Melissa Benoist Online

On one hand, it was a cruel metaphor for the sexism women experience in their day-to-day lives. What does it say that even Supergirl, a fiercely competent woman with the same abilities as Superman, still lives in the shadow of a powerful man on a series bearing her own name? It’s unfortunate and upsetting. But on the other hand, you can’t ignore the fact that Superman is one of the most popular superheroes of all time, with several films and TV series under his belt. His appearance on the show was almost certainly inevitable.

“I think a couple people have heard of that character before,” executive producer Ali Adler jokes to TVGuide.com.

Indeed, Superman’s popularity within popular culture and within the show’s narrative meant Supergirl couldn’t ignore the character entirely. The idea that he wouldn’t aid Kara when the world is in danger was absurd. It’s why during Supergirl’s first season the character “appeared” to speak with Kara (Melissa Benoist) over instant message and quick glimpses of his silhouette popped up toward the latter half of the season. But eventually show’s ability to explain away his absence in certain situations became too much. Thankfully, the character will make his first on-screen, present-day appearance in the show’s Season 2 premiere (Monday, Oct. 10, The CW).

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October 08, 2016BelleNo Comments

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Between new shows like Jessica Jones and Legends of Tomorrow, and the ever-expanding casts of Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and more, you can’t throw a rock at this year’s TV lineup without hitting a brand-new superhero. But none of those caped crusaders are under quite as much scrutiny as Melissa Benoist’s Kara Zor-El on Supergirl. When the show debuts Monday night on CBS, she will become the first female superhero to lead a show in nearly 40 years—yes, since Lynda Carter’sWonder Woman went off the air. Glee alum Benoist is naturally excited about all the buzz her show has generated and willingly embraces the role of vanguard in a new era of female comic-book characters, but she’s also hoping that one day we’ll focus more on the “super” and less on the “girl.”

“People are crazy for Kryptonians!” Benoist says of the hundreds of costumed people—men, women, and children alike—who flocked to her panel at San Diego’s Comic-Con this year. But along with that anticipation comes added pressure, on everything from the overall Superman legacy to that rite of passage for the modern filmed superhero: debuting the costume design online. Did Benoist think her costume was more heavily criticized than that of her male counterparts, like The Flash’s Grant Gustin or Arrow’s Stephen Amell? “It felt that way. It definitely did,” Benoist says. “You’re going to get some people who want it to be more revealing. Because it’s a girl and because they have different bodies than men I think people were really picky about it.”

The muted tones of the Colleen Atwood design are a palette match for Henry Cavill’s cinematic Superman, and there’s nothing about Benoist’s suit that plunges, clings, or hikes up. The skirt may be short, but the tights are opaque and further photos reveal a low, sensible heel on those red leather boots. Benoist thinks she made out much better than some female superheroes before her. “I think it’s modest in that you can believe someone could fight for their lives in that suit without having a wardrobe malfunction and something popping out. That’s what I never understood about Wonder Woman. I’m like, ‘How does she fight?’”

The online debate over Benoist’s costume was anticipated by a scene in the pilot, in a montage that recalls the famous “no capes!” scene from Pixar’s The Incredibles. When Kara Zor-El emerges with the bare torso so many costumed female fighters have had to endure in the past, her character says firmly while covering up her exposed skin, “I’m not flying around saving people in this. I wouldn’t even wear it to the beach.” Benoist says, “The moment in the two-piece, I think that was our nod to people who might want that, and that was their one chance to see it, and we’re never doing it again.”

It’s not the only meta-nod to the conversation around the show that made its way into the pilot. Calista Flockhart’s media-mogul character, Cat Grant ,is the one responsible for branding Kara as Supergirl. When the use of “girl” is questioned by Kara herself, Grant replies, “What do you think is so bad about ‘girl’? I’m a girl. And your boss, and powerful, and rich, and hot, and smart. So if you perceive ‘Supergirl’ as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?” It’s a little on the nose, but as Benoist points out “just the fact that Supergirl exists is feminist.”

If both Supergirl and its darker Netflix counterpart, Jessica Jones, are a hit with audiences, we can expect them to pave the way for even more on-screen female superheroes beyond the Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel films currently in the works at Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios. Of those long-awaited films, Benoist says, “I don’t really understand why people haven’t always been ready for this. I think there are so many really successful franchises right now like Hunger Games, and I was a huge Buffy fan. I wish there were more of a pattern and more of a consistency to there being really strong female-driven stories.”

And with that lack of consistency comes the major hype, and pressure, on something like Supergirl, where Kara Zor-El’s gender matters far more than it ever would for Superman. When asked if focusing so much on gender in Supergirl frustrated her, the actress replied, “You know, I hate to say that I do because I consider myself a feminist. I’m very proud to be a woman. But I do think focusing on it so much that you forget that it’s a story about humanity and what it means to be saving people’s lives. I don’t know if it’s frustrating, but I don’t know the word for it.”

As for the future of female superheroes in television, Benoist takes the long view. “Even after this show stops airing I hope that more and more strong females keep coming. If there were great parts for women on every other show then we wouldn’t even have to have this conversation at all.”

October 28, 2015BelleNo Comments

CBS has officially found its Supergirl. After months of speculation, the network has tapped actress Melissa Benoist to play the titular hero in its small screen version of the iconic DC Comics story.

The hourlong drama, produced by Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash), centers on Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, who was born on the planet Krypton but escaped amid its destruction years ago. After arriving on Earth, she was taken in by a foster family, the Danvers, who taught her to be careful about exposing her extraordinary abilities. Now at age 24, Kara is finally ready to start embracing her powers and use them to help the people of her city.

For Benoist, the highly anticipated Supergirl project will mark her first leading role on screen. The 26-year-old actress made her film debut in the 2008 Mariah Carey film, Tennessee, and has appeared in episodes of various shows, including Blue Bloods, Law & Order: SVU, The Good Wife, and Homeland. But it wasn’t until 2012 that she got her big break, playing Marley Rose on Fox’s Glee. Benoist joined the musical cast during season four, after many of the show’s original characters either moved to New York or left the show altogether, and reprised the role during the show’s fifth season as well.

Since then, she has continued to break out, nabbing a supporting role in last year’s critically acclaimed indie film Whiplash (an Oscar-nominated picture). Now, having a high-profile leading role in one of Hollywood’s most popular genres, the actress could soon become a household name.

Per Deadline, the project underwent a lengthy casting process, bringing in several on-the-rise actresses in the appropriate age range to test for the lead. Benoist edged out the likes of Vampire Diaries’ Claire Holt and Once Upon a Time’s Elizabeth Lail, both of whom were also reportedly considered for the part. The actress shared her excitement on her social media account, tweeting, “But seriously, sans emoji… I AM SO EXCITED! #Supergirl.”

Supergirl received a hefty series commitment from CBS back in September. The drama will be penned by Berlanti and Ali Adler (No Ordinary Family), both of whom will also exec-produce alongside Sarah Schechter of Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. TV.

The show, which will mark the first superhero series on CBS in 25 years, comes after the other major networks have already jumped on the comic bandwagon. The CW has both of Berlanti’s other superhero-themed vehicles, Arrow and The Flash, both of which have already been renewed for their next season. Fox has found success with its Batman prequel Gotham — which premiered this past fall after receiving a series commitment, like Supergirl. NBC gave it a shot with their Hellblazer take Constantine, although the series will end after 13 episodes. Meanwhile, ABC has Agents of SHIELD and the recently premiered miniseries, Agent Carter. Netflix is also kicking off a slate of four new Marvel series in April with Daredevil.

The show is still working on rounding out the rest of its cast. Aside from her forthcoming turn as Supergirl, Benoist also has roles in two upcoming films: The indie comedy drama Danny Collins, and the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Longest Ride, both scheduled to hit theaters this year.

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January 23, 2015BelleNo Comments

Congratulations, Melissa!

 

Melissa Benoist got her break when she was cast as a female lead in the William McKinley High School storyline on Glee when most of the Fox dramedy’s original stars saw their characters either move to New York or leave the show.

Now Benoist has landed an even higher-profile leading role that could make her a household name overnight — she has been cast in the title role of CBS’ pilot Supergirl.

Based on the characters from DC Comics, the project, from Warner Bros. TV and studio-based Berlanti Prods., centers on Kara Zor-El (Benoist). Born on the planet Krypton, Kara Zor-El escaped amid its destruction years ago. Since arriving on Earth, she’s been hiding the powers she shares with her famous cousin, Superman. But now at age 24, she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be.

Written by Greg Berlanti and Ali Adler, the project went through an extensive casting process, with several young actresses testing for the lead. Benoist had been consistently in the mix, first alongside Claire Holt and more recently considered along with Elizabeth Lail.

Benoist, repped by UTA, Anonymous Content and Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Setz, has a supporting role in the feature Whiplash, which is nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. She will next be seen in the film The Longest Ride, opposite Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood.

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January 23, 2015BelleNo Comments

Glee hits its 500th musical performance Thursday (9:30/8:30c on Fox), so in honor of that milestone, we decided to make a big production over New Directions’ new powerhouse Melissa Benoist, 24. If you think her Marley Rose is a sweetheart, that’s nothing compared to the delightful Colorado native who plays her.

1. She’s got chops and charm. Called a “ravishing, golden-throated, raven-haired beauty” by none other than Sue (Jane Lynch), transfer student Marley shares an undeniable likability with Benoist. It’s no wonder the character has Jake (Jacob Artist) and Ryder (Blake Jenner) swooning over her. “I wish it was like that in real life,” Benoist says with a laugh.

2. She’s persistent. Even though she was living in New York at the time, Benoist endured round after round of tryouts in L.A. “After, like, seven auditions, it happened,” she says.

3. She rocks. Ditties by Regina Spektor, Colbie Caillat and Glee alum Idina Menzel were among her audition songs, and Benoist also wanted to do something by the Talking Heads. “But that would have been too weird!”

4. She loves her on-screen mom. “Trish [Rae Stahl] is an amazing person,” she raves of the actress who plays much-mocked lunch lady Millie. “That sweetness you see? That’s real.”

5. She gives her costars props. Benoist praises fellow new cast members Artist and Becca Tobin (who plays Kitty) for helping ease her fears when she joined the show. “It would have been very different had they not been there,” she says. “I’m so grateful.”

March 08, 2013BelleNo Comments

Before Glee‘s fourth season started, everyone was focused on what was to become of Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith), Kurt (Chris Colfer) and the rest of the McKinley gang. But we (almost) forgot about all of that the first time we laid eyes (and ears) on Melissa Benoist‘s character Marley. And that is why she is one of our Breakout Stars of 2012.

She proved to be a refreshing and talented addition to Glee, and while we adore the New York storylines, we don’t mind staying at McKinley to see what happens with Marley. We hopped on the phone with Benoist to talk about her big Glee debut, Michael Fassbender mania and what those long hours on set are really like.

Did you know how big your character was going to be when you auditioned?
Melissa Benoist: It was pretty much under wraps. I knew vaguely about her. The breakdown for the role said: “a girl guys might have a crush on.” [Laughs]. I did know initially that she was poor and the storyline with her mom was a part of the audition.
How was your first day on set? Did you feel nervous joining a cast who had already been together for so long?
Of course I was. I was really nervous. It was a strange feeling of intimidation, but they are the most welcoming and fun group of people. It’s infectious to be around them. On the first day, I think I was there for 12 hours in the choir room, and within the first five hours we were all already joking around and having a ball.

Glee fans are very passionate about the show. Were you worried about any backlash from the Gleeks?
Of course I was. They are…a different breed of fan. Thankfully, it’s been a lot of positive support. But there are people who just have very strong opinions about what they like and what they don’t like on the show. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but sometimes it is a bit jarring reading what fans have to say.

Marley had a very intense storyline with her eating disorder. What was your reaction when you found out you’d be tackling that heavy topic?
I feel very fortunate. I really like that kind of stuff. Part of the reason I do what I do is I like exploring issues like that. When Ryan Murphy first told me, it was my first week of work and he brought Jacob Artist and I into his office and said: “I really want Marley to be relatable and I think she’s going to have an eating disorder and go through something like that, so do your research now. I want it to be truthful and honest.” And that was something that I was really striving for.

 

So what’s coming up next for Marley?
There are bright things for her future. I think she had to do through what she went through to really appreciate her strengths and recognize her weaknesses. It’s a new day for her coming up.

If Glee gets a season five, would you want to be apart of it?
Oh, of course I would. I’m having so much fun working on the show. It’s the greatest group of people and I’m learning so much. We’re working so hard and so much, every day feels like a class. It’s just awesome.

What entertainment stuff were you obsessed with in 2012?
I’m obsessed with Michael Fassbender. He’s unbelievable. I think he’s a modern day Brando. Every movie that he’s done in the past couple years I just died for him. He’s extremely fascinating.

Now that 2012 is coming to a close, what do you hope to see for yourself in 2013?
I don’t know. I have a very optimistic view of my future right now. I’m very excited to see where it goes, but I try not to make plans just because I know how unpredictable life can be. Especially the life of an actor, and especially the life of an actor on Glee. I just want to be happy and healthy and surrounded by people I love, as cheesy as it sounds.

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December 28, 2012BelleNo Comments

Attenion all Gleeks! Melissa Benoist, who plays Marley Rose on the Fox musical comedy, has a very important announcement.

“Some people tweeted me that they thought she was dead, but she is not dead,” Benoist tells TVGuide.com. “She is alive.”

Phew! But just because the glee club newbie survived a fainting spell brought on by her eating disorder during Sectionals, her battle is far from over. Not only will Marley have to start taking better care of herself — physically and emotionally — but she’ll also have to work to win New Directions over after jeopardizing their shot at Regionals. Benoist talked to TVGuide.com about Marley’s road to recovery, her research for the “daunting” storyline and the possibility of another Glee tour.

When did the writers first tell you that Marley was going to have such a dramatic story?

Benoist: The first week of work, [creator Ryan Murphy] brought Jacob [Artist] and I into his office and [was] just talking with us about what his vision was for the characters. He said, ‘I’m really thinking about Marley having an eating disorder and dealing with bulimia. It definitely was a daunting thing to hear, but in the best way. As an actor, you can only hope for something with that much depth and something to dig into that much.

What was your first reaction when you read the script and saw that this story line would go that far?

Melissa Benoist: I had an inkling. I knew that something drastic needed to happen to knock some sense into Marley or to make her realize that what she was doing was extremely damaging to her psyche and to her physical well-being.

Where does the next episode pick up and what are the next steps for Marley?

Benoist: She’s at this point where she can wipe the slate clean, really. It’s at this point now where she needs to rebuild in a certain sense.

Is there a person in particular who will help her through this?

Benoist: Obviously, her mom is going to be a huge part of her recovery and there’s therapy. [It’s] just her being very open and honest about it from this point. But it’s definitely not over.

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December 06, 2012BelleNo Comments

“I am a recycling Nazi,” says Becca Tobin, who joined the cast of “Glee” this season as Kitty. “I’m the girl who asks where you are putting a plastic bottle. I also try to cut out buying bottled water so I use a Brita filter. I wanted a Prius, but that didn’t work out, because I had to get a car quickly,” she adds. “But my next car will definitely be a hybrid.”

Her castmate Melissa Benoist (Marley) supports environmental charities. “I donate monthly to the Wildlife Conservation Society, and at Christmas I make an even bigger donation. I’ve been doing that the last couple years, and I love what they do.”

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October 25, 2012BelleNo Comments