Jordan Elsass, the young actor portraying Jonathan Kent on the hit CW series, “Superman and Lois,” had a different introduction to the world of acting than many other child actors do.
“I started a little reluctantly,” he admitted. “When I was 10 years old, my mom saw that there was a play at our community theater looking to fill a role for a boy my age. She offered me a little extra video game time for trying something new.”
Elsass was terrified, and devastated, when he failed to deliver the memorized lines perfectly.
“I got cast as part of the ensemble, had a great time, and went on to act in several plays before I was spotted by a talent agent attending one of those plays,” Elsass said. “I then made the transition to commercials, TV and film.
According to Elsass, the acting style was so different and took some guidance.
“I enjoyed all of it, but didn’t really see it as a legitimate career option until I booked ‘Little Fires’ when I was 17,” he stated. “I had just earned my Associates Degree and actually planned to start pursuing at least a four-year degree, but I have been working nonstop since then. I went from ‘Little Fires’ to ‘Panic’ to ‘Superman & Lois.’”
Jordan portrayed Trip Richardson’ in the series, “Little Fires Everywhere.” This was his first regular series job. For him, it was quite the experience.
“The experience was surreal, because not only was it my first series regular role, but it was also a huge project with big names attached,” he said. “It was amazing to watch the team behind a project like that, from producers to sound, to editing in post… I had never worked on a soundstage with house interiors completely built like that.”
Jordan said that it was great to see the level of professionalism mixed with friendliness and fun.
“I met a lot of really fantastic people on that project, and as I mentioned before, for the first time I began to think, maybe I could do this as a career,” he exclaimed.
Jordan happened to see the WB/CW series DVD’s of “Smallville” at the library when he was eight years old. When he asked his Mom what the show was, she explained it was about Superman growing up.
While he didn’t watch a lot of TV, “Smallville” was an exception.
“[Smallville] remains one of my favorite shows, and I am grateful I found it all those years ago.”Jordan Elsass
“It’s funny, I did not watch a lot of television growing up, but I not only watched the show, I watched all seasons more than once,” he said. “It remains one of my favorite shows, and I am grateful I found it all those years ago. I hope to somehow have Tom Welling [Smallville] appear in a cameo on our show at some point. That would be really cool.”
Jordan had some familiarity with the Superman mythos prior to getting the role of Jonathan Kent, thanks in part to shows like “Smallville.”
“I was marginally familiar, having watched some shows and movies, and of course Superman is just iconic,” he continued. “But I was not immersed in it, and am still learning. I don’t really read comics, so I didn’t even realize there was a Jonathan Kent! My mom always refused to watch any other Superman after the Donner films, he was her Superman. Until now. I think we can all agree that Tyler [Hoechlin] is filling those red boots phenomenally.”
When the call went out for the role of two teenagers to be cast on the CW Series “Superman & Lois”, Jordan was asked to submit a tape of some scenes.
“I was asked to submit a self-tape of scenes that were under a different name but were actually for the role of Jordan,” he said. “Very quickly my agent got a call from the casting director asking me to submit scenes for the other brother, who of course I now know as Jonathan, but I think the characters were initially given the disguised names of Matthew and Ethan.
Jordan later found out that the casting directors liked his initial tape very much, but they just hired Alex Garfin to play Jordan Kent on the show.
“They still needed to fill the Jonathan role,” he said. “Apparently, they liked my tape for that role as well because they wanted to fly me out to screen test with Alex and Bitsie. I was told if that went well, I would be asked to test in front of a roomful of CW and Warner Execs.”
Jordan had never done that before.
“The last level of ‘Little Fires’ auditioning was just being in a room with the showrunner and the casting director, trying scenes with two of the actors already hired,” he stated. “And that was big in, and of itself, with its own pressure! After I met with the executives, my mom and I went down into the cafeteria in the building to have a snack and wait to be picked up. We didn’t even get out of the building before my team called me to tell me I got the role! Very very exciting!”
In the “Superman & Lois” series, Jordan has been given the opportunity to really display his ability to generate emotion and depth of that emotional range with his current storyline. Jonathan Kent has moved with his family from the city of Metropolis, (Where he was a popular, star football player), to the much smaller town of Smallville, where his Dad grew up. In Smallville he finds things not as easy for him.
“The only really tough scenes for me are the super-emotional ones, as you saw in Episode eight with Lois [Bitsie Tulloch], where my character was so upset,” Elsass said. “I have to truly take myself to some really sad places to really, genuinely feel those feelings. For more broad disappointments and angst, I think we all have ups and downs in life on a weekly basis, so that’s a bit easier to just think about a little to get into character.”
Unlike his “brother” on the series, Jonathan Kent doesn’t have any of his Dad’s Kryptonian powers… so far. This isn’t a problem for Jordan at all.
“I know that from the comics, Jonathan is supposed to have powers, which could be fun to play with, but I am also enjoying just portraying Jonathan as finding strength (and weakness) as a normal human.Jordan Elsass
“You know, I could honestly go either way on this [his character having powers],” Jordan admitted. “I know that from the comics, Jonathan is supposed to have powers, which could be fun to play with, but I am also enjoying just portraying Jonathan as finding strength (and weakness) as a normal human. Jonathan seems to be a character that fans are rooting for, even though he is ordinary in many ways.”
Finding out where Jordan’s character goes next in the storyline should be interesting, given the fact Jon has powers in the comics. But in the comics, he also doesn’t have a brother who is already developing powers of his own. With the source material already being deviated from, his character’s path isn’t quite as clear.
“I would like for Jonathan to continue to have some real ups and downs, as humans do,” the actor admitted. “But this may be exaggerated somewhat, given his circumstances and lineage, so that can make it a little more fun. But primarily I want to see him growing as a person, and I hope the show is around for you to see Jonathan Kent become at least a few years older, and I hope he continues to remain close with his family as they support one another as well as to find his own fulfillment in life.”
Prior to “Superman & Lois,” no other iteration of Superman on TV has explored the Man of Steel as being married with teenage children. This presents a different narrative that fans aren’t used to seeing. For Jordan, this makes “Superman & Lois” even more interesting.
“I love that it is a completely different angle and nothing that has been done before,” he said. “I am really, really happy that the show portrays a healthy, loving family, because sadly that is all too rare on television these days.”
In the show, each member of the Kent family is trying to support the other three and that’s the way a family should be, according to Jordan.
“I enjoy my scenes with Bitsie, Tyler and Alex, and there’s a different dynamic in each of those relationships,” he said. “In real life, Alex and I are really close and hang out a lot and laugh and have great conversations. I respect Tyler so much and look up to him. He is a genuinely great human being and role model. And I think Bitsie and I work really well together and elevate each other’s performances in scenes like you saw in episode 8 [Season 1] with a lot of emotion. It has all been really great and such an honor.”
Acting in an action series, means having some really great scenes to get to play. Jordan has his own favorite moment from season 1 so far.
“I’ve enjoyed so much of it, but I have to say I really liked when Jonathan was trapped inside John Henry’s (Wolé Parks) RV, and all the laser sights were pointed at him,” he admitted. “Those effects weren’t added in later, they really set up those beams. It enhanced the feelings and urgency and made it feel more like a real and dangerous situation!”
Given the vast multiverse in both the series and in DC Comics, there’re other villains and heroes that fans may get to see on the show. There’s some specific characters Jordan hopes to see included at some point in the series.
“I don’t really know how it could be worked in, but I love Batman and specifically the Dark Knight franchise,” he said. “Any nod to any of the characters from that universe would be really fun. One of my favorite performances of all time is Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker. I’m not sure that kind of role fits into our show, but I love it nonetheless!”
Jordan Elsass is loving every moment he’s getting on “Superman & Lois” so far, and he’s proving with his acting exactly why he was given that opportunity.