INTERVIEW TRANSCRIBED BY Rennie Cowan.
This is an unpublished interview that has never been read or heard until now - at Superboy Theater! This was a phone interview conducted by Dan Recchia for Teen Magazines Inc. in New York, May of 1990, before shooting began on the 3rd season of Superboy. Please do not reprint this without permission - it was given to me on audio cassette by Dan and I do have the original audio interviews on cassette tape. Unfortunately, Dan died back in 2002 but he entrusted it to me. The interview was conducted during a time when Gerard Christopher was concerned about being replaced by another actor due to Viacom's budget. Enjoy!
Dan Rechhia: Should I call you Jerry or Gerard, or what? Which is better?
Gerard Christopher: Whichever.
Dan Recchia: Whichever?
Gerard Christopher: Gerard.
Dan Recchia: Whichever is better for you, Jerry?
Gerard Christopher: It’s easier I guess (laughs).
Dan Rechhia: Alright, Jerry. So how are you doing right now? How’s the weather out there. It’s pouring rain in New York right now. It’s horrible and disgusting out here.
Gerard Christopher: Oh it’s, not bad.
Dan Recchia: I want to thank you for doing the interview. I really appreciate it. I’m really heavily into the show.
Gerard Christopher: Great.
Dan Recchia: I’m a big Superman fan. I like anything with that character anyway, regardless of whatever it is.
Gerard Christopher: That’s great.
Dan Recchia: Yeah I watch it on tape, I watch it regularly and I want to tell you up front that you are just doing a fantastic job. I can tell that you are really into the character. It’s a fun show.
Gerard Christopher: I hope so.
Dan Recchia: I also interviewed John Haymes Newton. You remember him?
Gerard Christopher: (laughs) Yes…I’ve never seen his shows but of course I know who he is.
Dan Recchia: No way, get out of here, really?! I have all his episodes on tape, and he was…well I’ll get a little bit into him later but I mean he was a nice guy and everything but I don’t think there was any comparison to be honest. They will never get rid of you, as far as the character and everything. Watching his shows now, I mean I have them all on tape –
Gerard Christopher: What do you mean they’ll never get rid of me?
Dan Recchia: Well, I don’t know exactly what happened with him and the story that I read, at least this is what was in print. I don’t know the whole dirt and everything but that he asked for a lot of money; he had a big head and they fired him basically. And there was something about a lot of bad driving tickets that he had.
Gerard Christopher: He had a very bad reputation.
Dan Recchia: Is that what it was? I mean he seemed like such a nice –
Gerard Christopher: For all it’s worth, he asked for money and it’s interesting that this phone call comes at a bad time – what magazine are you with?
Dan Recchia: This is a magazine called Zing. I’m actually the Art Director, I’m not the Editor. The Editor couldn’t care less about Superboy, she’s not into that stuff. She’s into more Teen stars. But I’m the Art Director. I do this and Zing, Teen Throbs, and I do a lot of Rock magazines here. And I’m really the one who wanted to do this interview. I pushed for it.
Gerard Christopher: Well that’s great. I’m very happy. I just hope that I’ll be on air again next season. I mean, I hope so.
Dan Recchia: Well, why? Have they picked it up?
Gerard Christopher: Well it’s interesting that you say they’ll never get rid of me. They don’t want to, but they are so incredibly and notoriously and meticulously cheap and abusive to actors that are working with Viacom.
Dan Recchia: That’s interesting.
Gerard Christopher: I’m in the middle and I’m just kind of starting the role.
Dan Recchia: You don’t know if you want to do it again?
Gerard Christopher: Yes.
Dan Recchia: Wow, that’s interesting. Well –
Gerard Christopher: I mean I would love to do the character again. I love the show. But the people I would have to be working with are interesting.
Dan Recchia: I want to move this along because I know you have limited time. I want to get in as many questions as possible.
Gerard Christopher: You should.
Dan Recchia: I have questions here but let me disregard what I wrote down and just pick up on this a little bit.
Gerard Christopher: Can you do me a favor? Do me a favor? I’d appreciate it if you didn’t print this stuff.
Dan Recchia: Not at all. I won’t print it.
Gerard Christopher: But I’ll tell you what. I have your phone number and if anything happens, I’ll call you. And you can add it to your magazine, if you want to print it.
Dan Recchia: You see you have to understand. This is a magazine for 14 year old girls, ok. It’s a very simple teen magazine.
Gerard Christopher: Well I’ll tell you, the people watching my show are right there.
Dan Recchia: I guess so. That’s unfortunate, you know, I wanted to ask you at some point about the George Reeve syndrome. It was this poor man back in the 1950’s that did a really good job. I mean I was heavily into that show.
Gerard Christopher: I’m very much into it, in fact I had a big discussion about him last night at dinner.
Dan Recchia: Well you know what he went through. Times are different now. This is not the 1950’s anymore. Maybe you can go from playing Superboy one day to starring in a Brian De Palma film tomorrow.
Gerard Christopher: I will say that for all it’s worth the story about his life and what happened to him, it’s hard to say….
Dan Recchia: Distorted?
Gerard Christopher: I’m looking for exactly the right words, but there is a lot of dispute about what actually happened. People claim that he was despondent and killed himself.
Dan Recchia: I’m not even talking about that. I’m not talking about the suicide.
Gerard Christopher: Some say he was murdered and all that.
Dan Recchia: I’m disregarding all of that. What I’m talking about is the thing when you start doing it – I mean you are in a perfect position to understand this. Because you are doing it; you’re wearing that costume every week.
Gerard Christopher: Yeah.
Dan Recchia: That suit which has been born by so many actors. It’s like playing Sherlock Holmes. You’re playing something that goes back to the 1940’s. Like Kirk Alan and all the other people who played in that costume, a lot of them, all these different people who have played that costume. But I’m sure even for him in 1951 to get out there and do something new, and he did it every week and he did it very well. Six years later, here he is in this costume, still, and he was basically a good actor and I’m sure he wanted to do a lot of things. But times are different, even for Christopher Reeve. It’s not easy to get out of that in people’s minds and say “hey, I can do other things than this”. And I can see how you would say, even aside from the money I don’t want to be Superboy my entire life. Michael Keaton, I’m sure he has a lot of questions about playing Batman again, even though the money was good, the publicity was good and everything, you don’t want to be this comic book cartoon thing.
Gerard Christopher: I don’t think that’s a real concern anymore.
Dan Recchia: No?
Gerard Christopher: Not really.
Dan Recchia: Ok, so I just want to ask you one thing. Is it Viacom, or the Salkinds?
Gerard Christopher: The Salkinds are out. Viacom are now the sole Producers of the show.
Dan Recchia: Oh wow, does it have to do with the movie because I heard they were doing another Superman soon.
Gerard Christopher: Well, I would prefer that you talk to the Salkinds about that. But I just believe they were very active in doing films and they wanted to concentrate their energies there.
Dan Recchia: Wow. Ok, let me kind of move away from this because I really want to find out more about you. I don’t know a thing about you other than what I watch on television. Where did you grow up and go to school and everything?
Gerard Christopher: I grew up in the Bronx. I went to Parochial High School.
Dan Recchia: That’s not the South Bronx I hope.
Gerard Christopher: Yeah, Parochial is in South Bronx. And it was an interesting background; I got street wise very early. I moved out of my parent’s home very young; when I was about 17 years old. I still ponder and think about whether or not it was the best thing to do. But if I hadn’t done that, who knows, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now. I ended up going to college at night and on the weekends. I modeled during the day. I was a model.
Dan Recchia: And this was all in New York?
Gerard Christopher: Yeah. I got to travel and I lived in New York most of the time. Then in 1984 I went to California, got an Agent and started acting. I did a TV Pilot and a movie and couple other TV things. It’s interesting because I started to back away from show business before I got this job because I got a real job in commercial real estate. Because I thought there was a career there and the acting business is so cereal time, you don’t know if it’s real, coming or going. You just don’t know.
Dan Recchia: Do you think – I mean you mention real estate – is acting always something you’ve taken seriously or is it something you know you can do and you know you can get jobs.
Gerard Christopher: No it’s something I always very serious about but it was something I just didn’t want to dabble in it. It’s something I either wanted to make my life or I don’t. Because I feel passionate about it in that regard; I didn’t want to do it to the determent of my entire life though, if you know what I mean. I didn’t want to call myself an actor and then, coming up on – well I’m going to be 31 tomorrow.
Dan Recchia: Oh wow, Happy Birthday.
Gerard Christopher: Thank you. And as you move on in life, I mean you’re a man. I suppose you are even older than I am.
Dan Recchia: I’m 38.
Gerard Christopher: You maybe know what the story is, at a certain point and time you want to move on with your life, and people have a different agenda. You may want to get married and have kids one day. You have to kind of move on and make a secure life for yourself.
Dan Recchia: You could do very well. You could do better as an actor than I can do here -- Art Directing a dumb magazine.
Gerard Christopher: Well it depends, and not necessarily when you are working for Viacom.
Dan Recchia: Oh, interesting. Well I guess if it’s not the Salkinds anymore and it’s just them maybe – you know -- I don’t know, I mean you’re on the inside of all of this. If it stinks then get out, that’s always been my attitude and I don’t care where it is. Anywhere; there’s a company in this building here, Starlog magazine, they suck. I worked there for a week and walked out. It’s not the end of the world. I’m still in the same building.
Gerard Christopher: They’re really trying to beat me over the head with it right now, and trying to put me in place. I did everything that I could have possibly done for the show last year. I was the typical case of what an actor should do when he’s working for somebody to keep them happy. And I did it. And now this is the way they reward me with a phone call I got today which was more or less setting the boundaries for where they think my contract is going this year and it’s very depressing and it doesn’t make me feel good.
Dan Recchia: So maybe John Haymes Newton wasn’t wrong.
Gerard Christopher: Well I have to press with saying I don’t know the guy but from what I heard he made a lot of mistakes. And not just one or two, but a lot of them - but that in combination with asking for more money was probably not a wise thing to do. I set myself apart in that I made it a point that, and basically I had a good lesson to learn from his bad experience, in that I should do everything very correctly and right. And that’s what I did.
Dan Recchia: Well from judging the show, you knocked yourself out.
Gerard Christopher: And I really did.
Dan Recchia: I mean just going up on those wires all the time is enough.
Gerard Christopher: Going up on the wires, even laying on the hot pavement where we shoot the shows in Florida. When it’s like 97 degrees out. The pavement must be 200 degrees. I have to play a scene where I got knocked out or knocked down and I would have to lay down and have my face literally on the pavement. You know, they can’t pay me enough for that.
Dan Recchia: You’re right, you’re right.
Gerard Christopher: And you know to wear that costume; it is physically the toughest thing I have ever done in my life.
Dan Recchia: Well, it’s good to say you’ve done it. If you don’t want to do it anymore, you just don’t do it.
Gerard Christopher: I would love to do it. I would love to continue doing it. I have no problem with it, or with the threat of being stereo-typed or type-cast. That doesn’t bother me. Because I think I can overcome that. I don’t think it’s a problem.
Dan Recchia: Anybody can overcome that.
Gerard Christopher: My problem with the situation is that working on a TV show should be one of the high points of an actor’s life. You’re an employee, and the employer is making it the most miserable times of your life, I don’t think it averages out.
Dan Recchia: I agree. Absolutely.
Gerard Christopher: But I’m here to tell you, I like yourself grew up with Superman, George Reeves. I lived it. I breathed it. I used to run around the house with a towel around my neck.
Dan Recchia: [laughs] That’s great.
Gerard Christopher: I used to jump off my dresser and my bed.
Dan Recchia: You know it’s funny, because the first time I saw a picture of you it was just your face. It was in the New York Daily News where it said actor Gerard Christopher is taking over the role. And you know, when I saw your picture I don’t know why I had this reaction but my first reaction was “this guy looks like he isn’t into this kind of stuff…and he doesn’t look like he is into comics and the super-characters and everything.” But I guess I’m wrong. But I guess you’re like me; you like it. Are you familiar with the Fleischer cartoons?
Gerard Christopher: I have seen every one of them. I have a copy of every Fleischer cartoon.
Dan Recchia: Do you have that old Superboy pilot?
Gerard Christopher: I have the old Superboy pilot; mine is a very bad copy. I know the actor in that as a matter of fact.
Dan Recchia: John Rockwell, wow.
Gerard Christopher: Yeah.
Dan Recchia: I have that tape and I taped the Superboy season 2 opening two-parter on the same tape.
Gerard Christopher: I have all of my shows. I have all of the movies.
Dan Recchia: That’s great.
Gerard Christopher: I have six published episodes of the George Reeve’s show, maybe more; six or maybe eight of them. I have all of the Kirk Alan shows.
Dan Recchia: Well, that’s terrific. I’m happy to hear that.
Gerard Christopher: I have all the cartoons. I have the cartoons from the sixties as well as the cartoons from the forties.
Dan Recchia: Well let me just tell you, as a fan and as somebody who really watches this stuff, I think you are doing it as well as anyone who ever has.
Gerard Christopher: I appreciate that. I appreciate that.
Dan Recchia: And I genuinely mean that.
Gerard Christopher: Well, I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you call Viacom and let them know.
Dan Recchia: [laughs] Well they don’t have to, it’s there. I mean, you have done 26 shows or whatever. It’s there on screen. And if they are stupid enough not to see it, then the hell with them.
Gerard Christopher: Well they have a very simple attitude –
Dan Recchia: Gerard, it’s just a TV show that’s all it is.
Gerard Christopher: It’s more than a TV show because acting is my life. It’s my career.
Dan Recchia: Ok, but there’s other things than Superboy.
Gerard Christopher: I agree. I agree.
Dan Recchia: I mean I tell people here that I am interviewing Superboy and –
Gerard Christopher: But you know what I’m saying, it’s something you like to do. It was something that I believed in, because this is a spring-board for things that I consider to be personally important to me. Like I’m getting involved with doing charities; I’m getting involved with children. I wrote a letter to President Bush, I’m trying to become a spokesperson against drugs.
Dan Recchia: Wow that’s great.
Gerard Christopher: … and for education and all these things which are things that are on my personal agenda to do.
Dan Recchia: Well, tell me something there. Because there is something I wanted to ask you along with where you grew up, and where you went to school, what your interests were other than…well watching you; you are playing a particular character. You are playing this guy who pushes…well I don’t know how many times a show you keep pushing those eye glasses up with your finger, I noticed that all the time as Clark Kent. It’s like a particular thing you do, but I mean tell me something about you, the person that doesn’t come across on television because you are playing a specific character. There’s going to be aspects of your personality that just don’t come through.
Gerard Christopher: I probably do have a little bit of a temper like Superboy [laughs] and I’m not happy about that. You know I’m a lot more human than he is. He’s not human, he’s alien. He has a much better grip on his life, and his feelings and things like that.
Dan Recchia: Not the way George Reeve’s played him. Man, he got angry.
Gerard Christopher: Well, that’s the way they wanted him to do it which is something I would like to see more often. To make him a little bit more real. And as a matter of fact, that’s the real direction the show is going to take this year. This season is going to turn more into Superman than Superboy.
Dan Recchia: Wow, that’s interesting.
Gerard Christopher: In fact, in all but name it is going to be Superman.
Dan Recchia: That’s great. Tell me, who do you admire as far as actors and movies? Do you have any favorite films?
Gerard Christopher: I have a couple. A favorite film is tough because there are so many great films I have seen throughout my life. Favorite actors, I like Sean Connery. I like Robert De Niro. I like Richard Gere for some other quality that he had; he has this arrogance about him that I kind of like. I like Meryl Streep. And I guess she is my favorite female actress.
Dan Recchia: Do you have any videos. Like things that you’ve bought. We all have our own collections.
Gerard Christopher: It’s hard for me to say what are my favorite shows -- I really like a lot of action/adventure stuff. I like political thrillers. You know, I like suspense. I’m kind of not too much into horror films and things like that.
Dan Recchia: How about reading? Are you a reader?
Gerard Christopher: Oh yeah.
Dan Recchia: Like what? Non-fiction? Fiction? Are there any author’s you like?
Gerard Christopher: I’ll tell you, most of what I read is non-fiction. At first I was kind of a veteran reader. I always carried something to read. I always liked to be learning something. As a kid, I think I read every volume of my Encyclopedia at home, when I was age like 8. I really was a crazy reader and I like to learn. I think I have a pretty active imagination. I think to a large degree that I wasn’t a mad-dog for other people’s fiction. I kind of created my own fiction.
Dan Recchia: I think I know what you mean by that.
Gerard Christopher: And right now I’m writing screenplays and a bunch of teleplays for the show. And I’m doing them on my own.
Dan Recchia: You are? That’s great. That’s just like -- I was just wondering, that’s the thing Reeves wanted to do toward the end of the show, is to start directing shows and I don’t know about writing.
Gerard Christopher: Well he did, he directed episodes.
Dan Recchia: He directed like the last three.
Gerard Christopher: This season, if I’m back, I would like to direct; I got screenplays. I’ve already written some.
Dan Recchia: Well, what about music. What kind of music do you like?
Gerard Christopher: My favorite is kind of an odd-ball. My favorite is classical. I really like Jazz. I like popular stuff, like R&B. But my favorite is classical.
Dan Recchia: When you say classical, like what?
Gerard Christopher: Like Beethoven and Mozart. Tchaikovsky and things like that.
Dan Recchia: Do you play anything at all?
Gerard Christopher: I really don’t. Unfortunately, most of my family is really musically inclined and I probably am if I ever applied myself to it. I have a piano and I’ve taken a few lessons, but I’ve never taken the time, or took the time, to really get into it. One day I will. I’m going to be there at my piano one day.
Dan Recchia: As someone who is interested in acting, do you like – because my favorite music is film scores. I love movie soundtracks. Do you like soundtracks at all?
Gerard Christopher: Oh yeah. I think there were some of them that were really great. I think music can really help the show quite a bit. When you think of “Chariots of Fire” I think the music for that really stood out in my mind.
Dan Recchia: By the way, I’m just curious because you must have seen some of this. Who is this guy that does all the music on the show, Kevin Kiner? Is he like a one-man-band? Is he all synthesizers?
Gerard Christopher: Yeah. He’s a one-man guy. And I believe he does it all out of his own little studio that he must have in his house. And he’s a talented guy.
Dan Recchia: So let me just ask you a few more questions. I guess about the show itself. I want to ask you about the flying, actually, which is like the most spectacular thing. What was it like going up – it’s like everyone’s fantasy, especially mine, going up –
Gerard Christopher: It really was mine too.
Dan Recchia: Going up on those wires –
Gerard Christopher: I imagine you have to. Everybody’s had a dream of –
Dan Recchia: Well, let me tell you just two fast things which you will get a kick out of. When I was a kid I was stupid enough to run around with a little costume, and even behind the bushes.
Gerard Christopher: Oh you to?
Dan Recchia: Of course. Not too many people will admit to that.
Gerard Christopher: Oh why, why? Why not?
Dan Recchia: Well, believe me. I don’t know about the people you run around with, but generally people are not into, well, people I know are not into things like Superman. Even when I tell people here that I am interviewing you they kind of roll their eyes “Superboy”. Even the Editor of this magazine isn’t terribly interested. There is a select group of people that it’s going to get to.
Gerard Christopher: Can I suggest one thing?
Dan Recchia: Yeah, sure.
Gerard Christopher: For whatever their person attitudes are is one thing, but when they – when the publishers who work at a magazine like that and it caters to a demographic, you said young girls that are 14 and they are ignoring a character that is so much directed, and pointed almost directly at that age group, I think it’s pretty foolish.
Dan Recchia: And you’re right. I agree with you.
Gerard Christopher: Pretty, pretty foolish because that is the demographics for our show.
Dan Recchia: Well Jerry, look, that’s why you see New Kids on the Block in every magazine. And you don’t see a lot of other things. But any way, let me get away from it. The other thing I wanted to tell you, you probably don’t know this but many years ago, and this is bizarre but it’s funny -- many, many years ago in the Superman comic books they ran a letter from some kid. It was during the early sixties who claimed that he had been disfigured in some accident and he wanted the plastic surgeons to make him look like Superboy. And he actually – this is absolutely true because a friend reminded me of this not too long ago. And he wanted DC comics to send him different angles, drawings so that the surgeons [laughs] could make him look – I don’t know if this is true or not and I somehow doubt it. But watching you on the screen, because I mean you look so much like the classic Superboy I had this image of this kid. You know, here he is. He did it.
Gerard Christopher: [laughs] They’re telling me here that I have to get going because I have a 2:30 PM, but do you have any questions I can answer very quickly?
Dan Recchia: Oh ok. Quickly – let me just scan these questions here. I’m going to ask you about your co-workers, Lana and IIan Mitchell-Smith who my Editor knew – he worked in a video store in New York City a couple years ago and she was like very friendly with him. Do you like your co-workers? Stacy and –
Gerard Christopher: They’re great. They’re great.
Dan Recchia: And I have to ask you about the guest stars. You’ve had some amazing guest stars on that show. People like, oh I don’t know, Gilbert Godfrey. I couldn’t believe it! George Lazenby?! Of all people.
Gerard Christopher: He was James Bond.
Dan Recchia: Do you get to talk to these people?
Gerard Christopher: Of course, George Lazenby and I became very close as a matter of fact. And that part of it has been a lot of fun. The relationships that I have forged; the people I have met. It makes me feel good to know that nice people –
Dan Recchia: This guy Sherman Howard, who I remember as Howard Sherman from “Day of the Dead”….
Gerard Christopher: Exactly.
Dan Rechhia: Why did he switch – why did he reverse his name, do you know?
Gerard Christopher: Um, he talked about, well I prefer you talk to him about that, but he got into the sound of the name and what helps an actor, and you know, as far as a sound of a name goes and he just thought his name would work better if he switched it.
Dan Recchia: Well listen, Jerry, I’m going to let you go. I want to really thank you for doing this.
Gerard Christopher: Hey, my pleasure.
Dan Recchia: I wish you a lot of luck. To me, you’ve done a good job. I don’t necessarily care if you come back because the shows are good. It’s your life. You do what you want to do. If you want to come back next year, I mean whatever. I’m sure they’ll have other people in mind. I don’t know if they will be as good as you were, but they’ll get somebody else. I do have to ask you quickly, did you go up for the role the first time they cast for it?
Gerard Christopher: No. I never heard about it.
Dan Recchia: Oh, so it wasn’t that they picked the other guy over you. The second time they just – ok well that’s another story. Ok, Gerard, I’m going to let you go, alright?
Gerard Christopher: Alright. Thanks a lot.
Dan Recchia: You take care. Bye bye.
Gerard Christopher: Bye Bye.
As we all know they renewed the series and picked it up for another year, the third season. And here’s the good part – Dan decided to do another interview with Gerard right after the premiere of the 3rd, fall season of “The Adventures of Superboy” and on a Sunday afternoon in New York. So COMING SOON to Superboy Theater!