‘Supergirl’ Star Laura Benanti Teases Playing ‘Badass Evil Twin Sister’

“She’s definitely a darker figure,” actress tells TheWrap of her villainous turn on CBS series

When CBS’ “Supergirl” first introduced Laura Benanti on screen, it was as Alura, the loving, deceased mother of Melissa Benoist‘s Kara Zor-El. But by the end of the series premiere, a different character had emerged wearing her face, someone much darker and more dangerous.

“When [EP Greg Berlanti] called, he said, ‘I want you to play the mom, but the mom also has an evil twin sister and it’s going to be really badass and fun,’ and I said, ‘Yes please,’” the actress told TheWrap.

In Monday’s all-new episode, fans may finally get a taste of what that evil twin, Astra, is really up to. Below, Benanti discusses the tone of the show, why her character may not be all bad, and how she, Benoist and co-star Jeremy Jordan plan to utilize their musical-theater chops.

How did you get involved with “Supergirl”?
I had worked with Greg Berlanti on a show called “Eli Stone,” and he called me and offered me these roles.

So you knew right away you were playing both Kara’s mother and her evil twin sister?
Yes. That’s what really drew me to it. It was pretty simple.

What percentage of the time do you spend playing the mother, Alura, vs. the villain, Astra?
Right now, I’ve been spending more time playing the villain. The mother, we really only see in flashback or hologram. So the most recent episodes we’ve shot, I’ve been playing Astra more.

What can you tell us about what you’re up to in Monday’s episode?
It’s tricky, I want to be very careful. All I can say is that Astra believes very strongly that she knows how to save Earth and the people of Earth. And the way she wants to go about doing it is certainly unconventional, and probably definitely makes her look like a villain.

Interesting that you say it makes her look like a villain. Could she actually be a good guy?
All of us have light and dark in us, and that is something that the show explores in a way I really admire. It’s not just mustache-twirling villains and angelic good guys. What’s ultimately very human about this superhuman show is that there’s layers to everyone. No one is just one thing.

Have you mostly been filming on the Krypton set or will we see you on Earth?
You’ll see me on Earth as well.

The show is obviously pretty light and hopeful. Do you think that tone is going to stay at that level or will it eventually get darker?
Some episodes will be that way, and then depending on what villain she’s fighting, it will get darker. I don’t think every single episode is going to remain the same, which I love.

What sort of tone does Astra bring?
She’s definitely a darker figure. Alura was a light, hopeful, loving person. Astra brings a lot of destruction and anger with her.

You won a Tony for the 2008 musical revival “Gypsy.” And Melissa and Jeremy have sung on shows like “Glee” and “Smash.” When are we going to get a musical episode? It would be a waste not to, right?
We’ve been joking about it. Maybe we’ll do an online one! We’ve been talking about it. Melissa is pretty busy right now. She’s got a lot on her plate, but if she gets some downtime, that’s definitely something we’ve been talking about.

“Supergirl” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.