Australian actor Michael Bishop has been checking dreams off his professional bucket list since the very beginning of his young career. Not unlike millions of other kids, Bishop grew up watching Disney Channel with his family, wondering all the while if a career in acting could possibly be in the cards. Sure enough, he soon found himself on the other side of the screen, making his American television debut on the very same network in 2021’s Spin.
For Bishop, it’s safe to assume that every young actor dreams of one day donning the cape and cowl of an iconic superhero, and he’s now secured his opportunity with the CW’s Superman & Lois. Bishop plays Jonathan Kent – better known to fans of the DC Universe as Superboy – in the show’s third season, and The Untitled Magazine had the chance to catch up with him ahead of the premiere. Below, Michael Bishop talks Superman & Lois, coming full circle on Disney Channel, and why acting is still the only thing he wants to do.
Can you tell us what life was like growing up in Gold Coast, Queensland? Do you still spend a lot of time in Australia?
The Gold Coast is a city that is beamed by the sun most days. I spent plenty of my childhood at the beach attempting to surf or paddle boarding with my pa on the lakes. My entire family lives on the coast, and even though the past couple years I haven’t spent much time home, I always find myself crawling back to that sun. My heart lives in that city.
What inspired you to become an actor?
It’s funny, I always just knew that’s what I wanted. I wouldn’t shut up as a kid, and once I joined a local theatre class, I realized there were other creative weirdos like myself. I had to find a way to do that forever.
How did you get your start in the industry? Can you share some highlights from your early acting days?
My first-ever role was TweedleDee in my local theatre production of Alice in Wonderland. I remember preteen Michael took his job very seriously at the time. This wasn’t some small little project to him, it was Broadway.
You got your break on Disney Channel in the original movie Spin. How did breaking out as a Disney star prepare you for your career after Spin?
Spin was a huge moment for me. I always watched Disney Channel as a kid with my cousins and brothers. Being able to live out my childhood Disney dream on a production of that scale made me realize that maybe, just maybe, I could really do this.
You’re gearing up for your debut as Jonathan Kent in the third season of Superman & Lois. Was playing a superhero ever on your radar before you landed the role?
I think every actor has a slight desire to wear the cape. I’ve always been interested in the heroes with human qualities, but truth be told I find the villain origin to be the really compelling story. I’d love to sink my teeth into something of that nature one day.
It’s crazy how things turn out. Four-year-old Michael dressed up as Superman for Halloween, now my dad is Superman. I think that’s pretty cool.
You stepped in for Jordan Elsass, who played Jonathan in Seasons 1 and 2. What was it like to be the new face of a role that another actor had played for two seasons? Were there any challenges to that?
Stepping into that role was really intimidating but also exciting. I had only about five days from when I booked the role to when we actually started shooting. Luckily, I was very familiar with the role; I loved the show since season one and was already a huge fan. I love John Kent, he’s such an amazing character in the comics and the show. For the show, everyone already loved Jordan so much, and I wanted to step into the role with respect for the awesome job he did. So, the goal was to work off the foundations that Jordan built while finding where I fit in with John. But overall, it was a wonderful experience.
How did you go about making the character your own?
I didn’t get a lot of time to prepare, but I felt I knew this character pretty well. I like to think that we aren’t too far from each other. I found myself mostly agreeing with his response to things, so that relatability was great to have. I know I could have accepted the role and mimicked the previous actor, but that just wasn’t true to myself. So, I used what Jordan previously built for the role more as a foundation and then moved into putting my own spin on things.
What can fans expect from Season 3? Any teasers that you can share?
I think you’re going to see Superman in some of the most frightening situations that we’ve ever seen on the show. You’ll see Lois be threatened by the evilest villain of all, which you know, may not come in the appearance of a villain but more of a cancer. That was a bit of a spoiler, but I think people are very aware of that right now. And I think you’re going to see John and Jordan grow up a little bit and, you know, experience that teen confusion of what it means to grow up alongside what it means to be a hero, both in these very distinct ways. John and Jordan are both going through a really tough time in their relationships and figuring out what it means to be a good son, brother, and friend. I think it’s a really beautiful season. It’s my favorite season so far, and that is not just because I’m in it.
How has your acting process evolved since Spin? Was your approach to Superman & Lois any different from the way you prepared for earlier roles?
Each role is different, they’re each a whole different undertaking. I mean, like for Superman and Lois, I had five days to prepare, so that in itself was a challenge. But every character comes with a different set of challenges. For Spin, I had to learn how to DJ. For John, I had to learn how to be nice. Just kidding [laughs], but I feel there’s always something different enough about them that requires a new approach.
You’re a supporter of causes like breast cancer awareness and children in the performing arts, as well as an outspoken ally to the LGBTQ+ community. What inspires your passion for these causes? How would you like to use your growing platform to be a voice for them?
I just vocalize and focus on using my platform as a way to offer support and bring awareness to the communities and causes I care about. I would hope that inspires others with platforms to use their voice as well. If I can support in any way, I will, and I think anyone with a platform like that should feel called to do something similar.
For more from Michael, follow him on Instagram.