Melissa Benoist on Playing ‘Supergirl’

Melissa Benoist and her dog

Melissa Benoist and her dog

Variety has a really fun interview with Melissa Benoist on how she landed the role of Supergirl and what it’s like working on the show. Benoist was casting director David Rappaport’s first choice for the role, and exec producer Greg Berlanti shared his enthusiasm for the actress. “If we had not found her, I would have said ‘I don’t want to make this,’” said Berlanti. But it wasn’t a sure thing by any means — many auditions and screen tests took place before Benoist found out she’d won the role.

How do you get the role of Supergirl?

I believe I was the first girl they saw. I think the same went for Grant. Ten auditions later, three screen tests later, two and a half months later… I got the call. Greg championed me the whole time and was in my corner. Even when I didn’t think the part was mine, he was always rooting for me. That support goes a long way, especially when I’m fighting for something I want so badly. His belief in me really touched me.

Benoist describes Kara as “quirky and eccentric and intelligent and on this journey of self-discovery. She’s figuring out how to be a woman and the difficulties of that.” Difficulties like being labelled Supergirl by folks like Cat Grant, being stuck in an unfulfilling job, and figuring out her own way to make an impact in the world. I’m very interested in seeing this play out in the context of a superhero serial.

Are you doing any of your own stunts?

A lot of them. My stunt double is amazing, Shauna Duggins. She is incredibly talented. There are some stunts that she does that I would never try. But I have been doing a lot and I want to keep doing them. Already I’ve fought a male on the show. Supergirl’s fight moves are boxing. She’s really heavy-handed. There’s some flying that involves kicking and punching mid-flight that’s kind of awesome.

Cool, we know her stunt double! Shauna Duggins (pictured here) is a prolific stunt artist and coordinator who has doubled for Jennifer Garner in Alias and as Elektra, for Hayley Atwell in Captain America, Stana Katic on Castle, and many more.

What kind of training have you had to do?

Lots! The wirework for training is mostly core work. It’s mostly ab-centric — the whole area of the body that nobody wants to work out. You have to get strong. You have to carry your whole body weight when you’re up in the air.

The Behind the Scenes video shows Benoist in the flying harness and it’s clear that she’s supporting herself entirely on her own strength. It’s amazing how much strength actors in flying roles have to have.

Read the entire interview at Variety, it’s really good.