Superman & Lois season 3 star Chad Coleman talks about bringing Bruno Mannheim into the Arrowverse. One of The CW’s remaining DC TV shows, Superman & Lois continues exploring the lives of the Lane-Kent family Clark and Lois in Smallville while new threats are already emerging.
In season 2, the character of Bruno Mannheim was name-dropped to set up the DC foe for Superman & Lois season 3, when he was revealed to be played by Coleman. The Walking Dead star gets a major focus in this week’s episode, where he and the Man of Steel come face-to-face. However, this is simply the beginning of what will be a long season arc between the DC characters. Superman & Lois marks Coleman’s second Arrowverse drama after appearing in Arrow season 5.
Screen Rant recently had the honor of chatting with Coleman about his Superman & Lois gig. Throughout the interview, Coleman spoke about how he landed the role, the social-political undertones that exist within this storyline, and why Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman is one of his favorite versions. Coleman also opened up on how Bruno isn’t a typical villain for The CW drama.
Chad Coleman About Bruno Mannheim’s Superman & Lois Season 3 Arc
Screen Rant: How did this job come about? Was it something you auditioned for, or was it something they came to you about?
Chad Coleman: Oh, they wrote the role for me. Greg Berlanti and his team wrote it for me, so it was an offer. But it was interesting how it came about because a very dear friend of mine, Evan Dexter Parke, and I always swap notes on what we auditioned for. We were hanging out, and he said, ‘Did you audition for that Superman thing?’ I was like, ‘No, I don’t know anything about any Superman thing.’
The next day, my agents called and said, ‘You have an offer from Superman & Lois.’ [I went] ‘What are you talking about? That was on a breakdown; my buddy just auditioned for it.’ ‘They were like, ‘Yeah, that wasn’t supposed to be put onto breakdowns. They wrote it for you!’ [laughs] I was like, ‘Wow!’ That’s how it happened.
You’re no stranger to comic book shows, You were on Arrow after all. When you were growing up, were you a comic book fan, or were you just a casual fan?
Chad Coleman: I don’t know if I was casual because I used to draw Iron Man. I used to really love drawing Iron Man and Spider-Man. I love Spider-Man. I love The Incredible Hulk. That was definitely a part of my world as a young kid. The Incredible Hulk was one of my favorite TV shows.
Had you been watching Superman & Lois before booking the show?
Chad Coleman: I wasn’t aware of it, but I immediately caught up. It’s so cinematic. It’s a really good show; it truly is. I liked their take on the family of Lois and Clark with the boys and Superman being a dad. [They are] just a bunch of talented actors, and I really think the show deserves even more fanfare. It’s a really good show.
In the second episode, we get to really spend time with Bruno. That office is incredible, first of all.
Chad Coleman: I never played anybody this rich and powerful before and with so many layers to him. It’s incredible, and I was blown away by the sets. I love their take on him. That’s a very rich backstory, which he wouldn’t be shy about telling Superman. exactly who he is [laughs]. Yeah, I love that. I love working with Tyler Hoechlin. He is a class act, and I think he’s a fantastic Superman. I wish they would make him Superman in the movies.
Maybe James Gunn will bring him in at some point to the DC Universe.
Chad Coleman: I hope so. He’s a great Superman which is not an easy role to play. You have to be able to say very little but do a lot with your presence subtly, and he does a great job. I really enjoyed working with him. I just wish we got to hang out a little bit more. We were all so busy, and we did have time off, but you were headed somewhere else.
You’ve said in other interviews that this is not necessarily a typical villain. This might be someone we actually root for. Bruno called Superman out a little bit, and I think this is the closest we have ever seen any villain saying, ‘You’re all about protecting the world, but you never show up in Suicide Slum.’ How much fun did you guys have shooting that, and what do you think that says about Bruno as a character?
Chad Coleman: I think he’s a committed community guy. He cares about the people, he cares about where he came from, and the condition of the people. It was very important to him to revitalize his own, recognizing they were basically treating them like an other. I liked that he called him out on the carpet for that, like ‘What have you done for us?’ That, I think had a real powerful impact. There are some social-political overtones and undertones that speak to the condition of many marginalized people today, so I love that.
Even if they don’t talk about race or skin color, it felt like this was Bruno calling Clark out on his privilege of like, ‘Who are you to decide what neighborhood gets to be safe?’
Chad Coleman: Exactly! What is the state of your service? Are you transforming lives? How are you impacting people? Yes it was very powerful and we had a wonderful time shooting it. Because you get two actors on their A-game when you want to work with someone, it’s even more thrilling. You have even more adrenaline, so it was great. I love the way they allow me to talk to him! [laughs]
He was not holding back!
Chad Coleman: No, no, he is not even really acknowledging Superman, It’s like ‘You’re just a man, and I’ll put you in your place!’ I love this, that’s so much fun.
Not a lot of Superman media has been able to tackle that before, but we live in a time now where we have more freedom to see that. Would you say that continues throughout the season, Bruno showing Superman? ‘You think me as a villain, but look what I’ve had to do for my community without your help?’
Chad Coleman: Absolutely. It’s definitely a recurring theme. It takes a lot of pride in where he’s from, and the things he was able to do for his community. That’s huge for him and says a lot about him. He’s also a family man, you will see that as well. I don’t want to give anything else away. If we talk too much about it, I’ll give things away. [laughs]
I didn’t know he would have a family, that’s interesting.
Chad Coleman: Yeah, no, he’s totally open. This man is completely about family and community, 1,000%. That’s what makes it complex. This is a very complex character, he’s a leader and he’s a formidable foe.
I think more of Bruno as an antagonist, someone to rival Superman. We know he is cooking up some things in that lab of his, but at the same time, we have the conversation from Bruno saying, ‘My entire life, I’ve been accused of things that I haven’t done.’ As a fellow person of color, I know what Bruno is saying.
Chad Coleman: Yeah, people projecting on people or projecting on you based on their own bias. It’s not fun, but he handles himself well. He’s well-spoken, a thinker, and a a chess player. It’s incredible.
You talked about Tyler being an amazing Superman, do you remember the first day he came in his suit and thinking ‘Oh my god, I get to work with Superman.’
Chad Coleman: That was incredibly exciting. He was in the harness, too because he comes down when he’s outside. I see him outside, so he had to do that. I didn’t do harness work but people did harness work on The Expanse. So I’ve seen guys in it, but to see him in the whole get-up and then in the harness, it was really cool. I was like a kid.
Bruno never once flinches, he is like ‘You come into my house, and you think you can play with me like that?’
Chad Coleman: Absolutely. Yeah. He lets him know where he stands right away and I like that.
I also know that there will be some history explored with Bruno and John Henry Irons. Without giving any spoilers, can you talk about working with him?
Chad Coleman: Yeah, no question. Wolé Parks is a class act, a fantastic actor, and a wonderful friend. We have fun on set all the time. When you’re on set and you got downtime, he’s the guy you want to have. Because he’s a great conversationalist and very intelligent and just fun to be around. He and I have worked together briefly on All American, so I knew him and I was excited that we were going to work together. I don’t want to give anything away but it’s going to be one heck of a ride, to say the least. [laughs]
Another dynamic that we get a little teaser of in this episode is Bruno and Onomatopoeia. Is that mask really there, or is that CGI? What are you engaging with when you have scenes with her?
Chad Coleman: That mask is real! That’s why it’s funny when he goes, ‘Don’t look at me like that!’ [laughs] How do you even know? [laughs] Obviously, you can read her expression, even though it was a blank face.
Onomatopoeia is Superman & Lois’ version of Chewbacca, everyone just understands anything. What can you tease about the dynamic between them because he definitely listens to her?
Chad Coleman: I can’t because it’s just too much amazingness, and I don’t want to step in it if you will. There’s a mystery to it because there’s supposed to be and all will be revealed in time.
Do you have a personal favorite episode that you really feel speaks a lot about Bruno coming in the season?
Chad Coleman: No, every episode, whether I have a lot of real estate in it or not, they have always been very precious with this character so that’s probably the least you’ll see of me of what you saw in the season three premiere. But I love the second episode coming up, it’s where you get an opportunity to establish the character so strongly over the last week when you saw his presence. You felt the mystery and the power of the man, now you get to peel back some layers on him and see who he is. It’s really incredible, but this season is stocked full of amazing stuff for me, so it’s going to be a thrill ride for sure.
Did you get to have any creative input with helping develop this character? You guys are really creating Bruno from scratch because we have never seen Bruno this much in live-action. It’s a very different take on this character.
Chad Coleman: They said, ‘Chad, bring everything that’s in your toolbox. We hired you because we know what you do. Just come and play.’ We didn’t have any creative differences and the way they saw the man is the way I saw the man on the page. So I didn’t have to do anything. The clothes, my rings, things like that and the little touches in deciding what kind of wardrobe I wanted to wear, but outside of that, no, we were just simpatico with this thing.
Bruno has very various ties to other characters in the DC Universe. Have you been looking around online at what DC fans are speculating? Because you know the moment people heard Bruno Mannheim was coming and they’re like ‘Intergang? Darkseid maybe?’
Chad Coleman: Oh yeah, absolutely! I’ve been reading a lot about it. Wolé and Tyler, I ask them for insight on certain things and talk to the showrunners so I got a strong sense of it. But at the same time, the blueprint was already there. There’s only one thing that could have switched up and we couldn’t do it because the Screen Actors Guild wouldn’t allow me to do it. I can’t say what it is but there was one thing that was going to happen this year that inevitably it couldn’t happen because the issue was with SAG.
We know Lex Luthor is coming. Did you get to work with Michael at all?
Chad Coleman: Michael Cudlitz is my guy; he is my man. I’m going to leave it at that! [laughs] Because we were on The Walking Dead together. They are going to go through the roof with his Lex Luthor for sure. He looks really cool. very menacing and that’s an incredible actor right there for sure.
You have now worked with Berlanti on this latest project. If there were an opportunity to come back on some of the other productions that he works on, is there another show of his that you would want to jump on?
Chad Coleman: Yeah, I think I saw like, he might have a procedural called Missing that’s going to be on NBC. I would love to get down with that. They were given a certain order of shows and then they pulled it so they could write more. They’re very excited about the show. So I would love to show up on Missing
Besides promoting Superman & Lois, what else are you working on that you can tease?
Chad Coleman: I’m going to get ready to do some more work on Girls5eva, which is a great Tina Fey comedy that Meredith Scardino wrote. I played the love interest of Renée Elise Goldsberry; she’s fantastic. She was on Hamilton, and she has an amazing career, and she’s on Billions as well. But I loved working with her.
I have a movie that just premiered at the SXSX film festival called The Angry Black Girl and Her monster, which is the reimagining or retelling of the Frankenstein story through the eyes of a young Black girl. It packs a powerful punch and talks about the social-political overtones, gore, and pathos. It’s an incredible film; we’re waiting to hear when the release date is. But we also got to play it at some festivals around the country. The Atlanta Film Festival will be first, April 20, through the 29th. We don’t have the screening dates yet. So I’m doing that, and then I’m developing two television shows that I’m a co-creator on, so that’s a lot of work as well.
Can you tease anything about those two shows?
Chad Coleman: No, no, I want to leave it at that for now. But I can say that one is called Imagine, and it’s about a young Black girl who’s a superhero. The other is about a character I played on The Wire called Dennis Cutty; that namesake was not the actual story. The actual story was the life of another guy named Calvin Ford, who is the trainer for the World Champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis .
I am doing his true story, being incarcerated for 30 years, coming out, and trying to be a positive force in the community and dealing with health challenges. He’s also a writer as well. So we’re going to dramatize his novel or use his writing as a way to watch the man processes life. So there’ll be flashes of him creating himself, very excited. D. Watkins, who wrote We Own This City, that’s the latest HBO deal that David Simon did, he’s going to be the lead writer for us. So these two projects are going to be really, really exciting.
I love to see good actors getting to stay busy. Chad, thank you so much for your time today. I can’t wait to see what Bruno is about to do to these characters.
Chad Coleman: I love it; this has been a lot of fun brother; I appreciate you, and we will do it again, I’m sure!
About Superman & Lois Season 3
Season three of SUPERMAN & LOIS opens weeks after Superman’s blowout defeat of Ally Allston. Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) are now working at the Smallville Gazette together and enjoying small-town life. But the Kents’ romantic bliss only shines a light on how isolating “the secret” can be, as Chrissy (Sofia Hasmik) struggles to balance a new love interest and her friendship with Lois.
However, Lois’ own work-life balance is put to the test when an undercover assignment reveals a deadly foe that promises to change the Kent family forever. Superman would move heaven and earth for his family, but with a villain this merciless, even that might not be enough. Meanwhile, the Kent boys find themselves being pulled in opposite directions as Jordan (Alex Garfin) discovers what a superhero identity really means, and Jonathan (Michael Bishop) searches for purpose beyond the football field.
Amid all this upheaval, John Henry (Wolé Parks) is haunted by his doppelgänger’s past, leading to dangerous consequences for him and Natalie (Tayler Buck). Lana Lang (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Kyle (Erik Valdez) redefine their family post-separation, while Sarah (Inde Navarrette) explores what the future holds for her and Jordan now that she knows the truth about his powers. Having learned the hard way that no one else can be trusted to work with Superman, General Samuel Lane (Dylan Walsh) reclaims his post at the Department of Defense, only to face his own conflict in working with his grandson, Jordan.
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Superman & Lois season 3 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.