Superheroes, Sports, and the Supernatural: Story Time with Tyler Hoechlin

Tyler Hoechlin, star of Superman & Lois
Photo by Bill Watters

Dragon Con gave a warm welcome to first-time attendee Tyler Hoechlin for his panel “It’s a Bird, It’s a Werewolf…It’s Tyler Hoechlin!” Friday morning at 11:30AM in Hyatt Regency VI–VII. Hoechlin may be new to the con, but he’s not new to Atlanta, having lived here a decade ago during filming of the first two seasons of his first long-term television series, Teen Wolf. Now he’s moved on to playing one of the most iconic characters in popular culture as the titular superhero on Superman & Lois.

When asked about taking on the role, he said he’d seen some of the Superman films and an episode or two of Lois & Clark, but once he won the part, he chose to avoid watching previous performances.

“I grew up playing sports and acting, so I missed it all. And then I intentionally avoided it,” he said. “When you’re playing a beloved character that’s been around for 83 years, it’s tough. I don’t want to go into the scene thinking, I want to do that, but so-and-so did that.”

Even playing an icon doesn’t mean you’re easily recognizable though, which Hoechlin illustrated with a story from dinner with his brother recently.

“The server came over and said, you look just like this guy, he’s been in all these movies! I swear! And I just kind of let it keep going,” he admitted.” And he said, it’s like a Superman movie, but it’s not a movie, it’s a TV show! He figures it out, and he pulls up pictures from the show, and I said, yeah, I can kind of see that.

“Finally I asked, do you watch it? Is it any good? And he says, ‘It’s not bad.’”

He has been mistaken for other actors, though, most notably Jesse Metcalfe from Desperate Housewives.

“They almost made me miss my flight,” he said of the security agents at the airport who thought he was Metcalfe. “They’re holding me at security, taking pictures, and JR Bourne [his Teen Wolf co-star] was on the flight waiting for me. He actually had to go up to the flight attendants to get them to reopen the door to let me on the plane.”

Hoechlin, who played baseball seriously until he injured his leg in college, is still a sports guy, often using sports-related metaphors as he speaks. His current truest fandom?

“Fantasy football,” he said. “I have four drafts in the next three and a half days. I follow any sport, especially in postseason, but right now it’s all about fantasy football. I like the complexities of it.”

His television and movie fandoms run a wider gamut.

“My biggest one was Game of Thrones,” he said. “I loved that show. Peaky Blinders is my other one. I’ve also enjoyed the DC and Marvel stuff. I was a huge Iron Man fan, what Robert Downey Jr. did with that. It’s amazing the doors it opened for this genre. We can do the genre justice now.”

Hoechlin started acting young, but his earliest big role came in the Tom Hanks–led film Road to Perdition. He said the best thing about working with Hanks and fellow legendary actor Paul Newman was “to see how they conducted themselves.”

“That was the most invaluable experience,” he said. “They were the nicest guys, treated every crew member like that they were in charge. I never talk about their performances, I just talk about how nice they were as people.”

Hoechlin mentioned that he was learning a new language, something he’s done several times over the years.

“I’m currently learning French,” he said. “I tried Italian when I was living here and got decent at it, but if you don’t practice, you lose it. If I could have a superpower, it would be knowing all languages. Just to be able to talk to people in their native language when traveling.”

He also discussed playing father to two teenage boys, a role he’s a little young for.

“I tap into who my dad is, how he raised us,” he said. “As someone who wants to have kids someday, I’ve taken notes so I can be like my dad. Plus my brother has kids, so I get to be an uncle. It’s my parents, it’s my older brother, it’s my high school baseball coach—I just draw from all of that. It’s a good practice run for me.”

One of the things he particularly likes about Superman & Lois is the family focus, with the superhero aspects more in the background.

“The central focus from day one is family-centric,” he said. “It’s important to the show, it’s what keeps it relevant.”

Hoechlin also took a number of questions from fans:

You voiced Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII Remake. How did that role come about? Did you play video games growing up?

I auditioned for it. I haven’t done much voiceover work, and about 6 months later, I checked my phone after a movie and said oh! I guess I’m doing it. It’s something new and different. It’s a weird experience being locked in for four hours hearing yourself talk. But it’s a lot of fun. A lot of technical work going on, too. The first hour, it’s like, “They shouldn’t have hired me for this,” but then you settle in, and it’s fine.

I played a lot of video games growing up, but I wouldn’t call myself a gamer. Ken Griffey Jr. baseball [Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball], Mario Bros., Halo… way too many nights on Halo. Lot of sunrises with video games.

Is there any comic character that hasn’t been in Arrowverse that you’d like to see on Superman & Lois?

I’d like to see Doomsday. If you’re gonna shoot, shoot high!

Have you ever worn the Superman suit at home?

They don’t let me do that, no. I can’t get it to my car. That suit doesn’t leave the set.

Now that you’ve played a couple of characters that evolve over the course of a series, how do you put forward your thoughts of how they evolve into what the writers do?

We have such a great writing staff, sometimes on a show you don’t get to do much, I’ve been lucky that, on Teen Wolf, it was like I was playing a new character every season. For me, there was a lot of different things going on with Derek. And for this show, it’s great to see even with the first script where we’re going. I’ve been really lucky that I’ve gotten good, new things to play on these shows.

Did you study the other Superman romances in preparing for the role?

I let this be what it was. I think the death of a lot of things is comparison. Bitsie and I have such a great feel for the characters, once we started discussing the tone of this show, we just do our thing. We worry about what we can worry about. Bitsie is the greatest partner anyone would ask for. We have too much fun. From an actor’s point of view, we work in the same kinds of ways, but we entertain each other between scenes.

If you be any supernatural creature from Teen Wolf, what would it be and why?

Whichever one had the least amount of prosthetics. [laughing] It was a great experience, but I prefer putting on the suit to the glue any day. It’s a long day. I can get the [Superman] suit on in two minutes, the wolf makeup is two, two and a half hours.

What was it like to have another Superman in the crossovers?

It was really fun to be around Brandon [Routh, from Superman Returns] and revisit the character for him, and then having Tom [Welling, from Smallville] on set was cool. That gave me a greater sense of how long this character has been around. Bitsie and I talk about how we’re just the vessels. It’s about these characters and what they’ve meant to people for so long.

What’s it like filming the crossovers versus having your own show?

The crossovers are way more work for everybody else, but not so much for me. I’d show up and say, “What’s my one line for today?” You’re just kind of hanging around with superheroes all day. Elseworlds was harder, playing different versions of the characters, but the crossovers were like being at camp. Well, with Bitsie now, it’s still like being at camp. I grew up playing sports, so being in a locker room, a dugout, that’s where I like to be. I like being around everyone all day.

Are there any props or costumes you wanted to keep from Teen Wolf or Superman & Lois?

We always take something. From Teen Wolf, I took Derek’s jacket. That was a favorite. I also stole a lot of workout gear. I haven’t stolen anything from Superman & Lois yet. It’s too early. Someday I will figure it out. I do plan on someday getting that suit home.

For Superman & Lois, was there any plan for Supergirl to show up this season?

 Because of COVID—if you quote me, be sure to say that—no. We had crossovers planned with Batwoman that got scrapped. It’d be hard to describe how hard it was to shoot last year. Testing wasn’t as available, vaccines weren’t out yet. The last thing anyone wanted to do was cross people over between shows. It would’ve been just too risky to manage. But you never know what will happen in the future.

Is there anyone else you’d like to see pop up?

I love working with Grant [Gustin, who plays The Flash] because he loves Superman so much, so he’s just geeking out. We were doing a take where I had to tear my shirt open, to show the Superman suit underneath, and Grant was next to me and just gasped. I was trying to keep my chest from moving because I was laughing so much.

What was the most fun combat scene youve done?

Some of the most fun, and most challenging, were the Teen Wolf finales. As the show went on, they allowed me to get more and more involved. The season 2 finale, I did about 95 percent of the fight in that finale. It’s all in the footwork. It’s all a dance. It’s like turning a double play, how do you keep the rhythm going.

Any cool stories from Everybody Wants Some?

We got so spoiled on that. For rehearsals, we all stayed in a bunkhouse with queen size bunk beds, and we’d wake up, have breakfast together, and go do a table read together. Then baseball practice, then dance rehearsals, then we’d go play games in his game room, then watch a movie and have a discussion and critique session after. As a young actor, that whole experience was great.

TV or film?

Everything has pros and cons. On TV, I like the fact that I’m going back to see the same people on the show from last year. But there’s also something really special about a film where you have a set amount of time to knock it out of the park. You get more time in film, but there’s something nice about the faster pace of TV. Maybe when I was younger I would’ve preferred one, but they’re just two totally different things and I enjoy them both.

Seventh Heaven question! How was it working with the cast, and do you talk to any of them? What was your favorite part? What was it like moving from that character into a werewolf and a superhero?

I loved that cast. I got really lucky being on that show. Everybody was incredible. I still run into some of them here and there, and they’re all the greatest people. They were really helpful, too, in allowing me to continue to pursue baseball. As for how things went from there… sometimes you find yourself in a play and it’s not necessarily the way you drew it up, but sometimes in life it’s better to just go with the flow and see where you end up. It’s been an interesting adaptation.

 

 

Author of the article

Shae Connor

Shae Connor is a scientific editor with a Big Government Agency in Atlanta. Despite a fairly average upbringing, she jumped into fandom with both feet over two decades ago, thanks to The X-Files, and has spent much too much time writing fanfic and doling out heaping servings of Machete!Beta upon request. She’s also been known to hang around Star Wars, Star Trek, and various Whedonverse types, among others. In her copious spare time, she's a multipublished author of romance fiction. Check out her work at http://shaeconnorwrites.com.

close
Facebook Iconfacebook like buttonYouTube IconTwitter Icontwitter follow button