For eighty years, Superman has been saving us. As our first comic book superhero, there’s arguably no one better at it. But what happens when Superman’s the one who needs to be saved?
In Krypton, Syfy’s intriguing new #DCTV series, the Man of Steel’s enemies realize that the easiest way to defeat him may be to ensure he’s never born in the first place—a scheme that takes root 200 years before his home planet’s destruction. To prevent this, a plucky young hero named Adam Strange travels through time and space to Krypton, where he befriends Superman’s grandfather, Seg-El. But is this man out of time resourceful enough to protect Superman while helping Seg-El and his allies defeat the near insurmountable force of Brainiac?
We recently spoke with actor Shaun Sipos about how it feels bringing Adam Strange to the screen for the first time, if he can relate to Strange’s need to prove himself and whether we’ll ever see him on Earth with Superman.
Note: The below interview has been edited for clarity.
Tell us a little bit about this version of Adam Strange.
Adam Strange is a world-weary time traveler. He’s someone who wants to be a superhero. He stumbled into this place that he’s in, into being a hero. If you’re familiar with the comics, Adam was an archaeologist that was on a dig looking for something, and he was teleported by a Zeta Beam to a planet called Rann. So, in that sense, he’s really sort of an unlikely hero.
But Adam wants to be a top-level superhero and really make a difference, and when we meet him, he’s at the very beginning of that journey. He wonders if he’s meant to do it, and he’s grappling with those voices in his head asking, “Are you good enough? Can you be great?”
It’s something that I think we all do. Anyone in any chosen field, if they like what they’re doing, they want to be the best at it. But they grapple with the voices that say, “Maybe you won’t be.” They also hear the other ones telling them that they can do it and to keep going forward. That’s kind of who he is at this point in time.
How much did you know about him before you started playing him?
I didn’t know a whole lot about Adam prior to playing him. I was aware of him, but I didn’t realize that he was as big a comic hero as he is until DC sent me a massive box of Adam Strange comics. It was phenomenal. It took me a while to go through them—one of the comics was 500 pages! So, he really is no joke. I’m thankful that I wasn’t aware that he was that big, otherwise I think I might have been a little more nervous than I was.
What quality or characteristic of his has been most challenging to tap into?
What I’ll say is that when I read for Adam, and I read up on him, how he’s written and what he’s going through, I felt a real through line with him. I felt a connection with him. Oftentimes, you read for something and you don’t connect. And then sometimes you read for something and you just get him, and then they go, “Yeeah, you did a good job, but we don’t agree with what you think you know.”
Fortunately for me on this one, they agreed with my diagnosis of him, and how I connected with him. So, that was a great plus. I can’t really say that there are things with him that I had a real difficult time connecting with. I actually found myself going through the same things that he’s going through—“Am I going to be good? This is the first live action version of Adam. Are people going to like it? Am I going to do it justice? Am I a good actor?”
These things are what goes through everybody’s head at times. Then I realized that this is exactly what’s going on with Adam. He’s asking himself if he’s going to be able to save Superman. Is he meant to be a hero? Is he going to be a failure? As soon as I realized that, I knew I was on the right path with him.
What are some of the hardest challenges you’ve found as an actor trying to honor the source the material while also bringing your own unique spin to the character of Adam Strange?
I think the challenge is to really get away from what other people would think, and really try and find the depth of their pain and struggle, and the height of their joys…and really, what they want. To dig deep enough with them. Because the minute that you go to what people expect, or what you think they expect, then you’re playing surface level and it’s not going to be connected. But I think if you dig deep, we’re all the same on a very core level. That was my job with Adam—to dig deep and ask what he truly wants and what his biggest fears are, and really explore those.
Then, of course, how does he overcome them? What are his tools? Otherwise, I’d just be playing at something as opposed to in it.
How would you describe Adam’s relationship with Seg-El and also with Kem?
Cam Cuffe and I both talk about this—and I think we both really agree on it—which is that Adam and Seg’s relationship is much like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They have that banter and that mischief. They challenge one another and cause each other to excel. So, that’s what I think that relationship is. I think they innately just have a deep respect in caring for one another.
In terms of Kem… I mean, Kem is Seg’s best friend, but I also think Kem’s a bit of a cheeky bastard, and I don’t think Adam likes being shown up by anybody. I think he gives that cheek right back. It’s that kind of a relationship with Kem. Kem wants to be in charge and sort of be the figure in Seg’s life, but Adam’s not there to lose. There’s a little bit of friction, but it’s also playful friction. I think they respect one another.
So far, we’ve seen everything from Seg-El’s point of view. But will we ever learn more about what happened with him on Earth with Superman?
This first season we have to stick with the central story. We do explore Adam’s world, and what he’s going through. But I think in terms of going further in depth with Adam, I think that’s maybe season two. Season one is Adam and Seg, and they’re trying to save Superman and keep the timeline intact, but just by virtue of Adam time traveling and arriving on Krypton, the timeline is irrefutably changed.
I think Adam’s trying to sort of piece everything back together, which is like trying to hold on to water. It would just keep slipping through your fingers, and he’s trying everything he can do to keep that from happening. But it’s one of those situations that’s going to be tricky to keep in line and really save Superman. As we all know, Superman needs to be alive. We don’t want that guy gone.
Catch a new episode of Krypton tonight at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. CST) on Syfy. Check back throughout this week for more interviews with the cast of Krypton here on DCComics.com!
Space traveler. Archaeologist. Protector of Rann. We bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about Adam Strange!