But I think for Dr. Morrow, this has been something that he's been working on all his life and possibly the most precious thing to him.

With a lot of these roles, the pat question is how you wrestle with playing this iconic character with baggage and history. Here, is it interesting that you're doing that two-in-one? I imagine doing homework for that can be daunting.

Well, no. Nothing about this is really daunting apart from the fact that I obviously really respect the DC world and everyone who loves the DC world. To me, it always felt like those are the people who really own these characters, so that was something that I thought about and had great respect for.

I had fun looking into all this stuff and preparing for it. There's a guy named Pedro at Golden Apple Comics at Melrose and LaBrea who was amazing and who gave up time to talk to me about the character, and I had a lot of fun.

There's also a responsibility to the moments that are written in the script, and I think sometimes you can get too bogged down by going deeper and deeper and deeper. Michael Grassi and Rachel Shukert, who wrote the script, did such a great job with it. There's respect to that whole process as well, so you really want to concentrate on those moments.

Being someone who's not a huge comic book fan in my life, you can't have known about the whole world. This is something that people have invested lives into and read for years and years and years. I would never have learned all of that stuff in one minute. So I did a lot of research, but a realistic amount of research in respect to the actual moment that I was playing in the episode itself.

Playing two characters in the same production is a challenge a lot of actors have said they like to do.

Oh, yeah. That's completely a dream come true, absolutely.

Since both of your "aspects" get to play off of Glenn Morshower, who is a great actor, was that a great opportunity to kind of feel out that space and bounce different ideas off of the same actor in different ways?

Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, our relationship with Glenn and Dr. Morrow and Glenn and Tornado were so different, and it was a lot of fun. My relationship with him as Red Tornado, as Red Tornado becomes sentient and goes crazy and rogue was almost more of a physical relationship. Red Tornado was made to take down everything in its path and my relationship with him as Morrow starts pretty harmoniously but then turns pretty sour.

But he is a powerhouse. He's a fantastic actor who's been around for a while and really knows what he's doing, and at the same time is very generous and open. He was wonderful to work with.

The immediate response when the costume was released was that it looked a lot like Apocalypse. There were some detractors, but at the same time it kind of feels like being compared to something that came out of a big-budget feature film is hard to take as an insult.

It is. I've got to be honest with you: I see it in two ways.

The first is that whenever I read anything negative about myself in the press, it gets to you, obviously, but there's something I've always had when it's positive stuff, is to be kind of like, "Oh, they don't know what they're talking about. They can't mean that." So why should I believe the negative stuff? So I just try to let it be whatever it is. It takes me a while to get to that point but you've got to make peace with it.

The other, I had so much fun in this job and Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and Ali Adler and Sarah Schechter just know what they're doing and I was thrilled to be working with them. So I got so much about of this process, as well as working with Jesse Warn, who's an amazing director, and Melissa and Chyler and Mehcad and Jenna. It's a great cast, so I kind of felt like I had such a great time, I couldn't allow that to get myself down.

I thought the costume looked pretty damn great, so I feel like people are going to actually change their minds when they see the show. The character has been given real opportunity to be really badass and he really brings it to Supergirl, and I think that when people see that, they're going to think twice about comments that they made about the costume, which I didn't think really deserved it.

You as somebody who wasn't a big comic book fan, was it a valuable resource to have Andrew and Greg and Geoff to bounce off of?

Yeah. I was coming back from holiday and I got this amazing letter from Andrew, asking if I wanted to be on the show, and I obviously jumped at the chance. I called in and we had a great conversation and he was really clear and he was really specific and like I was saying before, they really know what they're talking about. I didn't feel like I had to keep going back to him to get more and more out of him; I feel like he was just really there and together and he knew what he wanted out of it.

After that it was going to all these fittings and going through this whole process of getting molds put on your face and creating this amazing costume. Everybody knew what they were doing; I never felt like I was in unsafe hands in the whole process. What was left for me to do was just take my own energy to it and have a great time. And whenever I've seen pieces of the episodes, they're just shocking and beautiful and I think the fans are going to be in for a treat.


When you were first offered the job, what was your first job when you were told that you were going to be playing a robot? Is that a challenge?

It was a challenge, but I was more excited by the fact that I was going to play two characters to think about the fact that I was playing a robot. When I did think about it, I came to a very quick realization with Jesse Warn and Andrew that I didn't want him to move like a robot. It needed to seem like there was a fluidity in him and I didn't want him to seem like he wasn't prepared to take Supergirl on. I wanted him to be as fluid and as human as possible because I think the costume does so much already that I didn't want to move around in a stiff manner. Jesse and Andrew were very much on the same page, but what was challenging was all the action stuff that we had to do. We shot a very big fighting sequence in the desert and that was pretty challenging. Melissa really brought it and I thought, "I'd better bring it, too. Obviously, she was great. She's a great actress and I think she's perfect for this role.