David Harewood

Zap2it got to speak with actor David Harewood, who plays Hank Henshaw/Martian Manhunter on the TV series, “Supergirl,” and he felt the need to give audiences a serious warning about Monday’s (Jan. 25) new episode entitled “Strange Visitor From Another Planet.”

A White Martian — a member of the alien race that wiped out J’onn J’onzz’s people — arrives in National City, kidnaps Senator Miranda Crane (Tawny Cypress), which forces Henshaw to revisit his brutal past.

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What can you tease about tonight?

Get a box of tissues and be prepared for a very rigorous examination of the ‘Jonn J’onzz backstory. We explain why (he) is the last son of Mars. We tell the story of the execution of our people and the genocide by the White Martians. And we get a glimpse of how tired he is of hiding himself and pretending he isn’t who he really is.

At one point, he wants to check out. But it’s Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) who manages to make him realize that he has a responsibility to be strong, to be honorable, and that he should be proud to be the last of his kind … and to not necessarily be melancholic — he should uphold the honor of his people

You’ve become a father figure to Kara. Is she now the one teaching you?

We begin to see a slight shift in the balance. She begins to tell J’onn about using super powers and being a superhero. J’onn has never been able to live in the open and has never had people look at him like a hero, or special. So she’s beginning to teach him about being comfortable in your skin.

He’s nervous because he knows through experience that people aren’t particularly welcoming to a 7 foot Green Martian. They are terrified by him. People are scared of him when they find out he isn’t human. So there’s a lot of fear to contend with.

Will there be flashbacks to the genocide?

Yes, we flashback to Mars and the destruction of his people. It’s really quite harrowing. It’s a brutal story. All his people burned alive. There’s no holds barred. We tell the story as brutally and graphic as we can.

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What was it like filming this episode?

Emotionally, it was very exhausting. It was around the time of the terrorist attacks in Paris, and it was really difficult to get your head in the game, very difficult to think about genocide and the fact that we continue as humans to just kill each other.

It’s tragic. It was a difficult place to put your mind that morning, and it was difficiult to even think about acting. Acting just seems so trivial. But emotionally, it allowed me to draw upon some pretty unpleasant emotions and you see those play out on the screen.

People will genuinely be surprised that a comic book tale on television, can go to such depths. We have some really solid actors and we are capable of telling some deep, emotional stories. I think people will find themselves having a tear or two. It’s pretty heart wrenching.

On a lighter note, your character has so many powers … which is your favorite?

It’s a toss up between shapeshifting and the flight. It’s just awesome to be a superhero.

Did you watch the fans reaction on Twitter when it was revealed Hank Henshaw was J’onn J’onzz?

It was funny, because I had been getting slaughtered the week before. Hank is boring. Hank is this, Hank is that … and when that episode happened, people were actually sobbing. Literally, screaming around the living room. It’s really cool and really sweet. I am proud to bring this character to life because he’s so great.

Right, and just to make sure – how many tissues are needed for tonight’s episode?

Just keep the box handy.

“Supergirl” episode airs Monday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.


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