Amy Jo Johnson is no stranger to superheroes, and now she sets out to direct one.
The independent filmmaker and actress has spent the last few weeks in Vancouver directing this Tuesday’s episode of Superman & Lois entitled “Tried and True.” Her approach to directing an installment of a weekly TV series, however, was not with the mentality of it being made for television. Further, the journey to getting to the helm seemed like a never ending battle itself.
“[I went] through a lot of interviews, ” Johnson explains, “specifically with Chad Kennedy who used to be with Warner Brothers and we had great conversations and he really was a big part in me getting the job. He really championed me and put me forward, and then I had meetings with [showrunner Todd Helbing and The CW.] It was a lot of meetings and then they gave me one last summer. I found out 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.”
Amy Jo Reflecting on Directors Team And Love For The Series
As someone who had become used to being the sole decision-maker on a project – coupled with the difficulties the pandemic created in both her professional and personal life – Johnson found it invigorating to come on to a show that was manned by a team of directors.
“It was surprisingly refreshing and a little bit of an adjustment, and learning how to use my 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 Kronik and Patrick Leahy who were [awesome. This] was the first episode they’ve ever written [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 a passing 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.”
Amy Jo – or AJ to her friends – has a body of work that stretches across 3 decades. Kids of the 90s fondly remember her breakout role as Kimberly Hart/Pink Ranger in Fox’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. After three seasons, she departed to star in high-profile dramas like Felicity and The Division and action series like the Toronto-based Flashpoint (no, no speedsters involved) and Covert Affairs. Amy Jo even made Toronto her home with her family for several years after acquiring dual citizenship. Her film credits in front of the camera include Space and Time, and a full-circle cameo with fellow alum Jason David Frank in the Power Rangers reboot film. She is also an accomplished singer-songwriter with three albums under her belt. She eventually took the director’s chair behind short films Lines, Bent, and The Blunder and full-length projects Tammy’s Always Dying and The Space Between, in which she also had a role. She is also mother to a young daughter and in a new relationship following a divorce in 2017.
And did we happen to mention that she was also a lifelong fan of The Man of Steel?
“I was a huge Superman fan as a kid, and I saw all of 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.] So it was exciting getting the script and it was exciting for him too. [The show’s cinematic style was what] attracted me most [during its first season.] And I really love the balance between action and family [drama. For] me, as a filmmaker and the type of filmmaker that I’ve been, the family drama stuff is in my wheelhouse. It was super exciting to jump into doing some action-packed stuff that the budget of one episode of this is three of my films. Or more.”
The network has released this official synopsis:
“AMY JO JOHNSON (“FELICITY”) DIRECTS – Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) tells Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) that she and Chrissy (Sofia Hasmik) plan to do a deeper dive into the Inverse Society and Lana (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Sarah (Inde Navarrette) try to comfort each other after the fallout at Sarah’s quinceañera. Meanwhile, Jordan (Alex Garfin) notices something suspicious in Jonathan’s (Jordan Elsass) book bag. Lastly, Lt. Mitch Anderson (guest star Ian Bohen “Teen Wolf”) finds himself under fire for the deterioration of the department of defense’s relationship with Superman. Dylan Walsh, Erik Valdez, Wole Parks, Tayler Buck also star. The episode was directed by Amy Jo Johnson and written by Max Kronick and Patrick Barton Leahy.”
As to the big question of whether she would jump back in for another stint in Smallville, AJ ecstatically responds “Oh, absolutely, I would go back in a heartbeat. Everybody is 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 the giant tractor that just drove really well. Everybody was so good at their jobs. It was such a well-oiled machine, and I get to just get on this big tractor and just go driving it for a couple of weeks. It was so fun.”
Catch AJ’s episode of Superman & Lois when it debuts this Tuesday March 1st at 8 Eastern on The CW.