On Smallville, Jimmy Olsen serves a role he traditionally has as a normal, nice guy, yet also does a couple of things previous versions of the character could only dream of - like say, dating Supergirl. However, it's Chloe (Alison Mack) who Jimmy has most been involved with, which led to his proposal to her in the Season 7 finale.
I recently visited the set of Smallville, where production is underway on Season 8, which debuts next Thursday. I sat down with Aaron Ashmore to find out where Jimmy Olsen figures into the story this year; what his dynamic might be with new characters Davis Bloome (AKA Doomsday) and Daily Planet boss Tess Mercer; and where the character might go in the future.
IGN TV: Two years ago, you were the new guy. Now, do you find yourself giving the newest cast members, like Sam Witwer ["Davis Bloome"] and Cassidy Freeman ["Tess Mercer"] info if they have questions?
Aaron Ashmore: Yeah, kind of, but Alison [Mack] said something to me the other day. She was talking about something [from an earlier season] and I said, "Oh, I wasn't here." She's just like, "Oh yeah! You've only been around for a couple of years!" It's that thing where it all melds together and I don't feel like I can lead everyone around and be like, "So look, this is how this works!" It's not so much that, but it's cool to have new people come in and it's great energy. It's fun to have new people to play with, so it's cool.
IGN: The classic depiction of Jimmy is a very nice, earnest guy - maybe a little dorky, but not in a bad way. But I was thinking how your Jimmy, man, he's in a love triangle last year with Chloe and Supergirl! That's a new situation for him.
Ashmore: Yeah, totally. But I think at the same time, he does still have those qualities. Sometimes I'm like, "What are these hot chicks doing with Jimmy!?" He's insecure and he's a goofball, but I think there's something very appealing about that. There's an honesty about him. He's just being who he is, and it is a goofball and it is insecure, but it's kind of cool to have the balance of that - to be able to be kind of a dorky and a geek and stuff and still get the girl. That's the dream, right? To just be who we are and still get the hot chicks. I think it's pretty cool.
IGN: Last we saw, you'd just proposed and then your possible fiancé was dragged away in front of you for some big legal issues. So that begs two questions - what's going on with a potential marriage and also what's going on with Chloe's legal woes?
Ashmore: Well, it's amazing how legal situations, if you have an in, you can just get somebody to sneak you out of that. So, that plays out how it's going to - it's a plot point and I don't want to give anything away too much. But the marriage thing, yeah, we're going towards a marriage, which is very exciting and kind of fun, because I'm 28 years old and nowhere near ready to get married and not in that position at all. So it's kind of interesting to just be going through this stuff. Like, they're having an engagement party and all these kind of things that lead up to a marriage. So it's actually kind of an interesting spot to be at. But there are some kinks along the road, so we'll see. I'm still curious, are we gonna get to the marriage? There's bound to be some things that are gonna pop up and stuff, so I'm curious to see how it plays out myself.
IGN: With Jimmy in other incarnations, we often didn't see his personal life or dating life. Has it been a pleasant surprise for you that you have been able to delve into this stuff with him?
Ashmore: Absolutely. And I think that what you say is very interesting, because that's what's been the focus of Jimmy on the show, I think - is the relationship with Chloe and the romance and stuff like that. His relationship with Clark and that more iconic way we know Jimmy hasn't been developed as much. There's been a little bit of animosity and insecurity between those two, so that to me is interesting, that they've chosen to play it [that way]. Chloe's always been in the middle. That was the introduction and their connection. But I think now that they're both working at the Daily Planet, they're going to be working on stories together and there's going to be more of a chance for them to develop a relationship; just the two of them, without hanging out with Chloe. So I think that's going to be fun and interesting to see how it plays out.
IGN: Like you mentioned, you finally have that classic Clark, Lois, Jimmy trio working together this season. A couple of years in, do you still have moments where you're struck by how iconic these characters are? Ashmore: Yeah. Sometimes when it comes to the iconic kind of moments, when I read the script for the first time, you get little goosebumps or something, because it really is kind of exciting. It's just fun to be able to do this stuff, because there's such a lineage to how it comes about. We haven't all three worked on a story or anything yet - I'm hoping that will happen, but just the idea of itÉ Yeah, all the dominoes are in a row now. Everybody's set here, so let's see what happens and what we can do with it.
IGN: You just have to get Michael McKean back as Perry White.
Ashmore: Perry White, yeah!
IGN: Can you talk a bit about some of the episodes and storylines you're involved with as we begin Season 8?
Ashmore: Well, a lot of it is revolving around the marriage and that idea of the lead up to that. There's a great episode called "Committed" and I don't want to give too much away, but basically Chloe and Jimmy get kidnapped by this psychopath and locked in a basement. He hooks them up to these electric chairs and he basically is so obsessed with truth and commitment and faith to the other person that you're going to settle down with for the rest of your life. He sets up this test where if you're lying, he's going to kill you. So the way to get out of this is to be truthful and not be lying. Don't have secrets; not cheating. So there's this amazing set up as to are they right for each other? Can they end up together? The secrets that they both have, is that going to destroy them? That to me is a great episode.
There's a little bit of development with going after stories. Davis Bloome helps Jimmy out on a ride along in an ambulance, trying to track down this killer that's totally demolishing Metropolis. It's kind of cool how they can incorporate things and everybody kind of bumps into each other and helps each other out.
IGN: Any encounters with Tess Mercer yet?
Ashmore: Haven't had any encounters with Tess yet, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time, because if she's the big boss, Jimmy will screw up or do something. But with Davis, it's been kind of superficial. Jimmy knows what he does - he's a paramedic and Chloe's mentioned him before, so when this killer is demolishing Metropolis and there's all these random killings, Jimmy thinks, "Well, what's the first thing that's going to be on the scene? An ambulance. So I'll go talk to Davis..." So Davis helps him out. I don't think that Jimmy has any idea that there might be trouble brewing with Davis on any level - the fact that he might be interested in Chloe or that he might be this crazy killer himself.
IGN: Or a big grey creature with white spikes?
Ashmore: Yeah, exactly! They're setting all that stuff up. We'll see where it goes.
IGN: Alison is directing an episode this season. Are you looking forward to working with her in a different dynamic like that?
Ashmore: So far, Tom [Welling] has directed some episodes and Michael [Rosenbaum] has. It was awesome and I can't see it being any different with Alison. She's such a sweetheart and I enjoy working with her so much. Good thing, because I do work with her so much! It is going to be interesting. Sometimes I've asked Alison, just in scenes and stuff, "What do you think about this?" - about playing a scene. And it's great, because she always says, "What do you think?" She doesn't tell you what to do. She says, "Whatever you think." I'm interested to hear her take and have her work as a director, because she's such a great actress. I imagine it's going to be nothing but good news.
IGN: This is a show where almost every character gets to have superpowers at one point or another. Jimmy's one of the few left who hasn't yet...
Ashmore: Yeah, no Kryptonite infections or anything like that. No superpowers. To be honest with you, I think it would be really cool if Jimmy got a power, but I'm trying to think what it is sticking with my character. My buddy is a big fan of the comics, and he's like, "Oh yeah, dude. There's lots of great stuff. You can be Turtle Boy or Elastic Lad or all this stuff!" I'm like, "No, I don't want that! I want some bad ass powers and stuff." We'll see. I have a feeling they'll probably steer away from it, just because the way I see it, Jimmy is the normal guy. Jimmy is the everyman. And that's what's kind of interesting about him, is he's not super involved in all this stuff, but he's very relatable in a lot of ways. So if you start giving him powers and doing all of that stuff, I think it might take away from that a little bit. It would be fine, but whenever I look at the character, that's how I see it. I don't know if that's their plan as well. But if they did, I'd love it! I'd love to chuck cars around or whatever. I mean, who wouldn't?
Eric Goldman // IGN.com