This fall, superhero fans will get to see Glee alum Melissa Benoist fight crime as the titular heroine of CBS’s Supergirl. As the third actress to play the Girl of Steel in live action, Benoist has the honor of playing Kara Zor-El in a leading role on the small screen for the first time. Scoring the role was a tremendous accomplishment by itself, but the hard work was only just beginning. In the lead-up to filming the pilot, the actress found herself going through an especially demanding training regimen to portray the Kryptonian.
At the Supergirl roundtable at San Diego Comic-Com, Benoist talked about she physically prepared for the role, and boxing played a key part of that. According to Benoist:
I don't think I've ever hit anyone before, and so I definitely had to learn technique – like how to actually punch someone and not hurt yourself more than you're hurting the person you're punching. And core work and Pilates and [plyometrics], a lot of it.
While the boxing was physically hard, People also notes Benoist mentioned that it benefited her mentally by filling her with motivation and drive. Superhero roles are more physically strenuous than other gigs (just ask Arrow’s Stephen Amell and The Flash’s Grant Gustin), so it was important that Benoist was in tip top shape. That said, she is playing a Kryptonian that gains tremendous powers while under Earth’s yellow sun, so Kara would still be able to lift a plane or run faster than a normal human even if she hadn’t been hitting the gym.
Of course, playing a Kryptonian is more than just heavy lifting. It’s also important to practice proper flying technique, which was also a challenging task. Benoist stated:
The wire work is really difficult, but so fun. And when you get it right, watching the result is exhilarating. It’s a really, really cool feeling to know what it felt like, the energy I had to exert to create those flying scenes. And then the way they look is really rewarding.
The actress added that she tries to do as many of her own stunts as possible, but the more dangerous ones require her to swap out with a double. Benoist’s Kara Zor-El, also known as Kara Danvers, will start out on the series keeping her powers hidden and and living a normal life, but when an unexpected disaster forces her to reveal them, she decides to follow in her famous cousin’s footsteps and use her gifts for good as Supergirl.
Supergirl will premiere on CBS Monday, October 26 at 8:30 p.m. EST before moving to its normal 8 p.m. EST timeslot on November 2.