Sure, there’s plenty of other stuff that Michael Rosenbaum has done, and I’m definitely self-selecting (for the purposing of a long and winding set-up), but does Michael Rosenbaum gravitate towards jerky characters?
“Well, it’s not fun to play a jerk when they’re just a jerk, but if you look at the characters like Lex Luthor…he started out as a good guy, but his history, his father, that was his evolution that turned him into a bad guy,” answers Rosenbaum. “If you watch the first three seasons of Smallville, you’re like, ‘Oh, he’s the good guy!’ Inevitably, we know what he becomes, but that was what was interesting – why does he become bad? Even Dutch from Breaking In, even though he was kind of a loud, douchey character, you saw that he had a good heart. I don’t choose a character based on whether they’re evil, but there has to be something interesting about him”.
With a career that, while varied, is dominated by science fiction and fantasy-type roles, Rosenbaum is no stranger to the pop culture convention circuit. For those yet to witness a Q&A session with a star at such events, it can be a confronting experience. The talent sits on a stage with a microphone as one person after another lines up to ask them anything. At best it is a moment for heartwarming connections between fans and the objects of their adoration, at worse they are sterile, awkward train wrecks where time itself slows down. For his first appearance at Australia’s Supanova Pop Culture Expo, Michael has come prepared.
“I think it’s my gift, I just feel like I know how to make everybody feel comfortable,” he says, with such confidence you can’t be sure if he’s joking or not. “I’ve always been like that, I have a crazy family and they all hate each other, but when I am in the room I try to make everyone feel comfortable.
“And for the people at Supanova, I just want everyone to know that I’m a real guy, I grew up in a small town…I think people see, ‘Oh, he’s just not that guy on TV’, I think I’m very approachable. I love the fans, if they weren’t there, I wouldn’t be talking to you from my house. I’d be talking to you from my apartment, or my grandmother’s house!”
And when the questions inevitably skew towards the super technical – those conspiracy theories about the DC Universe, questioning the science behind Superman’s Kryptonite-based weakness – can Rosenbaum hold his own?
“I answer what I can. Hold my own? I don’t know. I wasn’t a big comic book fan when I was younger, I was into horror movies, action figures and Star Wars. So that world I can definitely do. But with Smallville, I had to learn a lot of stuff on the fly. I knew Lex Luthor was the bad guy that Gene Hackman played, but that was about it.
“I always look at people that know everything about the comic book mythology and I respect it. Yeah, they’re nerds, and I’m a nerd with horror movies. Can I hold my own? Probably not. These people really know there shit!”
This year’s Supanova lineup runs the spectrum of pop culture as ambitiously as ever, from iconic comic book artists to TV stars to the delightfully kitsch (The Hoff, anyone?). As much as these conventions are about looking back on past achievements, Rosenbaum is hopeful to insert a few mentions about his more recent and future activities. In 2011, he launched his own production company Rose and Bomb Productions, and the small smattering of films released under that banner – a murder mystery, a tear-jerker and a rom-com – suggests that Rosenbaum is playing the field at the moment. He wrote, directed and starred in his latest film, Old Days, in an action that is referred to in ‘the biz’ as ‘Afflecking it’. Despite prematurely aging about a decade in the months it took to film, Rosenbaum is still chuffed at the experience. (To clarify, I’m more than certain no one calls it ‘Afflecking it’…and they won’t let me anywhere near ‘the biz’.)
“I always said I wanted to go to Hollywood to make movies, but to be able to write, direct and star in a movie with your friends, in your hometown, it doesn’t happen very often. I am very lucky to have that happen. And I’m also very lucky that I didn’t die in the process, because it is a shit tonne of work!”
Our time has come to an end, and there are still so many questions to ask. What does it feel like to wear a bald cap for most of your adult life? When you’re doing voice work for cartoons, do you bother wearing pants? And what of these whispers of your involvement on Marvel’s big screen adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy? Well, I’ve got to leave some questions for the fans to ask at Supanova, right?
BY MITCHELL ALEXANDER