A Spotlight on Aaron Smolinski
Superman movie fans all over the world fondly remember young Aaron Smolinski’s charming, heart-warming performance as baby Superman in the Smallville scenes in Superman-The Movie, and as the boy at the photo booth who surprises Superman in Superman III.
I first met Aaron on May 1, 2001, when he made a surprise appearance at Dave’s Video in Los Angeles where Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz were signing autographs to celebrate the release of the Superman-The Movie Special Edition DVD and other Superman movie DVD sets. Before Dick and Tom arrived, I fondly remember this young man walking up to me and asking, “Do you know when Richard Donner is supposed to get here?” I had no idea who this young man was until he showed me some behind-the-scenes photos of baby Superman holding up the Kent truck from Superman-The Movie. In my astonishment, I asked him, “Where did you get those??”, and he said, “That’s me!”. “Aaron Smolinski?!”, I asked. Aaron smiled and we shook hands. I immediately encouraged him to sit with Dick and Tom and sign autographs because I knew the fans would be thrilled to meet him. Well, that’s what happened. What a treat to see the surprise on Dick Donner’s face when Aaron greeted him for the first time as an adult since filming in Canada as a three-year-old in August 1977. Aaron was all smiles that afternoon. It was a really fun experience for everyone present at this very special gathering. One of the photos below shows Aaron and me pretending to hold up the Kent truck.
On December 15, 2010, I invited Aaron and his wife, Lauren, to join Sallie and me at the Beverly Hills Taschen book store for the Los Angeles launch party of the 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking book by Paul Levitz (CapedWonder™.com made photos contributions to the book). It was wonderful seeing Aaron again since the Superman-The Movie Special Edition DVD signing in 2001. We had a great time talking about anything and everything, including some very interesting and “revealing” books in the store (WOW! You wouldn’t believe some of the photo books!). Aaron signed autographs and posed for press photos with Paul and many other comic writers including Marv Wolfman. Even Stan Lee made a surprise appearance to congratulate Paul on his SUPER impressive and massive book. Here’s a YouTube video from the party (I’m in the red NASCAR Superman jacket with my camera taking photos of Batman).
CapedWonder™.com is thrilled to host a recent interview with Aaron by Superfan Jason Thomas, as well as many exclusive (and fantastic) photos from the Smolinski family personal archives. A HUGE “Thank You” goes out to Aaron and Jason for your friendship, and for sharing this great material and information with CapedWonder™ fans.
Also featured here are photos from my the CapedWonder™Collection, including ones I created especially for Aaron to make convention prints for autographing. And last, but certainly not least, Aaron and Lauren give us a glimpse into their personal life today through their amazing stories about their two children and being loving parents, as you will read on the website and see in the videos below.
Aaron’s Family Today
Here is a message from Aaron regarding the video below that he has entitled, ‘Baby Superman has a Supergirl of his own’ :
“Let people know that they will be able to see more of “Addyson’s Journey” coming in September . This link is just a sample, and it is about a Micro Preemie diaper that was created for the NICUs (not for sale). This is an educational piece, and not a commercial for a diaper. Thanks.”
And here is a feature story on the Beechnut website about parenting, starring the Smolinski family before they had had their second child, Addyson:
CapedWonder™.com and its fanbase would like to wish the Smolinski family much joy, happiness and fulfillment together for many, many years. Thanks again Aaron!
An Exclusive Interview for CapedWonder™.com by Jason Thomas
Jason: How did you get involved with Superman-The Movie? At the age of three, do you think you realized you were portraying a young Superman?
Aaron: They had a major casting (cattle call) and my aunt heard about it on the radio. She called my mom and said get the kids ready and take them there. We went and stood in line, and the rest as they say, is history. I can’t remember, but I don’t think at that age I had any idea on what or who I was playing. I just thought it was fun.
Jason: What set you apart from the other kids trying out for the part (how did you get the role)?
Aaron: How it worked was that my brother (six at the time) resembled Chris Reeve at that age, so they picked him and I looked like my brother and Chris at 3. I was actually selected as the second choice. During filming, the first choice wasn’t really….cooperative I guess I could say….and I would do whatever they wanted (almost), so they used me.
Jason: Was your hair naturally that dark or did they dye it?
Aaron: Oh they dyed it…and I didn’t like it one bit…cried ‘cause it got in my eyes. I had blonde hair (almost white).
Jason: Were you or your brother involved in acting prior to becoming the young Clark Kent?
Aaron: This was the first thing that both of us did. I continued, and after Superman III, my brother had had enough.
Jason: Did you spend a lot of time on the set or interacting with Phyllis Thaxter or Glenn Ford?
Aaron: I spent some time, mostly in between takes and with Ms. Thaxter. She was sweet.
Jason: You sure appeared to have a great chemistry with Phyllis Thaxter. Was that hug scripted?
Aaron: She was (from what I remember) a very caring lady. That hug was not scripted; I just liked her and felt like hugging her.
Jason: I understand there were several photos taken of you and other boys portraying Clark Kent growing up over the years. What insight can you give us about them and their omission from the film?
Aaron: One of the boys (the older one) was my brother. The other ones were the other choices for Baby Clark. I was second choice. The one I replaced was cooperative, and the other one just got unlucky ‘cause I worked well. My brother’s part just got edited. He was also cut out of Superman III as well which is probably why he never continued…Hahaha..
Jason: Were you ever teased about being nude in your first scene, and do you have any regrets? Did it take any convincing to get you to bare all?
Aaron: By the time I was in school, I had also appeared in numerous commercials, so kids were jealous and teased me about everything including being naked. I still get teased about it today. Kids are kids and will always tease no matter what. I never let it bother me too much. Just kinda gets old. Now I just tell people, “I was three, but h-ng like a six year old.” I definitely have no regrets, except about not having a better contract. There was some convincing to bare all. I ended up bargaining with them. They first offered me a snow globe, that didn’t quite work. I asked for Coke, they gave me a six pack, then I finally requested Juicy Fruit. Once that was in my hands, my clothes came off.
Jason: From the Making of Superman-The Movie book, author David Petrou says, “Aaron was enchanting, coming out of the starship nude-as Dick finally decided- arms outstretched and a big grin on his face. It was a poignant moment; the intended allusion to Moses wasn’t lost on any of us. I just wondered how the poor kid would live it down. I could imagine him twelve or fourteen years from now, at a local movie theater showing a re-release of an old movie entitled ‘Superman’, and his date screaming, ‘Oooo, Aaron! Is that really you?!?’ much to his chagrin.”. Did this experience or anything similar ever happen to you? Did you attend any premieres of Superman-The Movie or Superman III, or even just go see them in theaters and enjoy them as a member of the audience?
Aaron: This never happened. I don’t think, or at least can’t remember, seeing it on the big screen. Friends did play jokes on me at parties, where they would call me into a room and everyone would be in there looking at that scene. My girlfriend at the time said ‘oh how things have changed…”
Jason: What other coaching and special treatment did Richard Donner and the producers have to make to get you to perform your scenes?
Aaron: Other than the naked scene, there wasn’t any coaching needed. I was quite willing to do whatever they asked and even didn’t ask of me. Richard was great. He treated me like his own and made sure I was warm. I remember him holding me in a blanket and showing me his trailer. I remember getting to talk into his walkie talkie, which I loved. He was and is a very caring person…not to mention a fantastic director.
Jason: There are some very nice photos of you bonding with Richard Donner during filming. Do you recall having a friendship with him? Have you talked to him in the years since?
Aaron: I have spoken with him a couple of times since. I saw him at a signing, and he was very helpful to me in attaining a Visa when I booked a pilot in LA. Once again, a great, kind man.
Jason: Were you able to see Glenn Ford or Phyllis Thaxter in the years following?
Aaron: No, unfortunately.
Jason: What, if any, other celebrities have you met over the years and what has been their response been to meeting you?
Aaron: Well I have met a number of different ones; too many to name. In regards to Superman, most of them are “oh, that’s cool”. Shaq was quite taken aback as he is a huge (literally and figuratively) Superman fan.
Jason: What is your favorite movie or TV show?
Aaron: My favorite movie, if I had to pick one, is Good Will Hunting. Don’t really have a favorite TV show (really enjoyed Prison Break and now Flash Forward). Having a two year old, we don’t get a chance to go to the movies that often.
Jason: Had you continue acting as a child prior to or after your cameo in Superman III? If so, what roles or commercials were you in?
Aaron: Yes I continued acting and was in numerous commercials, movies and TV shows up until 2008 and am still pursuing.
Jason: What were some of the benefits of being a child actor? Were there any negatives to the experience of being a child actor?
Aaron: Getting out of school was always a plus. Free stuff I also liked. Having a nice savings account when I got older came in handy too. As a child actor, you get teased by the kids in school because they are just jealous, but as long as you are aware of why they are teasing you, it makes it easier to handle and deal with. I was always able to talk my way out of situations and turn people around. Kind of a “supertalker”, if you will.
Jason: How did you get the role of the boy by the photo booth in Superman III?
Aaron: They called my agent and requested me. I was the go to kid in Calgary at the time. Not bragging or anything, but that is the answer.
Jason: Who portrayed your mother in that scene?
Aaron: My mom was actually my mother in that scene. As a matter of fact my whole family was in it. My brother’s scene was deleted and my dad was one of the citizens helping rescue the driver when they ran over the fire hydrant.
Jason: Did you get to keep the ripped photo that Christopher Reeve handed you, or any other memorabilia from your involvement in the Superman films?
Aaron: I still have the ripped photo from the booth. I have memorabilia from the movies. I still have the snow globe that was used to bribe me to come out of the capsule.
Jason: Did you get to spend time with Christopher Reeve? Were you the envy of all your classmates?
Aaron: I did spend lunch with him. He was very caring and friendly. I have great memories of him. My first memory is meeting him for the first time on III and shaking his hand and I remember how mine disappeared into his. I was amazed at how big he was. Mind you I was eight.
Jason: Do you ever watch the Superman films? Do you have a favorite? Are you a Superman fan?
Aaron: Periodically. Superman I of course…
Jason: I understand you have a young son. Have you shown him Superman and do you think he’ll show an interest in the movies, cartoons or comics?
Aaron: I have shown it to him. Not sure what his interest will be. Fun to see.
Jason: Will you consider getting your son involved in TV or movies as a child actor?
Aaron: He goes on auditions now. He actually will be on the package of a baby product and we are currently doing a documentary for Pampers.com. If he wants to be in it great, if not, that is cool too. I will not push him to do anything.
Jason: In the years following your involvement in the Superman movies, what are some of your other film and TV roles? What was your favorite?
Aaron: I really enjoyed working on Lonesome Dove. I learned a lot on that set. My favorite role was probably in a TV movie called Someone to Love Me. I played a nice guy that turned out to be a really bad guy. I also enjoyed my two Hockey movies, simply because I was getting paid to play hockey.
Jason: What was your least favorite role in your career, and do you have any regrets?
Aaron: No regrets.
Jason: How did you become a stand-in for the Lonesome Dove TV series? Do you enjoy riding horses and is it something you still pursue?
Aaron: I went on an audition. It was kinda like how I got Superman. I had an incredible resemblance to the star (Scott Bairstow). During the height of the show’s popularity, I was always confused for him. I can’t tell you how many times I was stopped on the street and asked for an autograph. Came in handy sometimes too…LOL…
Jason: How did you get involved in gymnastics and what brought you back to acting?
Aaron: My mom wanted to put me in Jazz and my dad was having none of it, so they compromised. I loved it. Something I will definitely put my kids in. I was always in acting during gymnastics.
Jason: According to your Bio you studied Child Psychology at the University of Calgary. Did you complete the program? Did you work in the field? Is it helping you in raising your son?
Aaron: Never completed it because I got the job on Lonesome Dove. It helps me with my son as well as adults too.
Jason: How do you like living in Los Angeles, and how does it differ from living in Calgary or Vancouver?
Aaron: I am a firm believer that you make situations what they are. I am a positive person and find the good in everything. There are good and bad aspects to LA, but you can’t beat the weather.
Jason: I doubt anyone recognizes you in the streets as the young Kal El, but are you ever stopped by fans from your other roles?
Aaron: I have been stopped for other roles. I remember after a TV called Outrage came out, the other guys in the movie and I were walking on Melrose Ave. in LA and someone yelled out, “There are the rapists!” You can imagine the looks we got, until they came over and saved us by asking for our autographs.
Jason: What is the response to fans seeing you at conventions? Do you have any experiences you could share?
Aaron: Fans are fantastic. It is such an amazing feeling to know that I was able to provide some joy to people and now they are providing it to me. Without fans “Celebrities” ( I hate that word) would not exist. It is the fans that pay for their salaries. Be it sports, music, etc. I wish more “Celebrities” would realize that. I remember one person at the Hollywood Show in Burbank last year who had a mug from Burger King from 1980 with me on it. That was pretty cool. Another fan also had an original lunch box with me on that i had never seen before; also very cool.
Jason: What would be your dream acting job? If you could work with any actor or actress who would it be and why?
Aaron: I really want a role that shows a tough inner struggle. Matt Damon’s role in Good Will Hunting was very inspirational to me and put me on a different personal path. I would love to do a movie with Matt Damon and tell him how grateful I am for that.
Jason: What would you say is your favorite genre of film?
Aaron: I guess my favorite genre would be Drama. I think dramatic roles can do so many good things for people and is often underrated as a way to help/Inspire people.
Jason: Can you tell us some of your current projects or plans for the future?
Aaron: I am currently trying to get a movie a friend of mine wrote produced. It has been about 10 years since he wrote it and I have always liked the story. Still waiting for the call from Matt Damon
This interview is © Copyright 2010 by Jason Thomas and CapedWonder™.com, and is not to be reproduced or excerpted without written permission.