He’s been that presence lurking in the shadows all season long in Supergirl. He’s been talked about, feared and we’ve even seen his warsuit. Lex Luthor has pretty much become the Lord Voldemort of the show - and we like it!
Season 1 of Supergirl gave us the watered-down version of Lex in the form of Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli), who did a decent job playing a power hungry businessman/scientist, but he just never had the gravitas and appeal of LL.
This season the Luthor clan have arrived, with Lex’s mother Lillian Luthor (Brenda Strong) showing up and causing trouble as the leader of Project Cadmus, while his sister Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) has taken over the reins of Luthor Corp. It’s only a matter of time before the supervillain himself gets out of jail and makes an appearance in National City.
Having already speculated who could don Batman’s cowl, we line up quality picks to bring Lex’s villainy to the small screen. What’s our criteria? Well, we know he’s thirtysomething based on Lillian’s age. Outside of that, our group of actors would realistically appear on the show in a guest star capacity. Here are 15 Actors Who Could Play Lex Luthor on Supergirl!
15 JACK KESY
The name Jack Kesy may not ring any bells, and you’re probably drawing blanks on his face. Well, that’s because Jack is usually wearing prosthetics and heavy makeup as a blood sucking vampire on FX’s The Strain. During his three-year stint on the show, Kesy played rock and roll superstar Gabriel Bolivar, turned vampire, turned finally into The Master. Besides having the shaved head thing going for him, Kesy got to play several personalities, demonstrating that he can handle a complicated villain.
The anonymity that Jack has could be a very appealing factor for the producers and the network, as their track record shows they go with fresh faces for key roles in their DC Universe (e.g. Stephen Amell/Green Arrow). Jack also has history with Katie McGrath having starred together in the feature The Throwaways.
Coming off The Strain playing a bold and dangerous bad guy, Jack’s prepared to bring a new version of Lex Luthor to the small screen. Physically he looks the part (standing at 6’1”) but more than that, he’s a performer that could make Luthor an entertaining yet twisted billionaire, hell-bent on making life miserable for Supergirl and her cousin.
14 MICHAEL ROSENBAUM
The elephant in the room is also the fantasy pick for many fans. For seven seasons, Michael Rosenbaum played the young version of Lex on Smallville, arguably giving viewers the best TV incarnation of the character. In a career defining role, Rosenbaum excelled, winning praise from both critics and fans alike, crafting a layered Lex that was both friend and foe to Clark Kent.
At 44, Michael’s past the age range desired for Supergirl’s version of Lex, but looking younger than his age, that wouldn’t be a drastic hurdle to overcome with some Hollywood magic. At this point, Michael is a DC lifer having not only played Lex, but also been the voice for Wally West/The Flash in the beloved Justice League/ Justice League Unlimited animated series. Getting another crack to play Lex in the Arrowverse would allow Michael to experiment with the role, giving it different shades of menace he couldn’t before.
Getting The CW to bring back Michael into the fold is a bit of a pipe dream. They went with a new Clark/Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and chances are the network will do the same with Lex. But some fans are holding out hope and in a limited role, you never know.
13 JUSTIN RANDELL BROOKE
Every race has an underdog and Justin Randell Brooke is that for us here. We’ve already mentioned how team Berlanti/CW likes to go with relatively unknowns to fill roles. Look at any of the Arrowverse shows and you’ll find talented actors that got their big break via their respective shows. While being the most “green” option on this list, Justin is slowly amassing quality roles in TV and film that will eventually place him in a position to breakout. We’re betting that if the Lex Luthor opportunity comes along, it’ll make him as popular as Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin with the Con crowds.
The promising actor has already landed supporting roles in AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, and well-reviewed features like The Founder and The Birth of a Nation. Looking at Justin, you can’t help but see a resemblance to the amazing Andrew Scott, otherwise known as everyone’s favorite Sherlock antagonist, Moriarty. If Justin is half as compelling as Scott is in that role, he’ll be able to grow into the Luthor role and really be that criminal mastermind/mad scientist that fans have come to enjoy from the comics.
12 CHRISTOPHER GORHAM
Lex Luthor may not come to mind when looking at Christopher Gorham, but if he shaved his head, the actor would look surprisingly similar to the comic book villain. He’s got that great jawline, icy cold stare, and looks good in a suit making it easy to believe that he could run a Fortune 500 company while being a megalomaniac.
Gorham is the type of actor you’ve seen in countless shows over the years. A familiar face whose name escapes you. From Felicity, to Jake 2.0, Harper’s Island, Ugly Betty and Covert Affairs, Christopher has pretty much covered the spectrum of roles one can have on TV. He’s even been the Wizard of Oz in Once Upon a Time. Recently he’s come into the DC fold, providing the voice of Barry Allen/The Flash in three animated movies: Justice League: War, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis and Justice League vs. Teen Titans.
While he has a solid resume, Chris has yet to land that defining role, allowing him to get away from the sidekick tag he’s usually stuck with. With his natural charm, Gorham can create a likeable Lex even when he’s trying to bring down Supergirl and her friends.
11 ANDREW J. WEST
Playing Gareth, leader of Terminus on The Walking Dead, Andrew J. West got to showcase his wicked side. His cordial, articulate demeanor hid a cunning and ruthless man, drawing parallels to Luthor. Lex may not be a cannibal but he won’t hesitate to spill blood or sacrifice people in order to accomplish an end goal.
Looking past his zombie credentials, West is a steady TV actor having worked on shows like Greek and Under the Dome. He’s 33 years old but has a boyish face which could help or hurt his chances to play Lex, depending how the writers approach the character. A bonus for him is that he looks like a member of the Luthor family Greg Berlanti has assembled. One can easily see Andrew’s version of Lex relying on his mother, something we haven’t see in any other incarnation of the character.
Lillian and Lex (and possibly Lena) could end up being a true evil family faction, with all being on equal footing. Riffing on the Norman and Norma Bates dynamic would be an interesting approach on how to make Lex work for Supergirl. Because an evil genius can do so much more with a mother’s support!
10 ALFIE ALLEN
The sad and compelling journey of Reek aka Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, has been one of the better character arcs in television recently. Playing an emasculated and frail character isn’t an easy task but the talented Alfie Allen brings so many layers to the role, that you hate and feel sympathy for him at the same time. There’s no question that Allen has the acting chops to bring a refreshing take to a modern day Lex Luthor. At 30-years-old, Alfie’s one of the younger candidates on this list but that youthful energy, mixed in with an unhinged and destructive approach he’s capable of, would make Lex shine on the small screen.
When he’s not busy trying to stay alive in Game of Thrones, Allen’s picked up small interesting roles in films like John Wick and Pandemic, typically getting cast as the slimy, underhanded bad guy. Some fans might have reservations that Allen’s Lex might end somewhere in the Jesse Eisenberg space. We’re confident however that getting to play a character the complete opposite of Theon would enable Allen to create a powerful and unnerving Luthor that hasn’t been seen thus far.
9 JENSEN ACKLES
Staying within The CW family, Jensen Ackles is an interesting choice to be the famous DC baddie. We know that he’s currently playing Dean Winchester on the long running and popular Supernatural, but getting him to appear a few times on Supergirl is highly doable. Not only do both shows film out of Vancouver, British Columbia, but the network is known for sharing talent from different shows in order to drum up fan and press interest.
Would Jensen be interested in playing Lex? We think that’s a big YES! He’s played Dean for so long, that he’s probably itching to stretch those acting wings and play someone totally different. Luthor is just that opportunity, allowing him to jump into an iconic villain with a rich history. We’re living in the golden age of comic book TV and film properties and next to The Joker, there’s no bigger or better known villain in the DC Universe than Lex Luthor.
Just Like Michael Rosenbaum, Ackles has DC ties, having been a regular on Smallville and providing the voice of the Red Hood/Jason Todd in the animated, Batman: Under The Red Hood. With his commitments to Supernatural, Jensen probably can’t go bald but he could tweak his appearance.
8 MATTHEW MORRISON
We get it. This might be a bit of a head-scratcher to some. Looking at Matthew Morrison there’s probably no correlation between him and Lex that comes to mind. However, if you take a closer look, you’ll see signs of Matthew being a realistic option once the time comes for Lex to make his debut. Glee has been a farm system of talent for Greg Berlanti and The CW. Both Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin are Glee alums, and Darren Criss is set to appear as Music Meister later this season in the musical crossover event. Seeing Melissa going up against her former teacher in Morrison, would be an added bonus for fans of both shows!
After Glee ended in 2015, Morrison’s kept busy by performing on the stage (putting that musical background to use) and has a recurring role on The Good Wife. Going from the optimistic Will Schuester to playing the dangerous Lex Luthor would definitely be a different change of pace for the actor. With that photogenic smile, Matthew’s good guy persona could be a great cover for a manipulative, evil con man, making his Lex, a captivating narcissist.
7 JAMES D’ARCY
Since Marvel TV is no longer using him as Edwin Jarvis - butler and all around Swiss army knife to Howard Stark - then DC could enlist his services to join the Arrowverse.
English actor James D’Arcy really built his Comic Con cred with the role of Jarvis on Marvel's Agent Carter. That prim and proper character however, gives no indication of what is needed to bring life to an evil person like a Lex Luthor. Thankfully James has a versatile filmography playing criminals, killers and just downright nasty people. From shows like Broadchurch, to features like Cloud Atlas and Rise: Blood Hunter, James naturally excels in complex and darker parts. He’s the level of actor that hops back and forth from TV and film, bringing credibility to the roles he inhabits. As a psycho killer in the film In Their Skin, he tormented a family going from calm and charismatic one moment, to extremely violent the next. That type of performance would work well in giving Lex a malevolence that other actors have failed to deliver.
Even though he joins Michael Rosenbaum in being in their forties, a clean cut and sharp dressed James could age down and play alongside Katie McGrath (Lena) as her nefarious big brother.
6 ZACHARY LEVI
Multi-talented and super geek Zachary Levi, could easily slide into the cast of Supergirl as Lex. He and Katie McGrath (Lena) look like siblings, he’s the right age (36), has that CW pretty-boy thing going for him and is a true comic book fan (creator of The Nerd Machine). He checks off many headings off our list!
Best known for his role as Chuck Bartowski on the spy series Chuck, Levi has built himself a varied filmography, appearing in big budget features like Thor: The Dark World, to starring in genre friendly TV shows like Heroes Reborn. He’s even earned the Disney badge by providing the voice of Flynn Rider in Tangled.
We know some of you might complain that Zach isn’t intimidating enough but that’s the beauty of Lex Luthor. Lex isn’t going to scare you with his muscles or strength. No, his mind is his evil power and all of the plans and evil schemes he comes up with - no matter who falls victim - is what makes the character scary. We’re confident that Zach could really shine as Lex, threatening Supergirl, Superman and the rest of the CW heroes.
5 ROSS MARQUAND
Since Michael Rosenbaum stopped playing Lex on Smallville, fans have been waiting for the next great incarnation of the villain. The DCEU has their Lex in the form of Jesse Eisenberg, which many people are split on. Having Eisenberg’s version stray from the traditional Lex we all know is a golden opportunity for The CW. The network can bring the classic Superman archenemy to their Universe, having him be the biggest challenge any of their characters have ever faced.
Finding an actor that can portray being a business magnate and gifted scientist while at the same time being a ruthless criminal mastermind, is a tricky thing. Thankfully Ross Marquand is a human chameleon with the skills to do the job. Like Andrew J. West before him, Ross is currently trying to stay alive on The Walking Dead. Playing Aaron, he’s grown into being a key member of the team and fan favorite with viewers. One thing that many people may not know about Marquand is that he’s a master impersonator. He’s appeared on Conan doing a wicked Christopher Walken, and also did those great AT&T commercials appearing as Matthew McConaughey’s “Rust” character from True Detective.
Ross looks like a movie star from the ‘1950s and ‘1960s. Physically he fits the role of Lex, almost passing off as a hybrid of Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey.
4 MARK O’BRIEN
Subdued yet strong is the best way to describe Mark O’Brien. Mark’s the type of actor that doesn’t need to be loud or over-the-top to convey an emotion or point. Just with his facial expressions he can tell so much about what his character is feeling in a particular moment.
The 32-year-old actor has been a working TV actor but appeared in his first big Hollywood feature with the Arrival. We became fans of Mark for his role of Tom Rendon on AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire. The supporting role isn't flashy but Mark has a certain presence in every scene he's in. Another fresh face option, Mark would be convincing as a calculated and manipulative version of LL, playing off Lilian and Lena in order to defeat the Super cousins standing in his family’s way.
If Lex arrives on Supergirl, his appearances will be in a guest star capacity, so you want to have an actor like Mark that can really make an impression in the limited time he’s there. He can give audiences a young yet experienced Lex, that has done battle with Superman before and from those mistakes, is better prepared to defeat Supergirl.
3 IWAN RHEON
How can you not love this idea? Ramsay Bolton merging into Lex Luthor would not only give the DEO nightmares but it’d keep fans up at night. Ramsay is arguably the most despised and hated character ever in Game of Thrones and that isn’t an easy thing to accomplish considering the other candidates. Iwan Rheon’s portrayal of the evil and sadistic Bolton established a new level of villainy on TV, showing audiences what an evildoer is capable of and the disgusting lengths they will go to gain power.
Since his stint on GOT has ended, the talented Rheon is free to tackle his next juicy role and playing Lex Luthor would be tempting. At 31, the Welsh actor is just the right type of cerebral talent that can deliver the intensity and evil brilliance that Luthor displays in the comics. With that impish grin, Rheon intimidates and scares with just his presence, not needing an imposing physical build. Having him go toe-to-toe against Supergirl, Superman or any of the other heroes, you believe that even though he has no super powers, he poses a serious threat to them and can create a great deal of damage. It would be a big coup for the network if they can wrangle Iwan for the role.
2 ED SKREIN
Skrein is just one of those cool actors you wish you were based on the fun he seems to be having in all of the movies/shows he’s in.
Fanboys/girls best know him as the villain Ajax in the blockbuster hit Deadpool, while others might also know him as the first Darrio Naharis in Game of Thrones. He even took a stab playing Frank Martin in The Transporter series with The Transporter Refueled. Based on his rapid trajectory to fame, Ed is the biggest reach on this list because all signs point to him being a movie star, with roles in projects like the upcoming Alita: Battle Angel. Exuding charm, swagger and a playful wickedness, he’d be homerun choice as Lex Luthor for any platform.
Many will be surprised to learn that before going the acting route, Skrein was a rapper, releasing a couple of albums. Even though there’s no musical skills necessary for the role of Mr. Luthor, that jack-of-all-trades knack is what makes Skrein such as an enticing pick. His profile and talent would not only give the show a level of villain they’ve never seen before but it might also take a superhero team-up to bring him down, say over the course of a crossover event?
1 THOMAS SADOSKI
Could Lex Luthor on Supergirl have hair? Sure, based on the flashbacks we’ve seen of Lex as a boy, he does. He’s also had hair in the comics, on Lois & Clark (with John Shea’s full locks) and in the movies the character continuously dons wigs.
Bald or not, Thomas Sadoski is an amazing underrated actor that could truly make the role of Lex Luthor his own. The closest thing to a universally loved version of LL has been Clancy Brown voicing the role on Superman: The Animated Series and subsequent Justice League animated series. Not only does Thomas have the talent to match Clancy’s Lex but he can also give us a live-action version that is morally depraved, vengeful yet enjoyable at the same time.
Sadoski really turned heads as Don Keefer on The Newsroom. That role opened doors for him with features like Wild and John Wick/John Wick: Chapter 2. Currently you can find him on NBC’s Life in Pieces, which makes it tricky for him to appear on Supergirl, since he’s on another network. Looking past those details, it’s easy to imagine a scene with Sadoski standing off against Melissa Benoist, Tyler Hoechlin or Grant Gustin, in a battle for the fate of the multiverse.