PARK CITY, Utah — Before he could fly, Clark Kent only leapt tall buildings in a single bound.
Likewise "little by little, piece by piece" Kristin Kreuk is putting distance between herself and Lana Lang, the girl next door she played for seven seasons on the Superman prequel, Smallville.
"All these little things add up at some point," she says. "And I love doing the smaller roles because they're usually interesting, and I'm not on set every day."
The smaller role in question is her extended cameo in the Canadian co-production Vampire, a weird, atmospheric variation on the familiar blood-thirsty tropes. Vampire is in this year's world cinema dramatic competition at Sundance.
"I don't imagine this will be a huge movie. It's very uncomfortable to watch," Kreuk says. "I only had a day, and it was an interesting director and it was at home and I got to do something I don't get to do very often."
Being home, it turns out, is especially important for the 28-year-old, who has so far avoided moving from Vancouver to Los Angeles.
"I love it (in Vancouver). LA's hard for me. I think I was 18 when I first went to LA when I was testing for Smallville, and I was like, 'I hate it here.' And now I don't. I like it. But I don't love it enough to want to live there. But I think it's probably valuable for me to start spending more time there."
Still, Kreuk, who left Smallville after her contract expired, clearly has a defiant streak. When I call her a rebel, she smiles. "I am, a little bit. I don't seem like a rebel, but I am."
Befitting that, her next role is in Ecstasy, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting). "Ecstasy will be more mainstream (than Vampire), but it still deals with drugs and drug use and drug smuggling. It's Irvine. He's brilliant and I love the guy, but he's had a crazy life."
CLASH OF THE MUPPETS:
Red carpet, so why not a red monster?
Elmo, joined by his puppeteer Kevin Clash, showed up a long way from Sesame Street for the Sundance premiere of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey.
Directed by Constance Marks, the documentary explores not only Clash's life, but the history of Jim Henson's iconic creations and their enduring power to delight children. As well as, frankly, adults.
Clash explains he agreed to be the subject of the film to reveal "the art under the camera … A lot of times I get a title 'the voice of Elmo' and I'm not a voiceover person, I'm a performer and working with Jim, he looked at the voice as being secondary.
"We started with creating a character and then from out of that, the voice comes."
What Being Elmo also underscores is the critical role Clash's parents had in nurturing his interest in puppetry from an early age.
"They encouraged their kids. Because they were very creative and imaginative themselves so they could connect with it. I had some friends parents who said, 'Puppetry? How you're going to make money or support anybody with that?' Other parents saw it as a hobby, not a career."
Times, though, have changed since Clash was a child, growing up watching Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch and Ernie and Bert. "You can major in (puppetry) in different colleges now. And that's not just now, it's been that way for awhile."
And although he's a fan of computer animation — citing Pixar's The Incredibles as a favourite — the man behind Elmo also wanted "to show the audience the difference. To go out amongst a crowd of kids, holding a character they love, and get that immediacy of love, you can't do that with (animation)."
INDIE SALES ARE UP:
Being Elmo isn't all that's putting smiles on faces at Sundance 2011.
So is the fact that after two sluggish years, the independent film market appears to be rebounding. Movies are again finding distributors, and the consensus is that this year's line-up is strong. Never mind all the Oscar nominations for 2010 Sundance entries (including The Kids Are All Right and Winter's Bone).
Among the movies that have found a home in the past week: Margin Call, I Melt With You, The Devil's Double, Like Crazy and My Idiot Brother.
CANADIAN SHORT DAM IMPRESSIVE:
They came for the hobo, but got a campfire story. Festival-goers who attended the premiere of Hobo with a Shotgun first saw The Legend of Beaver Dam from Montreal's Jerome Sable.
The 12-minute short is a horror musical about a nerd trying to defeat the creature of a campfire ghost story.
Sundance jurors recognized it with an honourable mention in the International Short Filmmaking competition.