Craig Byrne (PlanetKrypton@aol.com)
- May 2003
interview is not to be reprinted
in any form without the permission of KryptonSite. This interview
was conducted via e-mail in May 2003.
One of the
most familiar faces in Smallville up until the episode
"Suspect" was Mitchell Kosterman, who played
"Sheriff Ethan" ("Sheriff Ethan Miller"
for those who read the Ledger).
Ethan first appeared in "Jitters" and appeared in
around a dozen episodes after that, before Lionel Luthor got
the better of him.
Kosterman was seen in a number of series, mostly based in
Vancouver. It was his many appearances on The X-Files
that first caught the attention of the legion of fans of the
man who eventually played the "cop who is just doing his
in 1993 David Duchovny had a group of fans called the David
Duchovny Estrogen Brigade (the DDEB) who met in various IRC
chat rooms and on Compuserve," Kosterman said. "While
we were working on X-Files he told me about them and,
knowing I was a computer hobbyist, asked me to try to contact
them. He wanted to thank them for presents they had sent on
his birthday. After being initially rebuffed because the DDEB
didnt believe I was legitimate, I put the fans in contact
with David. As a result of this I established a relationship
with the DDEB and they eventually formed the MKEB
[Mitchell Kosterman Estrogen Brigade - Craig]. This was
my first real fan support and they were very encouraging and
Kosterman Estrogen Brigade" still exists today, years after
the X-Files cancellation. "The MKEB persists today
because of the website. I receive all sorts of letters, emails
and gifts from around the world. The website was originally
created by a DDEB member named TC Carstensen some time in 1993
or 1994. Today the site is maintained by Jennifer Roth of San
Diego, California. Jennifer and I have become quite good friends
and we have met on several occasions. She is a wonderful person
and I owe her a lot. Jennifer and the MKEB were part of the
reason the US government allowed me to shoot a movie in LA a
few years back," Kosterman said.
came to the leafy little hamlet of Smallville in the
first season episode "Jitters." "In the first
episode (Jitters) I had a very small part and that
was disappointing. It had been some time since I had done a
small role and I only took it because of the possibility the
part would expand and they were offering an unusually large
amount of money. I could see right away the show was high quality.
Tom and the other cast were clearly a great combination and
the crew, most of whom I have known for years, were top drawer.
After I worked on it a couple of times, I was anxious that I
be allowed to continue the role for at least a few episodes
and I knew it was going to be a hit. Obviously, I am very happy
how things turned out
until I shot Lionel, of course."
if there's an unwritten law that sheriffs have to frame or arrest
characters that John Schneider plays, Mitchell Kosterman assures
that it was just coincidence, "but I do think there is
now some sensitivity to the fact there were so many bad cops
on the show." However, there were occasionally jokes made
about that coincidence. "It did seem like I was always
arresting my friends or reluctantly enforcing some law against
them. John and Annette had great fun with it," Kosterman
explained. "John mentioned some Dukes of Hazard spin-offs
that died horrible deaths. Annette [O'Toole] once said,
'Oh, Im baking muffins? I guess Ethan should be here to
arrest someone any minute'."
then asked Kosterman if there were any "unsung heroes"
among the Smallville crew. Here's what he had to say:
editors and the writers never get enough credit. One of the
things I like about KryptonSite is the writers are always mentioned.
Without a good script, you have nothing. The editors make or
break the show because (its hard to explain until you
see it being done) the raw footage (dailies as they
are called) must be manipulated in a big way to create the show
you see. It has to be done in such a way that it flows effectively
and you dont see anything that takes you out of the fantasy.
Stephen King refers to such errors by book writers as author
intrusions; the things that remind you that you are reading
a book. In film and TV, I like to call them director intrusions.
And its more likely something they didnt shoot as
opposed to what they did shoot, that causes the problem. Or
it can be a continuity error or a screwed up eye-line (the way
a person is looking doesnt appear to be right).
as the first stunt coordinator Lauro Chartrand pointed out,
developed into a much more action oriented show than was originally
intended. This meant more stunts. In the second year Lauro moved
on and Tony Morelli took over. Tony is probably the most experienced
stunt coordinator in Vancouver. He was the guy falling into
the canyon on First Blood. I used to go watch him
fight when he was the Full Contact Karate World Champion for
the cruiser weight class. In my early days acting, Tony would
double me on occasion, mostly because his Karate was much better
than mine. Nowadays, its Bill Stewart who doubles me and
this was the case on Smallville. In one version of Suspect
Clark throws me through a glass wall. You will never see it
because the scene was later changed to the one you saw, but
we shot the whole smashing-through-the-glass bit before the
decision was made to change the script. Bill got hurt on that
a stunt performer goes through glass the glass is blown
a millisecond before he hits it by way of a small explosion.
This causes the glass to fragment so there is less chance of
a big knife-like chunk slicing the person. Many people mistakenly
believe its fake glass that stunt performers go through
when they crash through a window. In fact, you cant make
a pane out of so-called candy glass (hard, clear
sugar) because it isnt clear or flat enough and wont
hold together in large pieces. So, they have to crash through
real glass. And they get cut. Every time. The idea, however,
is to see they get only little cuts. I know you are surprised
to hear this, but the fact is, stunt performers get hurt all
the time. They expect it. In spite of what they say on TV, their
goal is not really to prevent injury but rather to prevent serious
injury. Cuts, scrapes, bruises and even broken bones are often
considered acceptable. People watching have no idea how much
courage and skill and pain tolerance this job takes.
the day in question, the special effects person blew the glass
a little too early. Bill had jumped on a springboard to fly
through the window and, in mid-air, noticed the window was blown
way before he got to it. He knew the shot was not going to work.
Unfortunately, as he was thinking this, he forgot to tuck his
head down and flew through the opening face first, caught his
legs on the window sill and hit the ground hard. The unbroken
glass shards in the window, which he would have pushed out of
the way had he hit the window properly, cut him badly on the
hand and head. He came back to set later all sewn up and just
really pissed he had been so stupid. Bill is an expert. He has
done amazing spins and jumps in cars for me, hung from helicopters
by a wire while shooting a gun, and taken all sorts of falls;
all so I could look good. He does it so well that even my own
mom has argued with me on occasion when I have tried to assure
her it wasnt really me that was in danger. She has pointed
at the screen and said, Thats you, Mitchell. I know
the way you walk. Thats you. Boy, that must have hurt.
But it was Bill.
is something very disturbing to see a person bleeding and dazed
after doing something that was considered unsafe for you to
think the principal camera operators dont get enough credit.
They are the guys taking the actual photos. They point the lens
and move the camera. They are gifted people.
sound department has to capture all the dialogue amongst a huge
number of obstacles and the production rarely compensates for
them. In fact, I once said to a director (not on Smallville)
that I was standing in a particular place for a shot because
it was better for the sound and he said, Mitchell, we
never take sound into consideration when blocking a scene.
Even though the dialogue is what its all about. The Smallville
crew were so proficient that I cant remember ever redoing
dialogue (ADR or Looping, as its called) because it was
poorly recorded. We recorded the rain soaked opening scenes
of Suspect in a sound studio because anything we
said on the day sounded like a scuba diver trying to talk to
2, Mitchell talks about "Suspect," Smallville fandom,
his new role on Stargate, and more. Read
it by clicking here!
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