It’s one of the most infamous relationships in all of comics, encompassing two diametrically opposed mindsets that have been in continual conflict throughout years of comics and across two blockbuster films. We’re talking about the relationship between Superman and General Zod—two Kryptonians with very different worldviews. It’s a conflict that has played out through generations of Els and Zods, long before the destruction of Krypton. And it’s one that has been utterly turned on its head in Krypton, Syfy’s thrilling new Superman prequel.
While the animosity between the two houses persists, the relationship between Seg-El and Lyta-Zod is, to put it mildly, significantly warmer. Hot, even. While their roles within Kandor’s authoritative society means that their interactions must happen largely in secret, Lyta and Seg are lovers and close friends. But it’s a doomed romance—both characters are promised to others.
We recently spoke with actress Georgina Campbell about what it’s like to take on such a complex role, which also includes an often-abusive relationship with her mother and an emerging part to play within Kandor’s military, the Sagitari. Along the way, she shared her theory on how Seg and Lyta met, and teased Lyta’s relationship with Seg’s wife-to-be, Nyssa.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.
Were you excited to get cast in such a strong female role?
Yes, I really was! That was one of the big draws of it. Lyta’s very strong and empowered, but she’s also very complicated. She has her vulnerabilities and her weaknesses as well, which I think is important when constructing female characters. I think that the idea that women can’t be weak or feminine and can only be strong is quite insidious, as well. I think we need to be caring and excited about all types of women. Women have strength and they have weaknesses. I think Lyta really is that. She has strengths, and she’s very empowered, but she’s also very complicated and vulnerable.
Which of those complications was hardest for you to tap into?
The vulnerability wasn’t hard. In my past roles, I’ve played a lot of vulnerable characters. I’m quite in touch with my emotions. So, I actually found it a lot more difficult to get into the idea of being strong, and being in the army, taking control of situations, speaking to cadets… As the show goes on, Lyta’s involvement in the military changes, and there’s lots of stuff in it that mimics the stuff that Jayna does, and she starts being put in those sort of positions. Ann is so fantastic at those sorts of things. That’s very natural to her. I wasn’t very natural at that. So, that was something that I had to learn, but it’s a great thing to learn.
How would you explain the relationship between Lyta Zod and her mother?
They have a very strange relationship. It’s quite intense, which I think is very representative of a single parent relationship. You can tell that there is, although it might be hard to believe, a lot of love there. Jayna is trying her best to make Lyta be the kind of Zod that Jayna expects her to be. It’s what Jayna has learned through her father. It’s the Zod line, it’s how they’ve been raised. Lyta’s quite rebellious and against it. She wants to change the status quo on Krypton. But I also think she just wants to prove herself to her mom. At the root of a lot of their arguments and discrepancies, there is this real want of her mother’s love and acceptance. Even though she tries to hide it, like kids do, it comes out in different ways.
What’s Lyta’s journey going to be like this season?
It’s going to be…complicated. A lot happens over the series. It goes off in lots of different directions. She starts very strong with her ideas and morals, and what she wants for Kandor and Krypton, and who she thinks she is. Then it starts to really get derailed. She starts to become very confused about what she wants and how to do it, really. I think the relationship that she’s had with her mother—which is quite abusive—has made her very vulnerable, which means that people can take advantage of her. She’s quite open to that, and you see that as the series goes on. She’s quite vulnerable.
There are some Romeo and Juliet aspects to this story given all of the history between House Zod and House El. Do you think we’ll see some tragic aspects to it?
Yeah, it’s kind of that Romeo and Juliet idea where you know at the beginning of the play that they’re both going to die. You know at the beginning of our TV show that they can’t be together because he’s betrothed to Nyssa and she’s betrothed to Dev. So, you already know that this relationship isn’t going to work on that basic level. Then as the story goes on and things start to happen, and they’re both kind of pulled on different journeys, while also being pulled on one journey together, you see how that affects their relationship.
They’ve been used to having this relationship that’s isolated from her work and from his life. They don’t really cross over, and then as the series goes on, you see it start to cross over and that’s where issues begin.
Will we see Lyta get involved in some of the more science-based aspects of the show?
Kind of. There’s lots of crossing over between the different guilds and the different sides of Krypton, so you will see her in different environments.
I’m curious about how Lyta and Seg met each other. Do you learn any of their backstory and how they became close to each other?
No, you don’t. We tried to create an idea in our heads of how they met. We decided that maybe he was arrested by her at some point, and that’s how they met. He was probably a bit roguish, charming and funny, and their relationship developed from that. We see her arrest him at the beginning of the first episode, and I think that arrest does seems like it’s been done before—like this happens a lot and he’s constantly in trouble with the military. So yeah, that’s how we think they probably met!
What’s Lyta’s relationship going to be like with Nyssa?
Well, they do come into contact.
It’s interesting! They’re both very strong-willed women. It’s a difficult one because I guess you have expectations of the jealousy and the whole “other woman” aspect of it. But then they’re also very strong and you would imagine that they would be people that would respect each other. So yeah, it could go a number of ways…
Hopefully in a good way?
Catch new episodes of Krypton Wednesdays 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!