6’5″ man-mountain Derek Mears usually serves as a stunt performer, on projects from ‘The Flash’ to ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ to ‘True Blood’ and a lot more. On occasion, he even gets to embody an actual role, like Jason Voorhees in the 2009 remake of ‘Friday the 13th’, or a Predator in ‘Predators’. But he might have found the chance to really stretch by playing the same role for several episodes at a stretch when he was cast to portray the titular plant elemental in DC Universe’s ‘Swamp Thing’. Mears would have shared the role with Andy Bean, who portrayed the human Alec Holland, who later transformed into the titular hero and supplied the voice, with Mears doing the physical performance in a rubbery practical suit.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be a limited engagement. After the first episode was released, DC Universe announced that ‘Swamp Thing’ would not carry on past its 10-episode first season. This was after the season was already reduced from 13 episodes mid-production, shocking everyone involved.
Now Mears has had the opportunity to reflect and react to this startling cancellation. Appearing on The Witching Hour podcast, he said:
“It was such a heartbreaker to find out after our first episode that we got canceled for the second season, but all we’ve heard up until that point was how amazing everything was. And everyone’s going, ‘We have a big hit on our hands. This is crazy.’ … So it’s a weird nebulous space that we’re all in now because we don’t know officially why that would happen, or why they canceled it. Even if you are going to cancel it, wouldn’t you wait until later on until to see how it plays with fans before? So, something’s going on somewhere.”
Mears also discussed the earlier decision to cut the episode count from 10 to 13.
“As opposed to having a guest star or it being on a feature, you know your full character arc, and you’re planning. With this, I’m still planning my character arc [while filming], but I don’t know the total end, because it’s still coming. It’s kind of conveyor belt of scripts where I’m shooting 1.04 while 1.05, I’m getting them soft memorized, getting prepared, and just kind of keeps coming and keeps coming, so you’re kind of speculating where your arc is going to be or where you’re going. It was so crazy. We were on [episode] 10 when we got the call, going like, ‘Yeah, so we’re getting cut to 10 from 13’, and we’re like, ‘What?!” Also reading the script for 11 going, ‘No!’…
“I was worried at first, because we had a week or so — a week or two weeks to re-do everything and execute it so it all makes sense, and I was worried, going I don’t know how we’re going to get this all together, because we’ve been laying so many beautiful puzzle pieces, and the complexity these writers are doing is just … what a gift. What an absolute gift to be able to perform with, and seeing what they did, and them get together and just work sleepless nights putting it all together, and handing out the script for the new ending, and going like, ‘Oh my god. This works. I don’t know how you guys did this. You guys are magicians. I am on board for this. I understand where it’s going and whatnot.’ I was just so happy, but I was, honestly, worried, because also knowing the sacrifices the cast and crew made to be there, and for each other.”
There seemed to have been a lot of behind the scenes turmoil involved in the cancellation of ‘Swamp Thing’, but the biggest simply appears to be that executives at Warner Brothers just didn’t like the show and didn’t want to spend any more money on it. If they had only waited before dropping the ax, they might have seen that critics and viewers love the show, with it earning a great 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. *THEY* just didn’t get it.
Mears had a lot more to say on The Witching Hour podcast. If you want to hear more, check out the video below: