Supergirl: Jesse Rath on Brainiac 5 Adjusting to the 21st Century

The CW
The CW

Krypton’s favorite daughter is back on the small screen this week as Supergirl returns for its fourth season. The series comes back with an array of new faces, as well as a new air date, with episodes airing on Sundays on The CW and Showcase.

Now having saved the world from Reign, Kara (Melissa Benoist) is about to face a very different kind of threat: fear and hate. The anti-alien rhetoric in National City continues to grow, with Agent Liberty, played by newcomer Sam Witwer, becoming the mastermind behind a terrifying hate group. On the flip side, the series is making major strides in its LGBTQ representation with Nicole Maines joining the cast as Dreamer, TV’s first transgender superhero.

To learn more about what’s to come this season The TV Junkies spoke with Brainiac 5 actor Jesse Rath, who was promoted to a series regular this season following the departure of Jeremy Jordan’s Winn. We discuss how Brainy is adjusting to the 21st century, relating to the new characters joining this season, and his admiration of cast member Chyler Leigh.

 

TTVJ: How has it been since becoming a series regular this year?

Jesse Rath: It’s been great. There’s a lot more decimal points to memorize. [laughs] It’s been a lot of fun. It’s definitely a dream job of mine. I’m just such a huge comic book fan and a fan of the show in particular, so it’s surreal. But we’re hard at work, so we’re just plugging away.

TTVJ: Did Jeremy Jordan give you any advice on being the resident nerd at the DEO?

JR: Yeah, he did. What did he tell me? He was kind of, like, passing the torch, in a way, and on the last day he told me that this is him trying to get me to fill his shoes. So he was saying to just get angry sometimes and then make up for it later. I guess that was Jeremy’s motto. [laughs] But in terms of working in the DEO, I sit at the same seat [Winn] used to sit, much to Alex’s chagrin. And that chair is just not as smooth as the Legion cruiser’s chair. So I had to adjust the back support and get used to it. But I think right now it’s smooth sailing.

TTVJ: How is Brainy coping without his friends at the Legion this year?

JR: You know, I think he presents a very calm and collected facade, but I think deep down he misses [his Legion friends] in the same way the characters of Supergirl miss Winn. It might take a minute for him to show that. He’s not a guy who really wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s a jigsaw puzzle. He’s like a walking sudoku where you’ve got to figure him out for a minute before you kind of understand where he’s coming from. But yeah, it’ll be fun to watch in this new season to see how he could learn [and] how Brainy is taking all of this. It’s gonna be a struggle for him and for everyone else because he’s not the easiest guy to work with and to get along with. But it’ll be fun to see him find his rhythm with all the characters on the show.

TTVJ: It must be interesting as an actor to get a character like this who is very logical, and to have the opportunity to peel back those layers and get the emotion behind it.

JR: It is, yeah. It’s a lot of fun, especially when he himself doesn’t know where these emotions are coming from. You know, he was homeschooled, right? He was raised on Colu by these robots. I kind of take it like he has studied social interaction but doesn’t have a lot of firsthand experience. He’s kind of figuring out how it all works with everyone else, with the viewers as they watch. It’s all new to him too.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Jack Rowand
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Jack Rowand

TTVJ: Who are the characters that he’s going to be interacting with most this season?

JR: Because the Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onzz, has left the DEO, Alex has now been promoted to the director of the DEO and so he’s been working closely under her. A lot of the scenes, especially at the beginning of the season, will be with Alex and those are some of my favorite team, the Alex and Brainy scenes. And then he’ll get his chance to go off with Lena (Katie McGrath) and start ‘sciencing’ everything. And those are really fun too. So my favorite scenes so far, especially in these first few episodes, are with Brainy and Alex, and Brainy and Lena.

TTVJ: We’re huge fans of Alex and Lena at our website, so that’s some really good company to be with.

JR: You know, starting the season, Melissa was in New York starring in a Broadway show and we had to schedule everything kind of around that. So for the first little while Chyler was, in my opinion, really holding this show together. I had a lot of scenes with her and watching her, just the way she is at work and her professionalism. And, you know, carrying the responsibility of playing a strong lesbian character on TV and at the same time being a mother of three, I was just really impressed by her. She’s really like my superhero in real life. I really look up to her and really had a respect for her in these first few episodes of the show. So I’m a huge Alex Danvers fan, and a Lena fan. So I was really happy to shoot those scenes with them and I think you guys are really going to like them.

TTVJ: Supergirl lost a few characters last season, but there are a lot of new characters coming in. How has that affected the dynamic of Season 4?

JR: I mean, obviously everyone’s sad to see people go, but the thing about superhero shows, especially the case in comics, is that when people are gone, they’re not really gone forever. So I think everyone holds out hope for Winn and Mon-El (Chris Wood) returning, and I think that is the plan, at least for Winn, this season. Everyone’s excited to have Jeremy come back and it’s never really goodbye forever.

And, with the new characters, I get a kick out of new characters joining the show because I can definitely relate. You know, that was me last season and I know what it’s like to join a new show and, with a show that is big as our show is, it can be daunting. I think everyone has been welcoming to the new characters the same way that everyone was so welcoming to me when I joined the show. It’s not always the case on every show that you get a cast and a crew that are just so awesome. But I really lucked out with Supergirl because everyone’s just been so great and so welcoming. It’s a real family that they have going here. It’s always fun to get new characters and I’m still hoping to one day see some more Legion members join the show. I’m really hoping that at some point we get Bouncing Boy on the show. That’s one of my favorite Legion characters.

TTVJ: That would be interesting. I feel like the added CGI might push the budget though.

JR: I think we can make it happen. ‘You’ll believe a boy can bounce.’ That’ll be the tagline.

TTVJ: The showrunners have mentioned that in this season fear is the villain, and there’s a lot of anti-alien rhetoric going on. What does that mean for Brainy?

JR: I mean, it’s definitely something that he can relate with, you know, being a blue alien with light bulbs on his forehead. He can’t really blend in like everyone else can, so he has that image inducer. You’ll see what he ends up doing with that technology and how that technology comes into play in the season. It’s something that, at first, he doesn’t see as a problem because he’s from the future. He knows how things are gonna play out in broad strokes, and he doesn’t really worry too much about it. I like to think of him as a walking spoiler alert. He’s kind of having to censor himself at every moment out of fear of disrupting the time space continuum. But what he’ll learn fairly early on is that there’s a difference between knowing history and experiencing history firsthand. He’ll realize that the 21st century maybe isn’t as safe as he thought it was, and there still are challenges and struggles experiencing this anti-alien rhetoric along with everyone else who’s an alien in the 21st century.

 

Are you looking forward to Supergirl‘s return? Sound off in the comments below.

Supergirl Season 4 premieres Sunday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW and Showcase.

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