Cassidy Freeman had the unenviable task of replacing, perhaps, the most infamous supervillain of all time, Lex Luthor. Her character on Smallville, Tess Mercer, toes the line on what her true motivations and agendas are ... which, of course, adds to her appeal. Cassidy joined us to discuss the upcoming end to the Smallville season and she does her best to discuss an ending that, well, she is not allowed to discuss.

Mike: You're from Chicago, are you a Cubs fan?

Cassidy: I'm not a huge baseball fan in general so I support both [Chicago baseball teams] because I support Chicago.

Mike: Well, it's probably good you're not a die hard Cubs fan, that sounds like a pretty miserable existence.

Cassidy: (laughs): I am a Bears fan though and that's still kind of a rough existence ... we're still living off the 1985 Super Bowl, right?

Mike: I have to say: You guys have done a great job living off of that team. So, you joined the cast of Smallville in season eight. Is it hard joining an established show?

Cassidy: Well, I kind of don't know any different because it's the first show I've been on as a series regular, but, yeah, at first it is. Everyone already has relationships, everyone's friends, there's history, there's inside jokes. At the same time I think they were really ready for some new blood. And as much as everyone hated to see Michael (Rosenbaum) and Kristin (Kreuk) go, I think it was time for something to change.

Mike: Your character, Tess Mercer, had big shoes to fill as, basically, the new villain. How do you think she, and you, have fared after the disappearance of Lex Luthor?

Cassidy: They are big shoes to fill. And not only acting wise -- Michael Rosenbaum is quite talented -- but also story wise. You have a character that doesn't really exist who is a combination of two characters -- one from the movie and one from the mythos -- and you're trying to replace Lex Luthor. And I knew that if I tried to replace him it wouldn't work.

The show is beautiful, it's a really cool idea. I recently re-watched the 1978 Superman and I realize in that whole movie what a small section Smallville [is]. Jonathan Kent dies in the first 15 minutes of that movie. So, if you think about high school Clark, that's such a small piece. It's such a cool show; after eight years the show is still fan run and it's fan genre that you have to pay respect to what the fans feel and what they want.

The fact that they brought Tess Mercer in to be in support of Lex and run by that, I think, was very, very smart. And then, you have this great moment about halfway through the season where he totally betrays her. And all of a sudden this character -- that thank god the fans were enjoying -- has her own journey to start going on. I feel like the first half of the season was dedicated to me filling in for Lex while he was gone, then, as the story went past his disappearance, all of a sudden you have this new character... who's pretty cool.

Mike: You mention the 1978 Superman movie. People will say: There's no way Lex can be dead -- and I would assume he's probably not -- because he's such a big part of Superman's life. But the creators of Smallville have made it pretty clear that Smallville is it's own entity and does not correlate with other Superman stories, right?

Cassidy: It's kind of like the Bible, right? We can all interpret it the way we want to interpret it. What is the (Superman) Bible? Is the Bible the movie? Is it the comic? Is the Bible the mythos that is in the scriptures of Superman? So I think it's up for interpretation like anything is. I like that they did that and they take liberties. They create someone like Chloe; they create someone like Tess Mercer. But who knows if Lex is really dead ... I mean, no one really dies on Smallville. It's like no one is really human. People joke that it leaves to many doors open, but, at the same time: Why not? Kill him.

Mike: So, I solicited some questions from readers. Do you want to answer them?

Cassidy: Absolutely!

Mike: OK, first one. This is pretty straightforward and the most popular question: Are you a "good guy" or a "bad guy"?

Cassidy: (laughs): I think that's up for interpretation. I also think that's what makes Tess Mercer kind of interesting. I'm going to say that I'm a "passionate" guy, that I do things that I want to do because I want to do them. If they're seen as evil or good in someone else's eyes ... that really doesn't matter to me.

Mike: We already got into this one a bit: Is Lex coming back?

Cassidy: I don't think Lex Luthor is ever really gone. If Michael Rosenbaum is coming back, that's someone else's deal ... I have no idea (laughs).

Mike: Were you a fan of the show before becoming a cast member? And were you a Superman fan before joining the show?

Cassidy: I was a Superman fan because my two older brothers were really into comics and I was a little sister that wanted to be like my older brothers. But, I was not a Smallville fan. I was actually in college when it started and I didn't have television and there wasn't this fandangled Internet TV. I've become a big fan since being cast on the show, in that I've gone back and watched all the old seasons and felt like it was my birthday because I kept getting more seasons after more seasons (laughs).

Mike: I'm assuming you didn't have to go to Best Buy to pick those up. I'm assuming they let you take those home?

Cassidy: You know what's funny? I actually did go to Best Buy and pick them up.

Mike: Did you really? I just assumed you could say the word that you needed some DVD's?

Cassidy: I feel like we only have so many favors we can call in the world. That one wasn't one that I really needed to call for. I'll support the arts ... not that I think Warner Brothers is really concerned about how much money they're making.

Mike: Yeah, that would be upsetting if Warner Brothers went bankrupt and when they listed the reasons why it included "giving free Smallville DVD's away to new cast members."

Cassidy: (laughs): They would be like: We should have cut that corner.

Mike: Next one: After the airplane and parachute incident does Tess officially know Clark's secret?

Cassidy: Tess can believe whatever she wants to believe and she's believed it for quite some time. However, she will not be satisfied until she hears it from the proverbial horses mouth. She wants him to admit it and that hasn't happened yet.

Mike: Will we see anymore of Tess and Oliver Queen together?

Cassidy: (laughs): Define "together."

Mike: That's the way it was written, I think they mean romantically as we saw in one flashback episode.

Cassidy: We do work together again. We are on the show together again. Our relationship is not over, however, it manifests. There's still an attraction, I mean (laughs) Oliver wants me bad.

Mike: OK, last question: Will Tess be back next season?

Cassidy: That I can't tell you! They're so secretive because our finale -- obviously, I'm sure that you know by now -- there are two deaths. Yeah, two people are going to die this season and we can't say who's coming back next year because that would give away who dies.

Mike: Has the last episode been filmed yet?

Cassidy: We are filming it right now. Actually, yesterday was my last day of work which is fun ... and sad.

"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at
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