Melissa Benoist Online

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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

I’ve added over 1000 1080p captures of Melissa in the pilot episode of Supergirl to the gallery!

 

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October 28, 2015Belle1 Comment

Warner Bros. is looking to continue its streak of sleek, successful superhero shows with this fall’s Supergirl on CBS. Superman has always worked best as a TV show; Smallville, for instance, captured the character’s essence and motives much more effectively than Man of Steel. Hopefully his cousin will benefit from the same treatment. To prepare you for the series’ debut, EW has rounded up everything we know about Supergirl so far.

What’s it about?

Former Glee star Melissa Benoist stars as Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin who also rocketed to Earth from their dying home world Krypton years ago. When we join them on Earth in the present day, Superman is already the established hero we know and love, while Kara sweats her job as an office assistant while struggling with how to use her superpowers. The show will follow her journey toward becoming a powerful, righteous superhero in her own right.

Why not ‘Superwoman?’

The show’s producers have anticipated possible backlash against the show’s title from the beginning, pointing out that Supergirl and Superwoman are actually two different characters in the DC comic universe.

“We knew going in that Supergirl might imply a younger audience, but we felt we could take a powerful word back and participate in introducing that to a new generation and say that doesn’t just mean young or inconsequential,” executive producer Greg Berlanti said during a panel at the TCA press tour in August. “It should be strong and bold. That was our goal.”

Will we see Superman?

Superman is a known presence in the world of Supergirl; he’s a role model superhero, gives Kara the material for her cape, and even shows up for a few (heavily-backlit) seconds of the trailer. His presence, however, opens the show up to the classic problem of DC heroes: if you have Superman, why do you need anyone else? Apparently, the explanation for Supergirl’s necessity will be that Superman’s busy with other things most of the time. Executive producer Ali Adler told EW at Comic-Con that their portrayal of Superman is based on the President in Veep, who is mentioned often enough that his presence is felt, but rarely (if ever) seen.

 

So who IS on the show?

Superman or no Superman, Supergirl is already building up quite a deep cast. Kara’s foster parents are played by Helen Slater and former Superman Dean Cain. Chyler Leigh is playing Alex Danvers, Kara’s adoptive sister. Alex has a big role in the trailer; her plane going down is what finally inspires Kara to use her powers for good. This dynamic should help separate her story further than Clark Kent’s setup, now pretty familiar after 10 seasons of Smallville, and possibly give the show a dose of Frozen-like sisterly love. True Blood’s Mehcad Brooks is playing Jimmy (sorry, James) Olsen, typically known as “Superman’s best friend” but apparently pals with Supergirl too. Olsen is usually portrayed as a hapless, nerdy redhead, but Brooks’ version is a strapping young man and possible love interest for Kara. Still an award-winning photographer, though.

Calista Flockhart and David Harewood will play Kara’s different bosses in her different worlds. As Cat Grant, Flockhart (whom Berlanti begged to take the role) is a mean, demanding journalist for whom Kara has to fetch coffee and schedule meetings. As Hank Henshaw, Harewood is an operative of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, coordinating with Kara to fight off dangerous alien invaders. No word yet on whether Henshaw will eventually transition to the villainous Cyborg Superman, his identity in the comics.

In addition to the regular cast, Supergirl will see some recurring appearances from various DC Universe characters. Peter Facinelli will play tech billionaire Maxwell Lord. Lord has a storied history in DC comics; he was once a good friend (and important financier) for the Justice League but eventually revealed himself as a villainous telepath, so there are plenty of story possibilities for the character in Supergirl.

In the tradition of shows like Smallville, Supergirl looks to adopt a villain-of-the-week format, at least for the beginning. Two such villains, the mutated insect Hellgrammite and the nuclear-powered Reactron, are already confirmed (portrayed by Justice Leak and Chris Browning, respectively).

In the third episode, Jenna Dewan Tatum will show up as Lucy Lane, Lois’ sister, who has a history with Olsen. Her father, General Sam Lane, is not far behind her. Glenn Morshower will be playing the old soldier who enlists Kara “in a dangerous government initiative,” according to Variety. General Lane will also have a connection to the Red Tornado, an android with the power to create powerful winds. Actor Iddo Goldberg will portray both Tornado and his mad scientist creator, T.O. Morrow. It remains to be seen, of course, whether Supergirl’s Red Tornado will prove able to overcome his programming and become a true superhero like his comics counterpart. With all these Lanes running around, it’s probably only a matter of time until we meet Lois herself, but that role remains uncast.

Finally, it’s possible that Laura Vandervoort, who portrayed Kara Zor-El on Smallville, may make a cameo in this Supergirl.

Will we see a crossover with Arrow and/or The Flash?

Greg Berlanti, the producer behind Arrow and The Flash, is also involved with Supergirl, which creates the tantalizing prospect of a crossover. Of course, since Supergirl is on CBS proper rather than the CW, this is a bit more logistically complicated than just having Grant Gustin’s Flash pop up in an Arrow episode. For now, the shows will cross over only in united promotional campaigns, according to CBS brass. We’ll have to wait and see how Supergirl might intersect with the Berlantiverse, which will soon include DC’s Legends of Tomorrow as well.

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September 20, 2015BelleNo Comments

Thanks to Haylie, I’ve added two HQ stills of Melissa in the pilot episode of Supergirl!

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June 21, 2015Belle1 Comment

Similar to last year’s Saturday during the fan confab, Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment are hosting another three-hour superhero night on July 11 with screenings and special appearances from returning series Arrow, The Flash and Gotham, as well as upcoming shows Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and their new digital series Vixen.

WBTVG’s schedule in San Diego is as follows:

Wednesday, July 8
WBTVG has traditionally carved out a spot on preview night with sneak peeks at their upcoming pilots. Comic-Con goers will get to see  Supergirl before it premieres on CBS on Oct. 26 at 8:30PM. The series follows the earth life of Kara who was born on the doomed planet of Krypton, and escaped at the same time as the infant Kal-El aka Superman.  She’s 24, living in National City and has a calling to defend the earth in between her day job as an assistant for Catco Worldwide Media.

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June 11, 2015Belle2 Comments
May 28, 2015BelleNo Comments

“Glee” showed us she can sing and she can dance — and now on CBS’ “Supergirl,” Melissa Benoist is going to prove to the world that she can fly, too.

“If we had not found her, I would have said ‘I don’t want to make this,’” says executive producer Greg Berlanti of Benoist, who was casting director David Rappaport’s pick for the role. Like Stephen Amell (“Arrow”) and Grant Gustin (“The Flash”) before her, he had her audition first to signal she was The One.

It worked — and Benoist landed one of the most coveted roles of pilot season. Here, she talks to Variety about the “surreal” feeling of playing a female superhero.

How do you get the role of Supergirl?

I believe I was the first girl they saw. I think the same went for Grant. Ten auditions later, three screen tests later, two and a half months later… I got the call. Greg championed me the whole time and was in my corner. Even when I didn’t think the part was mine, he was always rooting for me. That support goes a long way, especially when I’m fighting for something I want so badly. His belief in me really touched me.

Why did you want the part?

Not only because she’s a strong female and a female hero which I think is so important and will speak to so many people at this time right now in the world. I also was so drawn to her humanity, even though she is an extraterrestrial with powers. I was drawn to how flawed and complicated she is. She’s more complicated than you see in superheroes nowadays. Greg breathed that life into her from the get-go. He even said to me in one of the auditions, “She’s like the Annie Hall of superheroes” — and that sealed the deal for me. I was like, yes!

What did that mean to you?

Just that she is quirky and eccentric and intelligent and on this journey of self-discovery. She’s figuring out how to be a woman and the difficulties of that.

What it’s like working with Berlanti?

From the second I started auditioning for him, the kindness, the passion, and the intelligence just radiates off this man. He’s really an inspiration. It’s such a rough business to work in. Sometimes there are some bad eggs and people who don’t have their priorities set straight and he really does. He’s focused and driven and above all kind. It’s a dream to work for him.

How did you feel when the pilot got picked up?

Elated! I was on cloud nine. I kind of had an instinct that it would be (picked up) because we all worked so hard and Greg brings so much passion it’s really infectious. Everyone working under Greg busts their butts, so I was like, it’s going to happen. So when it did, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had all this energy and didn’t know what to do with it. I wish I could have really flown away and done some somersaults in the air.

Do you have any ideas where the show is going creatively?

I have a few ideas. I know generally who the big bad villain is. I know about Supergirl’s relationships. The whole team has given me a lot of freedom to create her as my own.

Do you feel any pressure?

Of course I do, but not in a negative way. I’m not necessarily a person who works well under pressure. But in this situation, I am so excited about it. I’m not going to let myself doing anything less than what I think people will want to see.

What does it feel like to play a superhero?

Not like what you would expect! There are the moments you feel like a badass and you feel empowered. You feel strong and confident. But I have to say there are moments when I step back and look at the bigger picture and I’m on the set with fire and explosions and I’m in the suit and I’ll have to do a doubletake and be like, “What am I doing?” This is hilarious and surreal and amazing.

Are you doing any of your own stunts?

A lot of them. My stunt double is amazing, Shauna Duggins. She is incredibly talented. There are some stunts that she does that I would never try. But I have been doing a lot and I want to keep doing them. Already I’ve fought a male on the show. Supergirl’s fight moves are boxing. She’s really heavy-handed. There’s some flying that involves kicking and punching mid-flight that’s kind of awesome.

What kind of training have you had to do?

Lots! The wirework for training is mostly core work. It’s mostly ab-centric — the whole area of the body that nobody wants to work out. You have to get strong. You have to carry your whole body weight when you’re up in the air.

Where do you see your career in five years?

I can only hope that I’m still doing things that inspire me as much as this does and things that I’ve been lucky enough to do so far. I never imagined myself getting a role like this. My 5-year-old self would be running up and down screaming if she knew this was going to happen.

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May 18, 2015BelleNo Comments

CBS has released a 6 minute long sneak peek at Supergirl! I really can’t wait for the show now, Melissa is amazing in it.

 


 

May 14, 2015BelleNo Comments