Last week, CBS’s Supergirl audiences met Peter Facinelli, who made his debut as Maxwell Lord – the businessman whose keen interest in Supergirl likely has ulterior motives. Who exactly is Maxwell and are there any clues as to what he’s up to? LA Fan Cultures Examiner spoke to Peter at New York Comic Con to see what we could find out.
“I think in the comic books he’s more [Donald] Trump-ish, in this show he’s more Elon Musk,” Peter explained of how his take on the character differs from the one presented in the pages of DC Comics. “There’s different types of billionaires and I think his is more of like George Clooney.”
“It’s been fun,” he added. “Maxwell has never been really portrayed before, so it was kind of fun to be able to tackle that and bring my own spin to it, and work with the writers and figure out the best way to tell his story in this version. It’s hard to say too much because I don’t want to give away too much, but I think he has a fascination with Supergirl for sure.
“There’s some stuff with Cat Grant; they have a history,” he added of his relationship with Calista Flockhart’s character. “I think it’s kind of a Dangerous Liaisons thing. There’s this tension, but it’s also sexual tension. There’s a power struggle, but they admire and respect each other I think. [They’re] adversaries, but in a healthy way, a sexy way.”
Coming off of his starring role on Showtime’s dark comedy Nurse Jackie, Peter’s new Supergirl role is a change of pace – and it also happens to be right up his alley in terms of what he’s interested in. This super-cool actor is also a comic book buff.
“I always said when I grow up, I want to be a superhero,” he told us. “There’s so many good ones. I like the ability to fly because I travel so much, but Superman’s pretty cool and Supergirl. I’m a fan of so many [heroes]; I grew up collecting Spider-Man comics, Superman I used to read as a kid. I created a comic book called Orphans that’s in development at Fox right now for a TV series. I’m a fan.”
Naturally, he was happy to dig into the pages of back issues for information on Maxwell, but he didn’t let that constrain his portrayal of the character. “I didn’t want to be too tied down to what the comics are,” he explained. “I think what I like from the comics is he has a flair about him…I sat down with costumers and said look, give him some kind of flair, so he always has a handkerchief in his pocket. There were certain things that I took and certain things that I created and sort of mingled. There’s nothing to compare it to, because there’s no other live-action version of him.”
“In the essence of Maxwell…there’s parts of him that are good and parts of him that aren’t,” Peter continued. “I don’t think he’s driven by anything at all, but I think he has his version of what good is and what good for humanity is. I’m finding that there’s different versions of him on screen as well.
“There’s the version where he gets in front of a press team and he’s a little more Donald Trump-esque because he’s trying to shove his agenda down people’s throats, and then there’s the version of him with Cat Grant, there’s a version of him with Supergirl,” he elaborated. “I think he has a lot of different levels to him. He’s not someone you can go, oh I know exactly who he is, he’s kind of different personas that he plays within himself.
“I kind of modeled him more after Elon Musk and Steve Jobs,” Peter added. “I think those people who are tech billionaires and have a drive to save humanity in some way. I took from that but there’s definite versions from the comic that are in there. It’s been fun to create him and every time I read a script, I’m like okay, so this is another facet of his personality.”
Whether he’s acting in one comic book adaptation or providing the source material for another, he still looks at things the same way. “For me, I like to say I’m a storyteller,” he reflected. “As an actor, you use your body to be a part of a story. As a producer, you get to actually find the story and create the story and build a team around it to tell that story. I’ve written scripts, as a writer you get actually invent the world in that. There’s different facets of me being able to tell the story.
“I love acting, but you’re always going to be a smaller part in a bigger wheel; when you’re producing and writing you actually get to have a little more power and be able to give jobs, you create something and you create more opportunities with people which feels good,” Peter continued. “I don’t think I’ll ever give up acting – I enjoy it too much – but I like writing and producing. I hope someday to direct.”
It sounds like, at least as far as being ambitious and wanting to create something good, he shares that aspect with his character. Maybe that’s why already Maxwell Lord is so hard to resist – because he’s being played by someone that you can’t help but like.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.