Maxwell Lord is a complicated figure in the DC Comics Universe. He was created in the 1980’s with the goal of reforming the Justice League and putting the heroes back in the spotlight. Over time his path got darker and after the death of his mother, Lord became intent on eliminating meta humans altogether culminating in his execution of Ted Kord. On the surface Maxwell is a charismatic suave 80’s billionaire but underneath he is a master manipulator with the power to read and control minds.
Peter Facinelli is not stranger to playing a billionaire. In fact, most people know him from the Twilight series where he played Dr. Carlisle Cullen, a character who once Forbes listed as the most wealthy fictional character in existence. It seemed a natural transition then for him to take on the role of billionaire Maxwell Lord in CBS’s new hit series Supergirl. I got a chance to sit down with Peter at New York Comic Con to discuss his take on a the classic character and find out what it is like to work on such a iconic show.
On his take on Maxwell Lord
When I looked at the comics, he was more Donald Trump-esque and I said let’s do less Donald Trump, more Elon Musk. More of Steve Jobs. The billionaire today different than the billionaire or millionaire of yesterday. I think there’s a time when you could be a gruff hard businessman but I always think that you have more power in being charming and if you can win people over, then that gives you power. So I think that’s the version of my character. More George Clooney on GQ, less Donald Trump on the cover of Forbes.
On Lord’s Potential Mind Control
They say the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was that he made people think he didn’t exist. So if you can get in front the public and be charming and charismatic and have them love you, then you get the power. If you go there and play powerful, it turns people off. But I also think his agenda, in his mind, is not evil. I don’t think he’s somebody who wants to take over the world. I think he really wants to save the world. He thinks humanity should save themselves. If you start to look at it from his perspective, he’s right. These aliens are coming in. They’re causing chaos. Supergirl’s just a magnet for trouble. They’re destroying bridges and causing us to have to spend money to fix the damage that they leave behind. And if we didn’t have any of them, we’d have less problems. That’s his perspective and he thinks that humanity can save themselves and we don’t need them. There’s a fascination for him with superheroes. In his mind, he’s such a genius he’s like “If I could figure out how to harness that power, then we could use it. We’re not stuck at their disposal. If I could figure out how to harness it and use it for humanity, then we’re saving ourselves.” I don’t think he’s an evil person or has a bad agenda just a different perspective than some people have.
On Differences Between Lord and Luthor
Lex Luthor is bald. I think Lex Luthor is an evil genius. Lex Luthor wants to take over the world. Maxwell Lord is a billionaire. he has power. He doesn’t need to talk over the world. His agenda it to try to figure out a way to save humanity from itself. I don’t think he’s evil in the sense that Lex Luthor is. I mean even in the comics I don’t think he’s evil. He started the Justice League. He has mommy and daddy issues. he doesn’t like people being more powerful than he is so if he can figure out a way to harness that power then he doesn’t have to worry about someone else. He doesn’t really like superheroes. They’re like athletes and I’m the owner of the team. There’s a power in owning teams where everybody else is just athletes. They’re dispensable and they’re disposable. They’re great athletes but if this one breaks his ankle that one will take over. The power really is, in his mind, greater than theirs.
On Possibly Directing in the Future
I would like to direct. I’ve produced and I’ve written. I think film and television is a director’s medium. That’s who really gets to tell the story. If people ask me what I do, I always say I’m a storyteller. An actor tells a story using his body and his voice. He’s one part of a bigger story. When I’m a producer, I get to find the story and build the team around it and plant seeds to let that story grow. When I write it, I actually get to create that world. SO they’re just all different facets of storytelling. I don’t know if I’d direct Supergirl episodes but I like to direct. I wouldn’t say no.
On Working with Melissa Benoist aka Supergirl
It was very enjoyable. She’s such a talented actress. Sometimes when you work with actors, they’re in their own heads. They do their own things. Melissa’s very respondent. She’s just fun to play off of. Fun to work off of. It’s like a dance. Whatever I do, she’ll step. That’s always fun when you have someone whose present and there with you. Not to mention, she’s super sweet and one of the nicest people I’ve met. I always think energy trickles down from the top. When you have a lead who’s a diva or grumpy then all of the sudden all of the energy on the set is crummy. With Melissa being the lead, everybody enjoys going to work. She’s one of the hardest workers I’ve seen in a long time. Even coming off of Glee, I did a couple episodes of Glee. That cast worked hard. When they weren’t filming, they were learning dance numbers or singing. She’s doing green screen stuff, action stuff, seventeen hour days, dialog, having to get into that costume every day in hot weather. You never hear her complain. She’s always happy to be there. And that helps. It makes it enjoyable to go to work.
On The Relationship Between Lord and Cat Grant
She’s great. Calista’s great. I think our tensions is more like Dangerous Liaisons tension. They might be adversaries but they respect each other. There’s also a sexual tension there. They definitely have a history together. If they’re gonna zing each other, it’s playfully. I hope that it’s fun for the audience to watch them on screen.
On the Idea of a Supergirl Show
There’s been so many different versions, like Smallville. I was actually excited because I have three daughters and they were redoing Supergirl and I was like “I hope they get it right” and I think that they are. It’s a fun show that you can watch as an adult, but you can also watch it with your family. There’s stuff for everyone to enjoy. The action looks great. Everytime I get a script it’s like reading a comic book. It’s really enjoyable. I get a script and I sit down like a kid who just got a comic in the mail, I remember getting these comics in the mail. I’d be so excited. When I get them, they’d be chocked full of fun. That’s what I hope the audience takes away, having a good time. There’s also stuff in there that people can take from too. I think it’s great that there’s a female for my daughters to watch that they can look up to that is a strong character.
Peter Facinelli stars as Maxwell Lord on Supergirl every Monday night on CBS
Matthew Nando Kelly is an incredibly cool and handsome staff writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he focuses on film, television, music, and video games. Matthew also has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he discusses pop culture related brackets with fellow Pop-Break writer DJ Chapman. He has an unshakable love for U2, cats, and the New Orleans Saints. His twitter handle is @NationofNando. Did we mention how handsome he was?