Amy Jo Johnson Is Approaching Superman & Lois Episode Like a Feature Film

Amy Jo Johnson has entered the DC Universe after directing next week’s episode of Superman & Lois, adding yet another major franchise to her impressive resume. Johnson has been a part of several beloved shows throughout her career, starting with her role as Kimberly the Pink Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and then moving on to shows like Felicity and Flashpoint. Since then she’s directed two films and is now jumping behind the camera for Superman & Lois, and ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Johnson all about how she got involved in the DC Universe, what it’s like working with a character like Superman, and if she would return for another go.

Johnson will be helming this coming week’s episode of Superman & Lois, and the journey to entering the DC television universe started last year as she was planning out her next film.

“So around last January, to be exact, I had been sitting in my house for a year, during the pandemic, waiting to do my next film. Because I stopped acting eight years ago, just to back up a little bit, and decided I wanted to write and direct. So I made four short films and my first feature film, it was called The Space Between and then raised more money and got a second feature film off the ground called Tammy’s Always Dying, which stars Felicity Huffman. And it went to TIFF and it was such an amazing fun ride, and I love it. I love indie filmmaking, but it takes a lot to make a movie and it takes a long time. I feel like my entire being lights up and I’m in my purpose and I never felt that way as an actor,” Johnson said.

“It’s a very different feeling for me. I’m not lazy as a director. I think I was maybe a little lazy actor sometimes, a little bit,” Johnson said. “I don’t know, maybe a little complacent. But anyway, after Tammy’s Always Dying came out, I realized, okay, this is going to take a long time to get my next feature off the ground. There’s a whole world of television out there. So I told my manager last January, I was like, okay, I want to do episodic television.”

After several meetings, she found out she was directing episode six, and she went all-in, treating it like it was its own mini-movie.

“So I went through a lot of different interviews and specifically with Chad Kennedy who used to be with Warner Brothers and we had great conversations and he was a really big part in me getting this job. He really championed me and put me forward, and then I had meetings with Todd Helbing, the showrunner, and the CW. It was a lot of meetings, and then they gave me one last summer. I found out that I got episode six, so I prepped like a mother… I was so excited. I went in there like I’m shooting a feature film. We’ll see how the episode is.”

A show like Superman & Lois features multiple directors and larger teams all helping to create the project’s world and vision, which would seem quite different from being the sole person making creative decisions from script to final film, but while it was a bit of an adjustment for Johnson, it was also quite refreshing.

“It was surprisingly refreshing and a little bit of an adjustment, and learning how to use Zoom was my biggest problem. But I found that the pressure in some ways was taken off because I’m there to try my hardest to fulfill Todd’s vision for the writers of the episode, which was Max Kronick and Patrick Leahy who were awesome,” Johnson said. “I think this was the first episode they’ve ever written. Yeah. Patrick is Todd’s assistant in the writer’s room, and I think Max works in the writer’s room as well. It’s their first script for the show, and I loved their episode. I love it. There’s a lot of pressure in that to do a good job for the show, but at the same time I go in there, I do the best I can, get in the editing room, do the best I can, and then it’s like passing a baton in a way. Where on a feature film, now I’m in the editing room for four months and there’s no baton to pass. So that was really exciting and different for me.”

It’s not every day you get to work on one of the superhero world’s most iconic characters, and for Johnson, it brought things full circle, as she was a huge fan of The Last Son of Krypton since she was a kid.

“Crazy, right? I was a huge Superman fan as a kid, and I saw all the movies and I wasn’t really into comic books per se, but my boyfriend, I have to say is a huge comic book fan,” Johnson said. “So it was exciting getting the script and it was exciting for him too.”

Johnson is continually impressed by the show’s cinematic quality, but it’s the family drama that really hooked her on it.

“What attracted me most to the show, because I started watching it from the first season, was just how cinematic it is. And I really love the balance between action and the family drama,” Johnson said. “For me, as a filmmaker and the type of filmmaker I’ve been, the family drama stuff is in my wheelhouse. It was super exciting to jump into doing some action-packed stuff and learning how to do green screen and use a 100-foot crane and just toys and stuff that the budget of one episode of this is three of my films. Or more.”

So, would she jump back in for another episode? “Oh, absolutely. I would go back in a heartbeat,” Johnson said. “Everybody was so generous, so helpful, so talented. Honestly, I told my boyfriend in the middle of it, because it was a monster, it’s a big show to go in there and direct and figure out how you want to shoot it. And I said, this is going to sound strange, but it felt a bit like driving this giant tractor that just drove really well. Everybody was so good at their jobs. It was just such a well-oiled machine, and I get to just get in on this big tractor and just go driving it for a couple of weeks. It was so fun.”

You can watch Johnson’s episode of Superman & Lois on The CW next Tuesday at 8/9 CST, and let us know what you think of the episode in the comments or by hitting me up on Twitter for all things DC @MattAguilarCB!

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