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Interview: Blaine Anderson and Brendan Taylor talk AMC’s “The Trials of Superman”

Canadian actors Blaine Anderson and Brendan Taylor will star in an episode of AMC’s new series “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics” as comic book legends Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. The episode, entitled “The Trials of Superman” airs Monday, November 20 at 10/9c. Executive-produced by Robert Kirkman (“The Walking Dead”), Dave Alpert, Daniel Junge, and Rory Karpf, the six-part documentary series examines a different storyline in each episode relating to comic book history using interviews with the likes of Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, and Patty Jenkins alongside in-depth, dramatic re-creations of key historical journeys.

“The Trials of Superman” episode examines the comic book origins of Superman and the legal aftermath that plagued its creators, Joe Shuster (Blaine Anderson) and Jerry Siegel (Brendan Taylor). We had the opportunity to interview both Blaine and Brendan about portraying Shuster and Siegel.

Blaine Anderson as Joe Shuster and Brendan Taylor as Jerry Siegel | Photo credit: AMC

Can you talk about how you each got started in acting?

Blaine: Out of high school, I did a small production of a play called “Lone Star” on stage. The thrill of that experience catapulted my interest into the art of acting. My Grandmother was a big supporter of my acting – she always said to look through the ages of all of the good actors, and don’t take for granted who came before you.

Brendan: I got started in acting in early high school. It was an elective course, and for some reason I just gravitated to it. I grew up loving movies and TV, but I was a really shy kid. Acting helped me break out of my shell. I loved it, and I pursued it all through high school, and a bit in college. But it wasn’t until the end of college that, while studying everything else, I realized what I didn’t want to be doing, which was equally important, and that acting was my true love.

How did you get involved with “AMC Visionaries?” Can you tell us about your episode “The Trials of Superman?” 

Blaine: The standard acting auditions applied for me, but I never auditioned for Joe Shuster. In the end, I couldn’t have been happier to play Joe. AMC and Skybound have come together to create a beautiful story that gets into the history of our most beloved comic book heroes and the people behind them! Where our episode is concerned, the focus is on Superman and his creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.

Brendan: I was submitted for the show just like any other audition, but I actually went out 5 times for it! I’m glad I stayed in their mind and they brought me back! “AMC Visionaries” is a documentary series about groundbreaking people and stories in different realms of entertainment. A representative from a genre brings together special stories behind the media, in this case, Robert Kirkman and comic books. This particular episode is titled “The Trials of Superman”, regarding the many years of litigation the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, spent fighting to be recognized for their creation.

Blaine Anderson as Joe Shuster and Brendan Taylor as Jerry Siegel | Photo credit: AMC

Can you describe your relationship with the Superman comic books and what you knew about the story of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel?

Blaine: I’ve always been a huge comic book fan. To this day, I remember when I bought the comic where Superman died. I was so angry and upset that I could have cried. Needless to say, my relationship with comics is strong. As a Canadian, I knew of Joe Shuster because of his Canadian-American upbringing. When I was in high school, Joe was the feature of a Heritage Minute, which was part of a series of Canadian commercials about important Canadians. Needless to say, it was my favorite one.

Brendan: I grew up reading and collecting comics, trading cards and posters. I loved going down to the local comic shop for the latest issue of X-Men, Superman or Batman. I knew the general story of Jerry and Joe, and how they sold off the rights to Superman early on, and being Canadian, it was well known that Joe Shuster, Superman’s animator, was Canadian! Canadians are proud of that!

What has been the most interesting thing in playing Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel? What were some of the things that surprised you about them that you didn’t expect?

Blaine:Joe Shuster was so passionate with his art. Just seeing people enjoy his work seemed to be enough for him. It’s amazing that he kept his passion so strong, despite years and years of legal battles to be recognized! Joe‘s eyesight was also very poor, which I can personally relate to. But it’s ironic that an artist who draws would be almost blind.

Brendan: This was my first time playing a real person, so that was definitely something different. I did my research and watched old videos of the two men, but I was most concerned with getting the story across, and his personality type. I really related to Jerry; he and Joe were pretty shy young men, so I felt like I was able to step into his shoes a bit easier. Something that I didn’t know about him was how prolific he was as a writer! Obviously Superman was the most well-known, but he was constantly writing sci-fi his whole life!

Blaine, you’ve produced several projects. Can you talk about “Residue” and the experience bringing that project to life?

Blaine: One of the many things that I enjoy with producing film is collaborating with like-minded and talented people. Solving problems and figuring out how to tell a story in interesting and truth be told, it’s what drives me as an actor and producer. “Residue” was on the list of movies that we wanted to produce with my company partners at Motorcycle Boy Productions (James Clayton and Rusty Nixon). We had a few other projects that we considered before we decided on “Residue”, but one thing led to another and it came to be. It’s a neo-noir mixed with horror and it’s been well-received at film festivals and is gathering good support throughout the horror community. Check it out on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon.

Superman has been in the pop culture sphere for so long. Can you tell audiences why they should tune-in to this show?

Blaine: Superman really is the hero that can do it all. My kids like to say, “He can pretty much do anything!” I also believe he stands for an ideal of truth and justice, and coming from another planet, his solitary view and love for mankind is unique to him. Where this show is concerned, I think people should tune in because what Superman stands for is also what Joe and Jerry believe in. Siegel and Shuster’s legal battle runs parallel to Superman’s own struggles.

Brendan: I think fans should tune in to learn the roots of their beloved icon. So often, art imitates life as life imitates art. Jerry and Joe’s struggle for truth and justice was shared with the famous superhero we all know and love. I really think that knowing this story will make audiences become even bigger fans.

What other projects are you working on or can we see you in next?

Blaine: I produced another horror film called “Selfie from Hell” that will be released 2018. It’s based on a short film that went viral on YouTube and it is sure to give a good scare! You can find all my upcoming projects at @BlaineActor on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and BlaineActor.com.

Brendan: I just finished shooting an episode of a really popular show that I can’t wait to share! But I can also say that you can catch me in 2018 recurring on season 2 of E!’s “The Arrangement”, and also on the next season of SyFy’s “The Magicians”! You can follow me @MrBrendanTaylor on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as well as at Brendan-Taylor.com!

Catch  “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics” on Mondays at 10/9c. “The Trials of Superman” episode will air on November 20.  You can also watch all episodes here

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