(Warning: The following technically contains major SPOILERS for the old-school CW show Smallville's later seasons, but at this point you've probably already seen it, right? Just in case, though, proceed with caution and all that.)
Now, for those of us ancient and decrepit enough to have watched Michael Rosenbaum's late '90s sitcom Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane on TV when it originally aired, the actor has always been best known as a comedic actor. It's why he was so perfectly cast to voice the irrepressible Wally West in the animated Justice League series, and why he's currently starring in TV Land's Impastor. From the sounds of it, though, Rosenbaum's comedic leanings were also a major part of the reason he departed beloved Superman-themed teen drama Smallville a few years before the show finally came to an end. Indeed, as Rosenbaum put it in a recent interview with Empire Online:
Michael Rosenbaum Left Smallville Because His Grandma Wanted Him To Do Comedy
Yup, that's right. According to Rosenbaum, his grandmother's thoughts on what he was best suited to as an actor came into play far more than you might imagine when it came time to commit to a further few seasons of the show:
"I remember sitting with Peter Roth, the president of Warner Brothers ... I've never really told this story. Everybody has an ego and I think everybody likes to get their way. Peter took me to dinner, because he tried to get me to do two more seasons of 'Smallville.' I was very polite and respectful. I said, 'Peter, my grandma thinks I'm funny and I've always wanted to do comedy, and I started out in comedy, and I was doing tons of comedy, and then I was catapulted into this role that I love and it's been great, but I was contracted for six years to play Lex Luthor, I did seven, and I'm just ready to move on and I'm just ready to take a new step.'"
To which Roth, it seems, responded with an argument that, in retrospect, may have been a little short-sighted:
"He looked at me and says, 'You know, Julianna Margulies, she turned down millions of dollars to stay with 'ER' and look where she is now.' It wasn’t two or three years later where she just made a fortune with 'The Good Wife' and all of that, and her career just took off. I said, 'I’m going to bank on my talent. I’m just going to take a chance on me. I think I’ve done this long enough, I did this character for seven years and I just don’t feel like shaving my head for two more years.' I came back for the finale, but at the time I just wanted to take a chance."
Now, it would certainly be possible to argue that Rosenbaum's gambit didn't really pay off — his career hasn't quite hit the heights of Smallville's success since he left the show — but there's still something pretty reassuring about his decision to take a chance on himself rather than simply taking the path of least resistance (and guaranteed income). It may not have been the obvious choice to everyone, but it was certainly the braver one.
Still want more on Smallville though? How about a look at how it's influenced modern day superhero TV? And, say, a look back at that time Booster Gold turned up?
In the meantime, what do you think? Was Rosenbaum right to leave Smallville when he did? Let us know below!