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S2E62: “He’s Super, Man!”


BRANDON ROUTH was fated to play SUPERMAN. As a kid, he dreamed about playing the MAN OF STEEL. When he got to LA (from Iowa) – and learned WARNER BROS planned a reboot – equal parts hustle, circumstance and luck got him not just an audition, but the role itself in SUPERMAN RETURNS. Since then, he’s donned the cape for LEGENDS OF TOMORROW and the BATWOMAN TV series. He plays another superhero – RAY PALMER/THE ATOM on CW’s ARROW. Of course, Brandon’s done lots of other things, too.

Working With Icons

Working with iconic characters is a very special creative challenge.

For one thing, it comes with a ton of responsibilities – especially if the character you’re working on is as iconic – and as multi-generationally beloved – as Superman.

There’s a reason people keep making and re-making the same super hero movies. Audiences won’t let certain characters go. Superman is nearly a century old! He’s proof that if you get a super hero right, they can endure and make you staggeringly wealthy.

But it’s easier to get super heroes wrong. And there are so many ways to get them wrong.

Batman V Superman

With Batman, there’s a lot of latitude. He’s an odd, dark character to begin with. You can cast Adam West… or Michael Keaton… or George Clooney… or Christian Bale… or Robert Pattinson. And it still works! That’s because you can play Batman as ironic or earnest or emotionally tormented.

Superman is entirely different. He epitomizes the straight and narrow. He’s a boy scout’s boy scout. Instantly and incredibly likeable. Selfless and sensitive. Virile without being alpha dog about it.

Whereas Batman’s outfit is a costume he puts on, Superman’s costume is Clark Kent. The character isn’t Clark pretending to be Superman, he’s Superman pretending to be Clark Kent. So, you’re not casting Clark, you’re casting Superman.

Casting The Man Of Steel

That makes casting really tricky because – as we’ve said here a few times – in film and TV, we really don’t hire actors to act. We hire them to “be”. Who they are. As honestly as they can.

If they act, the camera will see it and it’ll end up on the cutting room floor.

That’s why the best film actors are the ones who excel at being emotionally honest. At being who they are. On cue. For however many takes it takes.

In the case of Superman, that means you have to hire someone who’s a lot like Superman, frankly.

If he tries to act like Superman, it won’t work. Guys like Brandon Routh really don’t act the part of Superman. In a lot of surprising ways, they are it.

So, the answer to the question “How do you cast Superman?” is, you find someone super, man.

You find someone like Brandon.
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