Facing the prospect of a week off from playing Machiavellian tycoon Lionel Luthor on The WB's Thursday-night hit "Smallville," John Glover could have gone golfing, taken a quick trip to Hawaii or just kicked back with a good book.
"I had the best time," Glover says. "I had that episode [of 'Smallville'] off, and they called about it. I read the script. For five years, I've not played anybody else on film. I go do plays every hiatus, but I just jumped at the chance to be another person."
In "Mind Games," Los Angeles-based FBI Special Agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) and his team (Alimi Ballard, Diane Farr, Dylan Bruno) are called in when a search team finds three dead women in a wilderness area. The case takes a strange turn when Don discovers that Samuel Kraft (Glover), a psychic who had once worked for the CIA, led the search.
When Kraft offers to help the FBI with the case, Don goes along, but brother Charlie (David Krumholtz), a university mathematician who consults on Don's cases, objects strenuously, claiming psychic abilities are bogus. Unexpectedly, this brings Charlie into conflict with his colleague, astrophysicist Larry (Peter MacNicol), who allows for the possibility that Kraft's abilities may be real.
"They worked on that a lot," says Glover. "It was interesting. Everybody was very juiced when we were doing it. I hope it turns out good. I think it will."
One other incentive for Glover to do the episode was director Peter Markle. "I'd worked with him a couple of times," he says, "maybe 14 years ago, on a couple of movies. It was nice.
"There's a scene with Peter and David where they're in Peter's house and they're having that argument [about psychic abilities], sitting on either ends of the room. It was written very differently. Peter got them to improvise that, so what is filmed is basically the script, the ideas of the script, but he's got that kind of improvisatory rawness.
"I had a scene after that, so I watched him working on that. It was so interesting to watch him work."
There's another scene where Charlie, believing he's caught Kraft faking his powers, confronts him at the FBI offices.
"We had the best time together," Glover says. "I just think he's magnificent. He's such an actor. He's funny, but at the same time, he's so dedicated to what he does. I was truck with him, as a person and as an actor."
Glover has a bit of a different look in the episode. He still has Lionel Luthor's curly mane of hair and beard, but he added a samurai-style ponytail and glasses. According to Glover, the script called for reading glasses, but that didn't work for him.
"I knew that there was something that, if I was unfocused in my literal physical vision, I could see more psychically. That's why I wanted the glasses to be real glasses. He had to unfocus what his eyes saw to see more with his metaphysical self."
Kraft works by drawing his visions. Glover admits the scenes of him sketching were a bit of movie magic. "They had an artist come in. I was standing over his shoulder while he was doing it, and my mouth was hanging open. It was like a stream of consciousness, the way he drew."
Glover would be happy to come back to "Numb3rs" if the producers chose, especially if that meant more scenes between Kraft and Charlie.
"I'd love it," he says. "We've already got that relationship started. It would be interesting."
In the meantime, Glover is back on the "Smallville" sets in Vancouver, as Lionel pursues a long-unrequited crush on the now-widowed Martha Kent (Annette O'Toole), who's taken over as a Kansas state senator from her late husband, Jonathan (John Schneider).
"Lionel's been in love with Martha for a long time," he says. "This has been coming for a while. They teased with us last year, then it never came to fruition. Annette and I are tickled pink, because we love to play with each other."
Jonathan, the adoptive dad of future Superman Clark Kent (Tom Welling), died in the 100th episode, which has pushed Martha -- and O'Toole -- into the forefront.
"She's been very patient for four years," Glover says. "So happy, I think, to be out of the kitchen."
Glover also hasn't had time to miss Schneider, since apparently he's making return guest appearances.
"He's here today, actually," Glover says. "There's a nice twist to who he is in this episode. He's made a couple appearances. There was some Krypton-ese thing where he comes back. This is his second appearance after that."
After all, death is seldom an impediment to future TV guest appearances.
Glover adds, "Especially on 'Smallville.'"