The villains continue to invade National City on “Supergirl,” and on Monday (Feb. 22) audiences will be introduced to Master Jailer (Jeff Branson) in the episode titled “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”
Zap2it got to speak with Branson about this lesser-known DC Comics villain, who talked about how fun it is to shape him for the screen, his modern suit and grabbing coffee with Martian Manhunter.
Zap2it: What can you tease for us about Monday’s episode?
Jeff Branson: Supergirl is going to have a lot to think about. She might have met somebody that she doesn’t quite understand completely. Someone that she thinks is completely evil, but maybe opens her eyes to a different way of seeing the problem with the criminal aliens running around the Earth. And she’s going to be reminded of her mother, and it’s going to manipulate her a bit.
What’s the connection with Supergirl’s mother?
Master Jailer was her mother’s right-hand man at Fort Rozz. Basically, if she’s the warden, he’s the head jailer, hence the name. He was Alura’s (Laura Benanti) [trusted] man.
Had you read the comics before booking this role?
Of course. I was reading the comics back in the ’80s and the Jailer character didn’t pop up that much at the time. [Now] there’s different incarnations of the Jailer, but I was familiar with the Supergirl story.
Because he’s not as well known, did you get to make a personal mark?
Absolutely, it was much more fun for me than taking on a more popular character. This is also to the credit of Ali [Adler] and the writing team, they are not afraid to do what’s necessary. The background of Alura, comes from a different country, in a different era, it’s a different world. So now you have to modernize it, and make it relevant, and they do that really well. I think it’s brilliant.
How was the process of getting into character?
Thankfully, they put a helmet on me, so I got to avoid hair and makeup for most of the shoot. But [credit] to the wardrobe department. We’re making art here, but time is money. So, they were really thoughtful with my suit. You can’t take two hours to get into a suit. We did hours and hours a day of fittings, but after that was done, they made it come together in about six to 10 pieces. We could in and out of it in 20 to 25 minutes.
That’s amazing. Did you train before shooting?
I did as much as they would let me do. The fight scenes are bananas – they are crazy good. They’re pushing the envelope on how much you can really pull off in one episode. It’s very intense hand-to-hand combat. I very much like to do much own stuff. But when the boss taps you out, you have to respectfully take a bow, and let the other guy finish the scene.
Were you nervous coming in as the new guy on this set?
I’ve been fortunate to work enough in my life that I was excited. It wasn’t those kind of nerves. I had a really good grasp on what I wanted to do with this guy from the minute I got the appointment early in the casting process. It was around the holidays, and I had time for once to really think about think about the character, so I was ready to go.
I worked with David Harewood before, it was great to see him. Chyler [Leigh] and Melissa [Benoist] couldn’t have been more lovely. They are such, for lack of a better word, a funky cast. They are fun. Melissa would not leave set until the scene was right, and I appreciate that. It’s infectious.
You mention David … will there be a scene between Jailer and Martian Manhunter?
You’ll find out Monday night! You’ll see David and I talking, but in what way, I won’t elaborate on. But listen, I was fan of David beforehand, so any time the Jailer and Martian Manhunter want to sit down and grab coffee, I’m down.
Will Jailer be around after Monday’s episode?
He could be. I don’t know. We’ll have to see. If Supergirl is smart, she’s going to take his head off, but you never know what’s going to happen.
“Supergirl” airs on Monday nights at 8 p.m. PT/ET on CBS.