In conversation with Michael Bishop
Interview by Marie-Pauline & Jana Letonja
Australian actor Michael Bishop joined the cast of the CW series ‘Superman and Lois’, playing the role of Jonathan Kent. The series debuted its third season this Spring and has been renewed for a fourth season. He made his American film debut in the summer of 2021 with his breakout lead role in Disney Channel’s original movie ‘Spin’ as ‘DJ Max’.
How do you feel about having landed the role of Jonathan Kent in the series ‘Superman and Lois‘?
It was definitely intimidating, but I was really excited. I love John Kent and think he’s such an awesome character in the comics and on the show. I was already a huge fan of the show, but because everyone already loved the previous actor so much, I really wanted to respect what he did, so that definitely made it intimidating.
However, I think the proudest moment of my career so far is probably taking on this really daunting experience of replacing an actor. I think no matter where you are in your career this experience can feel scary. I definitely was terrified, but I’m really proud of myself for doing it. I could have said no and turned it down, but it was important for me to believe in myself.
How did you prepare to play this iconic comic book character?
I only had about 5 days from when I booked the role to when we actually started shooting, which is an unusually quick turnaround. I was lucky in that I felt I already knew this character pretty well and definitely can relate to him personally. I’d like to think we’re not too far from each other. He really works to prioritize love and respect in everything he does and everyone he meets. I think I’m like John in how kind he is, although I don’t know if my brothers would say the same.
Were you a Superman fan yourself when you were younger? What was it like to play a superhero? Wasn’t it too much pressure, considering how intense and attentive to detail superhero fans can be?
Growing up, I was a huge fan of Superman and still am today. As a kid, I was Superman for Halloween if that gives you an idea of how much I love the character. Even then, I was terrified to take on this role, but what I was really terrified of was disappointing the fans. John is a beloved character from the comics and I knew that this fandom would be watching my choices as an actor closely. Knowing how much I love Superman and John Kent, I was prepared to show my version of the character to the world. I’ve felt really grateful to see such a positive response from the fans.
Disney Chanel’s ‘Spin‘, where you made your American film debut, was recently cited as the first DCOM with an Indian-American female lead, highlighting Indian culture in the most positive light on the small screen. How does it feel to have acted in such an important film for the cinema industry?
I am so lucky to be attached to that project. It was an incredible thing to experience. I always felt like we were doing something good when we were making ‘Spin’, so it’s great to see how much it resonated and still means so much to movie lovers and DCOM fans.
You play a DJ in it and we heard that you had to learn to perform for this role. Are you still practicing DJ-ing?
No, I gave that up a long time ago. I never had it in me. I’m pretty sure I haven’t picked up a record to DJ since we wrapped. Avantika took to it almost immediately when we were given lessons before filming and I don’t think many understand just how intricate and difficult the process is when you’re actually using vinyl. But yeah, it’s definitely not in my genes.
What inspired you to become an actor?
Acting is something that has stuck with me since I was a child. It feels like I just always did it. Growing up, I was really extroverted and I was constantly creating new performances to share with my family. I’d even convince some of my cousins to join in and we’d put on plays about knights, dragons and so on for the adults. My mom saw this spark in me and signed me up for a theater class around the age of 10 or 11. She believed since I had all this energy, I needed to have a proper outlet where I could release it. From there, my love for acting grew.
Can you tell us about a role that has particularly marked you in your career so far? And is there a particular role or film you would have dreamed of acting in?
I think that every character that you do leaves a mark on you. You always leave a little bit of yourself with the character and each one is attached to a certain time in your life. I’m definitely impacted by all of my roles. I learned a lot from every character I’ve played and I think that is what makes being an actor so great.
A particular role I would love to play is the villain. I think their stories are very important and impactful, and seeing their side allows the audience to understand certain themes the good guys can’t always convey. They also get a good piece of the storyline and I love a good storyline, so a villain would be great.
What is your favourite sport to keep you active? You are Australian, so one would assume you love to surf?
Surfing is always the go-to people assume because of me being Australian. That totally makes sense. But surprisingly, I’m terrible at it. I can stand up, which I’m proud of, but I’m definitely no Kelly Slater or anything like that.
Apart from acting, in what other area would you like to explore your artistic talent?
I love writing. I am a bit obsessed with it. I think that the whole medium is so incredible. Can we just give the writers more money? Seriously. I think it’s so incredible to have that talent. It takes real skill to be able to write a great film or TV series and it’s definitely something that I want to explore in the future. I hope I get an opportunity to do so.
How do you plan to use your fame to support causes that are important to you, such as fight against breast cancer and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community?
The best thing we can do is just speak about it. I believe anyone with a platform should. I think you have to stand up for what’s right and what you believe in, especially in ways that you can do on a daily basis. That’s why I think people who are fortunate enough to have that kind of audience should say something. It’s a necessity.
As you probably know, we are a cultural magazine. We love culture in all its forms and especially fashion. What role does fashion play in your life?
I love fashion and believe it is a whole art form within itself. I wish I had more skill in that department because some days I question my outfits and what I was thinking after I leave the house. Something else I love about fashion is that it gives you the power to emphasize different aspects of yourself. It’s kind of like a costume, but you’re still being you. I think people who have the ability to showcase themselves through clothing are just so cool. I’m hoping I can get to that point one day.
What are your future goals and aspirations, both personally and professionally?
My future goals and aspirations are quite simply to continue entertaining. I want to create movies that mean something to people and allow them to briefly take a break from the stress of real world. That would be the main goal for me.
Photography BEN COPE