Melissa Benoist Online

I’ve added 59 HQ photos of Melissa filming Supergirl on October 28, 2015

 

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October 30, 2015Belle1 Comment

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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
September 27, 2015BelleNo Comments

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

Screen Gems has set two of the hottest stars on television for its feature film Oxford. Melissa Benoist, who’ll soon be starring as the title character in the CBS fall series Supergirl, will team with Sam Heughan, who plays the male lead role of Jamie Fraser on the Starz hit series Outlander.Oxford has a script by Allison Burnett, and Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey are producing.

Soon after arriving at Oxford U, an American Rhodes Scholar student falls for an arrogant teaching assistant who is quietly fighting terminal cancer. When she finds out the reason he is so standoffish, they make the most of each day, traveling the world together. Aside from Supergirl, Benoist’s recent films have been The Longest Ride and Whiplash. Burnett previously scripted Underworld: Awakening for Screen Gems, as well as Gone, Fame and Untraceable.

Heughan got a great deal of attention for his work in the final Outlander episodes, in which his swashbuckling character was raped by his nemesis. In a coincidence, the actor who played that other role, Tobias Menzies, also just signed on for a Screen Gems film as he will play a key role in Underworld: The Next Generation.

Benoist, who next appears in Billy Boy and Lowriders, is repped by UTA, Anonymous Content and Frankfurt Kurnit. Heughan is repped by UTA and in the UK by United Agents. Burnett is with Paradigm.

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August 30, 2015BelleNo Comments

I’ve added over 200 photos of Melissa at the 2015 CBS TCA Panel as well as the TCA party, as well as 20 HQ photos from a portrait session! Thanks to Mouza and Shannon for some of these photos.

 

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August 11, 2015BelleNo Comments

Supergirl will finally take flight on CBS this fall under much scrutiny: the premiere of the trailer earned both cheers and jeers on social media. But star Melissa Benoist is ready for whatever may come: The former Glee and Whiplash actor cites Gloria Steinem and Susan Sontag among the powerful women who have inspired her in her performance and says playing Kara Zor-El has taught her that strong women don’t have to be “b-tches” as they are often portrayed on TV.

TIME spoke with the actor at her first Comic-Con about the advice her Whiplash co-star Miles Teller gave her about green screens, her “musical Tourette’s” and overcoming her issues with confrontation.

This is your first time at Comic-Con. What do you think of all the cosplay?

I actually think the costumes and the dressing up is really cool. I was a kid who would dress up for showings at movie theaters. I was Hermione a couple times for Harry Potter. I dressed up for Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Star Wars—when Revenge of the Sith came out I wore an Obi Wan hood.

A lot of people, especially here at Comic-Con, have been waiting for a female superhero to return to the screen for a long time. Do you feel that pressure?

I think that comic book movies are at this place now that they’re so humongous. I think of Iron Man as the movie that kind of started this whole thing, and it’s just been too long: We’ve had some female characters who are badasses, but I think it’s just time for a female-centered heroic story.

Of course I feel pressure because of that. It feels big. I’m accountable for the message we’re trying to spread and what Supergirl does—whether she defeats a bad guy, how she defeats him, how she deals with her problems. But I think there’s this climate now where women are really speaking up and women aren’t afraid anymore. I know that this is not Gloria Steinem, but I think it’s important.

You mention Gloria Steinem. When you walk onto set and want to channel a powerful woman, who do you think about?

Her! Totally. And Susan Sontag, I’ve read a lot of her books. I love her. Anais Nin. In terms of women on television and in movies: Everyone says Meryl Streep but there’s a reason. She’s so strong and confident and independent. I grew up loving Judy Garland and Rosemary Clooney and just wanting to be the woman that affected people and made them feel something, made them feel more powerful.

You want to portray this empowered character, but when the Supergirl trailer first came out, a lot of people criticized it. They compared it to the SNL Black Widow rom-com spoof.

I expected that. I kind of knew when that skit came out, I was like, “Oh gosh. That looks familiar.” What I think is different is our show is a discovery. She’s never used her powers before. Black Widow was trained to be an assassin so putting her in that position she was in in the skit is ridiculous. But with Supergirl, we have room to grow. She doesn’t know how to be that badass quite yet. She’s learning how to be a woman.

Whenever you play a superhero you’re bound to be picked apart. Did you seek out any advice from your Whiplash co-star Miles Teller who is playing Mr. Fantastic in Fantastic Four this summer?

At the time I hadn’t booked Supergirl yet. But he had done Divergent, and he did talk to me about how difficult it was to act in front of a green screen and just like the sheer magnitude of how much money goes into these things and the special effects and how that creates a lot of pressure and how it will affect you.

So how is your first time in front of a green screen?

It’s flexing different acting muscles. I was raised in a musical theater sphere of this business, and playing a superhero in front of a green screen is a beast compared to that. You have to keep a grounded humanity even though you don’t have anything around you and you’re saying these one-liners. Finding the humanity to that is important to me, but it’s very difficult.

How do you manage that?

I try to imagine—say there’s a situation where they’re having me fly, and something is really dire and I have to go save someone and fight someone. I’m flying as if someone is mugging my mom, and I’m going to save her. I don’t know, you just have to root it in real situations.

But a musical theater background must help with that somewhat. In reality, not everyone sings everything that they feel.

True. Though I felt more normal doing that.

Are you a singing in the shower type person?

Oh, totally. Maybe it’s because I break out into song into my day-to-day life.

Do you walk onto the Supergirl set and just start singing?

All the time. There was one day where all I could think about when I was up in the wire flying was, “I got the power.” I couldn’t keep that inside. I have, like, musical Tourette’s.

They showed a preview of the pilot here. What has it been like watching yourself transform into a superhero on screen?

I usually don’t like to watch myself. I’m very critical. I don’t like looking at my face, and I’ll judge the tiniest twitch in my face. In this show, it’s different because when I’m in a suit, I don’t recognize myself. In the action fight scenes I don’t see Melissa, I don’t see her. I guess it’s easier to watch this.

What does your family think of you being Supergirl?

I think all of us think it’s funny. My mom was on set one day with my little sister, and we were up in the desert. There was fire everywhere. I was dirty and punching people. And I sat down next to my mom on a break, and she looked at me and laughed. She said, “I just never, ever pictured you doing something like this.”

If you came from this musical theater background and never pictured yourself doing action, what do you think it was about your audition that got you cast?

I’ve said this before, but it really rang true to me when it happened, [executive producer] Greg Berlanti said to me in one of my auditions, “You’re like the Annie Hall of superheroes.” I automatically felt that awkwardness and [how] weird she is. She’s just not figured herself out. She’s not comfortable in her own skin yet. I’m going through that as a woman myself. I’m 27, but I still feel like I have so much to learn about being a woman and having confidence and really using my strength and my femininity. Maybe it’s just the right place and the right time, but I’m glad it’s happening.

Is there anything that the character has taught you about being a woman?

Totally. Not to take any crap. I take no sh-t off of nobody. I’m a person that is really afraid of confrontation. I always have been. That’s slowly but surely fading in a way that’s graceful. I try to confront with grace and strength. I think part of it is when you see a lot of powerful women in movies and TV, they come across as b-tches or snarky or someone you don’t want to be friends with. I think a lot of what playing Kara has taught me is really doing it with positivity and hope and being a good influence.

People assume if a woman is powerful, she’s going to walk all over you or stab you in the back or something. It doesn’t have to be that way.

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July 12, 2015BelleNo Comments