Mehcad Brooks talks Supergirl, the new James Olsen, and Elastic Lad

Photo Credit: Trae Patton/CBS
Photo Credit: Trae Patton/CBS

You may know Mehcad Brooks from Desperate Housewives, True Blood, or Necessary Roughness but after tonight that is all going to change. Mehcad is starring alongside Melissa Benoist and Calista Flockhart on the new CBS series Supergirl. He plays Jimmy James Olsen, a more confident and independent photographer from Metropolis who is attempting to make a new name for himself while looking after Kara Zor-El as a favor for an old friend. We got a chance to sit down with Mehcad during New York Comic Con and talk about the new show. He gets into what he is looking forward to from the character, handling the legacy, and the show’s relationship with Superman himself.

What are you bringing differently to the character of Jimmy Olsen?

Swag. Basically, they’re allowing me to be who I am. They’re not trying to make me fit a mold from the past. The DNA of the character is the same. Jimmy was created in 1940. We had a much different world back then. People lived monochromatic existences. You really can’t blame them for writing what they knew. Had Jimmy been made last year, maybe he would have been me. So we’re just writing some of the social inequities from the past. It’s not that the characters changed so much as that we’re taking cultural liberties with him as he might be today.

How familiar are you with the legacy?

I grew up with DC Comics. Superman and Batman were my favorites. Jimmy being a part of that world is just icing on the cake.

Who do you get along best with on the cast?

Honestly everybody. Melissa and I met during the chemistry read. We hit it off immediately. Jeremy Jordan’s amazing,. We just break out in song and dance all the time. Calsita’s lovely. She’s so funny. You would not believe it.  But She could probably do stand up if she wanted to. Chyler’s amazing. Really kick ass girl. She’s awesome. David’s incredible. He’s got this British humor and it’s great. I love everybody. It’s a dream come true. It’s a really well gelled cast. We’re very lucky. Very very lucky. It’s few and far between that people get along this well for this long.

What can we expect from James as the show goes on?

There is an attraction between he and Supergirl. He definitely knows a lot more about the superheroic world than Kara does at times so he’s kind of a liaison for her. Jenna Dewan-Tatum comes on. I can’t say who she’s playing. It’s a lot of great stuff. You’re gonna love him. They’re kinda making Jimmy into a hero.

"Fight or Flight" -- Supergirl's powers are tested when Reactron, one of Superman's formidable enemies, arrives in National City and targets the young hero, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, Nov. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Mehcad Brooks and Jenna Dewan-Tatum Photo: Trae Patton/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
“Fight or Flight” — Supergirl’s powers are tested when Reactron, one of Superman’s formidable enemies, arrives in National City and targets the young hero, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, Nov. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Mehcad Brooks and Jenna Dewan-Tatum Photo Credit: Trae Patton/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

What is the balance like on the show between action and slice of life?

The coolest thing about this show is the fact that it’s a great show without the heroics. It’s a workplace drama. It’s a workplace romance. It’s Grey’s Anatomy but she has a cape. You really care about these characters in this world and their relationships and you can watch it without saving people too. it’s a great show without that. I think that’s what Berlanti’s done. He’s cracked the code of superhero shows where you’d care about these character without a bunch of super-heroics. That’s a cool thing.

How has the fan’s reaction been?

The people that have embraced me have a warm embrace. I think the ones that are gonna have adverse opinions aren’t going to come up to me. I’m not a small guy. Everybody has been really supportive that I’ve met. I stay off of forums and fan stuff. It’s not fair for me to voice my opinion in that regard.

Were you familiar with Arrow and Flash before Supergirl?

I watch Flash for sure. Arrow, I’ve seen a couple episodes. I like em both a lot. Flash is my joint. They shoot in Vancouver and luckily we’re in LA. I’ve met Grant once but other than that we’re all in our little separate bubbles shooting 15 hour days just trying to stay healthy.

What was the casting process like?

It was rigorous. I went in for a pre-read, which is something I haven’t done in years. You see Supergirl on the appointment sheet and you do what you’ve gotta do. I went in a total of five times. It’s a lot, these days. It was worth it, 100%.

Did you get any advice from his Desperate Housewives Co-star Teri Hatcher?

She’s a friend. She’s been supportive. She says to have fun. Dean Cain’s in the show which is great. Terri’s always been a good friend since Housewives. Any advice she has, I’ll take. She knows what’s up.

What Jimmy Olsen comic books stories would you like to adapt?

I want him to get all the superpowers he had in the comics and destroy things because I’m destructive in nature. There is a lot of cool stuff that happened to him. he was kind of the scapegoat of these weird superpowers so I just thought it would be kind of cool if that happens. It would be pretty interesting to play Elastic Lad and get Superman’s bizarro powers one day.

elasticlad

What is James’ relationship with Superman?

It’s still cannon. We’re not changing really anything. I think the main thing we’re changing is the ethnicity and that’s it. He’s still Superman’s best friend. Think about if Jimmy Olsen is hanging out with Superman for a long time and then he’s like “You know what. I want to be my own man.” So you go to confidence boot camp. You go to the gym. You change your style. He get’s a Pulitzer Prize for photographing Superman. He gets a better job. That’s who were dealing with now. We’re dealing with a Jimmy Olsen who’s come into his own. So now he’s Jame Olsen. He goes “Call me James. You know what I’m saying? My mom calls me Jimmy and Superman calls me Jimmy because I can’t kick Superman’s ass.”

Does Superman make an appearance?

There’s references to him. There’s the allusion to him a lot. It’s done very tastefully. The show is about Supergirl. You want to make it about strong feminine qualities. Superman has enough. It is what it is. We don’t really want to bring too much attention to him. We want to keep it on her. She deserves it. Shes fantastic. She’s really great and a hell of a hero. I’m inspired.

Why do you think now is the right time? 

We’ve been ready for female superheoes to be in the forefront of society for a long time. I think society has not been ready. That’s the problem.  It’s the same as Barack Obama being president. It’s not that there hasn’t been a qualified black person to be president. It’s just that our society has not been ready to accept one. I’m happy because were getting to a place where people aren’t seeing females as a minority group. They’re most of the country. I think it’s a very interesting questions. People say “Are we ready for that?” I think it’s long past due. I’m happy. I’m really happy to be a part of that.

Watch Mehcad Brooks as Jimmy Olsen on Supergirl which premieres tonight on CBS

Matthew Nando Kelly is the cool and tough Managing Editor of Pop Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he makes pop culture brackets with fellow writer DJ Chapman.

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