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Schneider Talks Smallville's 100th

John Schneider—whose character of Jonathan Kent played a key role in Smallville's 100th episode, which aired Jan. 26—told SCI FI Wire that he knew what was coming, but used his mixed emotions to fuel his performance. In the episode, "Reckoning," Clark Kent (Tom Welling) watches as his father dies, fulfilling a prophecy from earlier in the season and preventing the death of Lana (Kristin Kreuk).

Schneider said in an interview that he was sorry to leave the show behind, but that he used those emotions in his final scenes with Welling. "It was very sad, which helped," Schneider said. "It really, really helped. The last scene I shot was pulling Clark out of the car when Lana had passed. ... I worked until 3:30 in the morning and it was probably 18 degrees. It was cold out there. But the last thing I did was that with Tom, which I think is very appropriate. The very last thing Jonathan Kent does in the show is tell him it's not his fault. So he's trying to protect him. The very last thing John Schneider did was pull [Clark] out of the vision of seeing Lana dead."

Schneider said that he was surprised to hear that his character would be killed off so soon this season. "[Co-creator and executive producer Al Gough] called me and said, 'Hey, John. This is a call I hate to have to make, but you kind of knew it was coming at some point,'" Schneider said in an interview at the Television Critics Association winter press tour last week. "'I said, 'Oh, I understand. When it's going to be?' I'm thinking, 'We're doing 24 shows this year. So it's going to be show 23, maybe?' No, it's show 12. And he'd called me during show nine."

From the standpoint of the story, Schneider said that he understands the need for his character to die in order for Clark to move forward toward his destiny as Superman. "It happens for great reasons," he said. "[He's] trying to live up to his father's expectations, or trying to fill the gap that was left, fill the void that was left by [the death]. The passing of Jonathan Kent in Clark Kent's life is, I think, what causes him to become Superman. Not just somebody with super powers. ... To me it was like John Wayne in The Cowboys, an empowering death, which is so important. Because if Jonathan Kent had just died, that would have been terrible. It would have been meaningless."