'Smallville': Justin Hartley reveals Oliver's past, plus his future with Chloe

justin-hartley-smallville-3.gif"Smallville" is back.

After more than two months off the air, Clark Kent and the whole crew will finally return to your TVs Friday night (Jan. 29) for an all-new episode.

The hour -- titled "Disciple" -- is Oliver-centric, so we hunted down the man behind O (and Green Arrow), Mr. Justin Hartley.

He filled us in on this week's big reveals, next week's "Absolute Justice" event and which lucky lady he might be cozying up with next...


In this week's episode, the Dark Archer pops up to stir some trouble for Oliver, and shed some light on his past. Is this information that will be new to everyone?
It's [information] that's going to help explain why Oliver went through some of the things that he went through, where he was, where he spent a lot of time before he came to Metropolis and why he's programmed the way he is and thinks the way he does.

So, what's the deal?
Basically, there's this secret underground society that he was a part of and they're coming back to claim what's rightfully theirs, or what they think is rightfully theirs. Oliver is being put in a position where it's like, look, things are different, I've changed, I don't want to be part of that life anymore. But these guys are saying that really doesn't matter, it's part of the code, it doesn't matter what you want, it's the way of life. So it's a struggle.

With some questions about his past getting cleared up, do you think Oliver might be a bit happier in the second half of the season? The first half was rather rough on him.
Yeah, he's happier. He's back to his fun-loving self, but at the same time, without totally losing sight of what he went through. So even though he's "back" to the Oliver that everyone's familiar with, after everything he went through -- the suicide attempt, hitting rock bottom -- he has changed a little bit, maybe grown up a little bit with a darker side to him. But he's definitely back to enjoying life and having fun.

Can we assume we'll be seeing that darker -- or at least more serious -- side of him in the two-hour "Absolute Justice" event?
Yeah, he's basically trying to help Clark and Chloe figure out who are these people that keep coming after the Justice Society and killing them off. There's a bit of "whodunit" going on, which is fun, a little bit of a procedural drama going on, all these problems [that have to be solved]. They kind of stumble upon problem after problem after problem and get deeper and deeper into it and they realize the whole thing is bigger than they ever thought it would be. And in fact, they're even at risk. So Oliver is along for the ride to help Clark and Chloe and everybody is kind of in danger and it leads to this huge climax [that affects] the rest of the season.

Tom Welling (Clark) directed the second hour of the event. How is it to be directed by him?
It's great. I think it's the third or fourth time that I've been directed by him, so it's like old hat for us now. He goes in, he knows his stuff. He's got a really good eye for it, so you can believe in him. You know, it's funny because there's actually a nice [bonus] to having him direct because the [regular] directors come in and they do a really great job, but they don't have the benefit of being here every day. He does. There's not a lot of people who would know the show better than [Tom], so he has that going for him too.

Would you have any desire to direct an episode of "Smallville"?
Yeah, totally. I'm totally interested in directing and we'll see what happens. I think it's a long process of figuring [things] out -- You have to get approval from a bunch of people -- But yeah, I'm interested, absolutely. Whether it be directing "Smallville" or something else, sure. "Smallville" would be a good place to start, because if you do something wrong, there's all these people around you who can rather quickly tell you if you're going in the wrong direction.

Looking toward the rest of the season, we know that Clark and Oliver have differing views of how to properly handle Zod. Will that be a big issue for them?
There's a bit of conflict and then I think, interestingly enough, as opposed to last year,  Oliver has learned from what happened. And so maybe he disagrees with Clark, but instead of just disagreeing and going about his own way, he'll listen to the other side of the story. It's what normal people do, you look into both sides of the story. But in the past, Oliver didn't always do that.

Oliver is growing up.
Yeah, well, he'll always be a little kid.

We have to talk about Oliver's love life, because the fans have very strong feelings on the subject. From what we've been hearing, most fans are rooting for an Oliver/Chloe hookup, so what's going on with those two?
They're hanging out, they're doing their thing. I don't know if it's your typical "Smallville" relationship or typical TV couple, but it's clearly a relationship. I just don't know how involved they are with commitment level. But they're definitely hanging out and working together and I'm working with [Allison Mack (Chloe)] quite often. So if that's what people want, they'll definitely get their dose.

But Oliver really does get around quite a bit.
He's gotten all of them. If you put five random women from around the world in a room, he's slept with 3 or 4 of them.

He gets more action than Superman!
Yeah, so it's only a matter of time before he moves in on [Chloe], right? We'll see what happens. The way they're writing it is they're having fun together and they're able to kind of see each other for who they are and they don't have to pretend to be anybody else to satisfy the other person and expectations are low. But we've all been in relationships like that, too, where you say, no expectations and then boom, ultimately what it leads to is a barrage of expectations that end up being overwhelming. We'll see what happens. I'm sure it'll make for good drama.

Especially since she is the cousin of Lois, the girl Oliver rather recently declared his love to, only to have her turn him down for Clark, who Chloe was in love with.
Yeah, it's a bit incestuous isn't it? [Laughs] You'd think that they could go outside the city limits to find a mate, but that doesn't happen on TV that often, does it?

What do you think? 

Chloe and Oliver?

Or are you more interested in how much butt he can kick?

-Reporting by Marisa Roffman

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Photo credit: The CW