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Erica Durance adds spice to the WB’s ‘Smallville’

The actress’ feisty Lois Lane keeps the teen Clark Kent off-balance as the show heads toward its 100th episode

Rob Allstetter / Special to Detnews.com

December 23, 2005

With all the girls swooning over Clark Kent in The WB’s Smallville, the one who isn’t is the one who ultimately winds up with the Man of Steel.

Isn’t that ironic?

But for Erica Durance, the latest actress to play Lois Lane, that’s been perfect chemistry since she joined the series last season.

“Obviously this is about Superman growing up and they brought Lois Lane in earlier, before the Daily Planet. And if you’re going to have them already getting along, it would kind of wreck the process,” Durance says. “So what they wanted to do is create an interesting relationship that he’s never had to experience before. He’s got Chloe, who’s in love with him, and he’s got Lana, who’s in love with him, and then suddenly somebody comes in and says, ‘You’re just an idiot.’

“It kind of makes him think. So I think they wanted to add that layer.”

It also makes for a spicy relationship between two strong young people.

“And you can’t make that stay true if all of a sudden one compromises in a couple of episodes and is madly in love with the other person,” Durance says. “I think they’re wanting to develop that over time.”

Regardless of whether Lois and Clark actually hook up, Durance has provided a spark to the show, which is enjoying renewed success in its fifth season on The WB. Smallville, starring Tom Welling as the pre-Superman, teenage Clark Kent, has set network ratings records in its new Thursday night time period and is steamrolling toward a landmark 100th episode in February.

Now a series regular, Durance doesn’t appear in every episode, but she’s definitely had her share of highlights already this season: romantic moments with — of all people — Aquaman, going undercover as a stripper and verbally challenging two super-powered Kryptonians.

Like the feisty Lois, Durance enjoys mixing it up.

“I love doing any of the fight sequences,” she says. “It’s fun. You get to pretend that you’d actually beat up some 200-pound guy. It’s just fun to throw a punch and watch them throw themselves.”

A 28-year-old from Calgary, Alberta, Durance previously appeared in such genre shows as Andromeda and Stargate SG-1, and in the horror movie House of the Dead.

Joining the Superman mythos is a major step up, one would think, and Durance agrees.

“Getting a part where you play something like this is a huge thing, and following women who have done it before, I was very nervous about it,” Durance says. “Playing Lois is definitely a responsibility.”

Durance has met Noel Neill, who played Lois in the 1950s television series, and Margot Kidder, who played her in the Christopher Reeve movies. She and Kidder shared a stage at a science-fiction convention in Toronto in September.

“I just think that Erica’s work is absolutely fabulous and psychologically more nuanced than what we were doing,” says Kidder, who herself appeared in two episodes of Smallvilleas the now-deceased Bridgette Crosby.

That had to be the ultimate compliment for Durance, who says she can’t bear to watch herself on television.

Throngs of fans don’t share her problem. Smallvillefan web sites have sprouted entire areas devoted to Lois and Durance, with message thread titles such as “Erica Durance — wow.” And the popular Lois definitely figures NOT to be the upcoming, much-ballyhooed character to die in Episode 100 — future relationships not withstanding.

Durance certainly won’t spill the beans on the death. And often getting her scripts just days before shooting, she can only speak in general terms about upcoming episodes.

“I think there are some exciting things in the future,” she says. “And I do think they want to have the characters grow up a little bit and have more exciting things happen.”

In the meantime, viewers might know where Lois and Clark end up, but now they can learn how they got there.

Source: The Detroit News

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