Superman & Lois Star Tyler Hoechlin on The "Tunnel Vision" Needed To Be His Best Superman

This week on Superman & Lois, Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) took his son Jordan (Alexander Garfin) to the Fortress of Solitude. There, they "met" the hologram version of Jor-El (Angus MacFadyen), who helped Superman get a sense for what his son is capable of. After last week's heat vision blast, the Man of Steel is convinced that he needs to get his super-teen under control, but so far, the tests -- and basically everything else going on in Jordan's life -- are pretty frustrating. The teen drama has been kept to a minimum so far, but in a show that co-star Elizabeth Tulloch has said was heavily inspired by Friday Night Lights, things are likely to be pretty intense both in and around the Kent family for the foreseeable future.

With Lois taking on her former boss and his hologram dad seemingly eager to carry on Krypton's legacy, Superman is likely to be pulled in a lot of directions in the next few weeks. Hoechlin joined ComicBook recently to talk about the challenges of transforming the iconic superhero into a dad.

Has it been gratifying, the extent to which the reviews have been loving what you and Bitsie are doing?

Oh, that's great. I'll be honest with you, I don't read anything, so tht's good to know. Bitsie and I have such a great friendship, and such a great rapport, and it gets stronger every time that we work together, so it's been really great. I'm glad that that's translating to what you guys are seeing on your end as well. Because we have too much fun, man. I'm honestly shocked that we get anything done.

It is hard to believe that you guys would have teenagers. When you found out that that was part of the post-Crisis Superman, what was your first response?

"If you guys buy it, I'm in." That was my thoughts. [Laughs]

I think, obviously there's the idea that Superman ages more slowly, we introduced that I think when we did the first episode of Supergirl back in 2016. But at the end of the day, I think hopefully on screen, the chemistry between everybody in the family, it feels like a real family.

For whatever reason, I have always been told that I'm a bit of an old soul. When we were shooting Teen Wolf back in the day, we all assigned each other's Friends characters, and I was Richard. So I don't know if that, being 22 and being called Richard tells you anything, but I've always felt a little bit of that. And Alex Garfin and Jordan Elsass, they're so great. We've had such a good time working with them. That chemistry, at least for us on set, feels really natural.

The other thing too -- I actually talked to my mom the other day; she'd married my father when he already had two kids and they were 11 and nine when I was born and she was 25. So she was only a few years older than my older brother and sister. And she actually brought that up to me the other day and I was like, "Oh, that's actually really interesting. It's a great point." So it just is what it is. I think as far as we're concerned, I really focus on how it feels on set, what it feels like on our end and for us, it feels like it's working.

In the Arrowverse, the other family oriented show is Black Lightning. The post-Crisis timeline they showed on The Flash indicated that 15 years ago or whatever it was, it was basically Clark and Jefferson Pierce who were the superheroes that existed in the world. Any chance that we'll get to see beyond the one flashback some of what Clark's earlier days looked like?

I think it's probably fair to say we'll change it to work that in. I think the focus of this is family, and I think a lot of dealing with what he's going through now as a father and with his own boys and then recalling what he was like at that age, and having those moments of reflection. So I think it's probably safe to say that we'll continue to see how his present brings him back to his past.

What is it like being the odd superhero show out in the sense that you're a very rural kind of show, with a very different look?

I think it's fun. I think it's always fun to mix it up. I've been playing in that world with those guys in the crossovers and everything for the last few years. So it's something fresh in the same way that playing a new character is fresh. This is a new setting, and so there's different dynamics and obviously life is a lot different in small town than it is in a big city.

Those are going to be huge things for the characters to adjust to. We're not shooting in downtown Vancouver all the time, we're out shooting like an hour outside of town, and there's not a lot of buildings in sight. So it's different, but I think it's refreshing. I think it'll give people a different look, and it's still a huge part of the world. There's still a very, very large part of the world that is much more like that than it is like a big city.

Lee Toland Krieger, who directed these first two episodes, is really distinctive director. What has it been like for you guys to look at the first couple of episodes and see that really cinematic, really stylized feel for the show?

Lee is absolutely incredible. We're so lucky to have him. I thoroughly enjoyed that entire experience.

I actually am not watching, it's just a professional choice. I won't be watching. I did see at a group thing, an almost-finished version of the pilot, and that's going to be it for me. My work will be showing up and getting it to feel right on set, and then after that, letting it become what it becomes.

I will say, from the shots that I've seen, setting up on set and what I did see from the first episode, obviously when we do ADR and stuff, I see a shot here and there. I think the look that they've established for the show definitely sets it apart. I think it's noticeable from the very first frame. And I think it fits with the world that we're living in, and the story that we're telling. It feels right.
Supergirl is ending soon, and the Arrowverse is in a state of flux. Do you guys worry that you're walking into a situation where you have expectations that are mostly unrelated to your show?

I don't pay attention to them. That's the easiest way; I just don't. It's a narrow focus, it's tunnel vision, man. No matter what, there's always going to be people that love what you do, but there's always going to be people that hate what you do. If you focus on that, it just takes away from what you're trying to do on a daily basis. My focus is being as truthful to this character and the way that we see him here and what he stands for and what he represents, and then making sure that for me, the cast and the crew up here enjoy working on this show as much as we hope the audience enjoys watching it. And that's really where my focus lies. So at the end of the day, I can't do anything about that.

There's a lot of actors that I look up to, that I know have [avoided watching themselves], and it's something I've always contemplated, I think. When I was younger, they said that and I was like, "Oh, I wonder why they do that." But now, I think this is the right time for me to really lean into that.

It's not because people that I look up to do it and I don't understand it. I've got my own set of reasons. I just feel like for me to do my best work on this show, I need to know what I'm showing up and doing on set that day, and then after that, it doesn't concern me anymore.

As a kid, the only exposure I have to Superman was a few episodes of Lois & Clark that I watched with my mom and my brother back in the day. I just remember a few episodes, briefly seeing those. But as soon as I knew I was doing this, I very intentionally made the decision not to watch anything. I don't want to be tempted to emulate something that I think is great. I also don't want to be afraid to do something that I think is great just because someone else did it. So for me, it's much easier to just steer clear of it. Whenever this show is over, Bitsie and I joke about having a big marathon of watching all the old stuff. And so I'm sure we're looking forward to that at some point.


But for now it's just something that I prefer to stay away from, that way if I do something on accident that is something that Reeve did or something, I don't have to sit there and judge it like, "Oh, I'm copying him," it's just, I just happened to do it. And so for me, it's a much more clear-headed space to operate from ... to just go with your instincts and not judge them based on past things tried and failed or tried and succeeded.

I've even told people, I'm like, "Hey, just FYI, if I do something that reminds you of another Superman, don't tell me." Don't let me know, I don't want to know about it, because then I'll think about it, and then I'll feel like, oh, maybe I shouldn't do that. And for me, it's ignorance is bliss for the most part when it comes to that stuff for now. And then as we get more and more into the habit of this character, then maybe those things won't be so jarring. But at the moment right now, I just prefer to be in the dark about it. I've told them, "If there's something I really need to know about, let me know," but otherwise I'm going to continue to just operate from this place of understanding and how I see the character.