Last week AMC launched a brand new documentary series examining the most important moments in the history of comics called AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics. And on next Monday’s episode “The Trials of Superman” we will see Robert Kirkman dig deeper into the history of Superman and the men who created this iconic character – Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. Their story is quite interesting. Although Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel did create Superman, who nowadays is one of the most popular and recognizable comic book characters, they also faced decades-long legal troubles when it comes to the ownership of the character. And this episode of AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics details it all, giving you a new perspective on both comics and the character of Superman.
Since this documentary series combines interviews with scripted re-creations of the historic moments, I talked to the two actors who played Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel in the show’s third episode Blaine Anderson and Brendan Taylor, to learn more about their work on AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics and their thoughts on things like comic book creator rights, favorite comics and comic book villains, Superman and much more.
Big thanks to both Brendan Taylor and Blaine Anderson for the interview, Jasper Anson for setting it up, and keep on reading to learn more about AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics and the actors who brought Joe Shuster and Jerry Siege to life in the series Blaine Anderson and Brendan Taylor!
Tvshowpilot: You are playing Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel on the third episode of AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics. How did you prepare to play these comic book legends?
Brendan Taylor: We took it upon ourselves to watch any video clips we could find of the real people and to read existing articles on these characters and their story. It very much helped us.
Blaine Anderson: Our director Rory Karpf also relayed many stories that he found through talking to people connected to the story. He was very helpful in giving us insight into who these characters were. We also worked very collaboratively amongst all the cast. If we found a story, we would tell each other about it and incorporate it into our characters.
Tvshowpilot: Although people know Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel as Superman creators, most might not know about their legal battles over the ownership of the Superman character. Why is important for people to know this story?
Brendan Taylor: I think it’s important for people to know this story, much like it’s important to know where things come from vs taking them at face value. It gains a bigger appreciation for Superman himself if you know the struggles of what they went through to get there. Also, what Superman was fighting for, Jerry and Joe were as well.
Blaine Anderson: We take for granted where our comic book heroes come from and how much passion people like Joe and Jerry put into their characters. I believe it will give the audience a good connection with Superman’s fight for justice and how it directly correlates to Joe and Jerry’s fight for justice.
Tvshowpilot: Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel aren’t the only comic book creators who have had troubles when it comes to creator ownership and rights. Why do you think this is such a big problem in the comic book industry?
Blaine Anderson: In any creative industry where you come up with an idea or a product, it’s hard to quantify things that are created from imagination. Even as actors, you can be acting for 20 years, but you’re only as good as your last job. There’s such a big difference between business and art, and they don’t always mix.
Brendan Taylor: Yeah, business and art have always struggled to mix. I think in the comic book industry – and in art in general – people want to take credit for ideas. Art is created all the time every day, so the dream is to have it recognized. As soon as something is recognized, people affiliated with it will want to be a part of it and ultimately monetize it.
Tvshowpilot: What was it like to be a part of AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics? Any behind-the-scenes stories you can share from filming the episode?
Blaine Anderson: I could start off with just the very beginning of it. Brendan and I both auditioned. We didn’t know we were auditioning for the show. There are lots of auditions that go on in Vancouver. I originally auditioned for Jerry and a couple of other characters. So did Brendan and we didn’t know that we were on the same episode until the costume wardrobe day. We’re friends in real life and have been friends for quite a while but have never worked together before. So the on-screen bond is a real-life bond.
Brendan Taylor: I think the most fun part of shooting was playing old men. We got to put on aging make-up and prosthetics and wear high-waisted pants and explore what it’s like to live to that age and to have lived a full life and also to have had a lifelong friendship that Jerry and Joe had. It was a pretty special thing to explore.
Tvshowpilot: Superman is one of the most popular and iconic comic book characters of all time. Why do you think people relate to Superman so much?
Blaine Anderson: I think people relate to Superman because he was an alien but he grew up on a rural farm to good Americans who raised him to be the poster boy of somebody who could fight for justice, have a good heart and be a defender of the weak. So he’s a lot more relatable to us humans coming from his perspective as an alien – and he has really cool superpowers, so I think people like that.
Brendan Taylor: I believe people relate to the fact that he’s trying to fit into the world and be accepted. By living with humans, from an outsider’s perspective, he can see that they need help. He has an important role.
His humility is also what’s relatable. Someone can be flashy quite easily with that much power. A constant theme in the world of Superman is his God complex – he could do so many things with his power – but he’s quite humble with it and doesn’t want to use it and doesn’t want to push it to the max.
Tvshowpilot: I hear you both are big comic book fans. Which is your favorite comic?
Blaine Anderson: Yes, big comic book fans! Favorite comic – it’s changed over the years. As a kid, I really liked Thor and The Incredible Hulk. As a very young child, I remember crying with almost anger when I first saw the Death of Superman comic. I was a big Batman fan when Frank Miller was doing The Dark Knight thing. Those are my guys.
Brendan Taylor: It was definitely The X-Men. I was all things X-Men at one point. I had t-shirts. I had hats. I had posters. I had video games. I collected all the comics and cards and prided myself on knowing all of the X-Men stories and Gambit was my go-to character. I loved how rebellious and badass he was, which was definitely not me growing up.
Tvshowpilot: Interestingly enough, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel first created Superman as a villain. Which is your favorite comic book villain?
Brendan Taylor: Being an X-Men fan, I always loved Magneto. The whole story with him vs Professor X, with the X-Men being these mutants in this world that has very much been relevant to our society, and accepting people for who they are. Magneto’s team is on the side of “if you can’t accept us, we’re going to fight you” and Professor X pushes for unity.
But Magneto himself – just with his powers to manipulate metal and metal is found in everything, including the human body in the iron that is in the blood – you can find really unique, cool things that Magneto does with his powers.
Blaine Anderson: I’ve always been a big fan of villains from outer space. There’s Darkseid, Thanos, Galactus – anything that was a destroyer of worlds, I kind of liked that.
Tvshowpilot: Up until this point, there have been many versions of Superman in all types of media – film, comic, TV, you name it. Which incarnation of Superman is your favorite?
Blaine Anderson: Christopher Reeve – hands down. For sure. He had the most humanity and the most charisma. Plus, Superman was the first movie I saw in a theatre with my mom in Vancouver.
Brendan Taylor: Yeah, definitely Christopher Reeve for me, too. The advent of rippling muscles wasn’t really a thing yet. Although Christopher Reeve did have a personal trainer to beef him up, he just looked like a strong guy. You knew he was strong, but it wasn’t in-your-face ridiculous with all the muscles kind of like how the comics can be. He seemed like a real representation of what Superman can be – and as Clark Kent, he was just funny!
Tvshowpilot: If you could play any comic book character (hero or villain), who would it be and why?
Brendan Taylor: Yeah, definitely for me, Gambit. I’d love to do that origin story. I think it’s kind of the one big story that hasn’t been done yet. I’ve heard rumors of the movie being made and he’s made appearances in movies so far, but the true story behind him hasn’t been told. His love affair with Rogue – I was obsessed with that and the cartoon, “X-Men Adventures”. I like his Cajun accent and I just think he’s awesome.
Blaine Anderson: I’m going into the mutant world with you. I’ve had a hankering to play Havok because he channels his anger to his power. I’m a pretty meek and mild-mannered person most of the time, but those who know me, know that I can have a fierce anger and I think that would play really well in the Havok world.
Tvshowpilot: What’s next for you both in terms of new projects apart from AMC Visionaries?
Blaine Anderson: I have a movie called “Residue” that is out on Netflix. It’s an action horror neo-noir film about a private investigator who gets trapped with a book of nefarious origins. I play a doctor who is also trapped with the book. It’s a great fun time and I’m also a producer on the film. You can find out more about it on my website at BlaineActor.com and keep up with me on social media at @BlaineActor on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Brendan Taylor: I have a recurring role on a show called “The Arrangement” on the E! Network and also on the upcoming season of SyFy’s “The Magicians”. There are several other projects as well that you will find out soon enough if you follow me on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @MrBrendanTaylor or at Brendan-Taylor.com.
Tvshowpilot: Finally, why should people watch AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics and your episode (“The Trials of Superman”) in particular?
Blaine Anderson: Like I said before, I think people will really connect with Joe and Jerry’s fight for justice and their passion for the character. I think that shines through in Superman and that audiences will enjoy it.
Brendan Taylor: For fans, I think that learning about the history of the struggle will only strengthen their connection and loyalty to Superman. If they know more about it, maybe they will dive even deeper into the character and the comics themselves.
So there you have it, an interview with Blaine Anderson and Brendan Taylor giving you a little insight in AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics, and Blaine Anderson and Brendan Taylor’s work on the series, love for comics and future projects. Make sure to follow them on social media to keep up with all the awesome things they are going. And, of course, make sure to watch “The Trials of Superman” on Monday, November 20 at 10 PM ET/PT on AMC!