Kristin Kreuk, who spent seven seasons playing Lana Lang on "Smallville," returns to TV on Thursday night in another series about an attractive woman and a man of mystery who fights for right.

The big difference in this show, the latest incarnation of "Beauty and the Beast," is Kreuk's character will be in the middle of the fights.

Kreuk plays hard-nosed homicide detective Catherine Chandler, who meets science-experiment-gone-bad Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan) during an investigation. Keller keeps to the shadows because of a very beastly side that can emerge. Although Vincent's been watching over Catherine for years, she does OK taking care of herself.

"I don't often get that kind of role, although I get to do it periodically, which is a lot of fun for me. They are both alphas, very dominant individuals who want to feel like they can control matters so bad things don't happen in their lives," Kreuk says. "This is in many ways a partnership. Sometimes she will have to help him and at times, he'll help her.

"In this case, there isn't an underlying assumption that a man needs to save a woman. It's not about being like a man but about being a woman and being as fully that as possible."

The new series brings Kreuk back to the fairy tale world; her first professional acting job was starring in the TV movie "Snow White" in 2001. The 29-year-old actress has since starred in a variety of productions, from the Canadian series "Edgemont" to the miniseries "Ben Hur."

Kreuk has already played very physical characters in the films "Streetfighter: The Legend of Chun Li" and "Vampire." Most of her training to play Catherine was time spent with police officers so her performance looked real.

The series fits perfectly with the kinds of books, TV shows and films that have always appealed to her.

"I really do value morality and the exploration of morality. When you look at something like 'Beauty and the Beast,' thematically, it's beautiful. What we are trying to say is so gorgeous -- that people are beyond what they look like," Kreuk says. "With all of the versions of 'Beauty and the Beast,' it's not just that we are beyond what we look like, it's that there's a human being underneath all these things. There are all these layers that we put up and there's a soul that exists and it takes time to get there.

"This show is about two people trying to discover that with each other and within themselves."

The show is a reboot of the '80s drama that starred Linda Hamilton as Catherine. Kreuk says she's only seen a couple of episodes of the show because when it originally aired, her family didn't own a TV set.

On hearing about the new series, Hamilton sent Kreuk and Ryan a signed photo expressing her support.

"It's in my trailer," Kreuk says. "It feels really cool to have her know about what we're doing and wishing us well. It's rad."

'beauty and the beast'

When: 9 p.m. Thursdays
Where:
The CW