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When Brendon Routh puts on the iconic Superman outfit, he also dons the pain-filled memories of its previous occupant, Christopher Reeve, the much admired actor who was, sadly, not a man of steel and died some years after suffering spinal cord injuries in an accident. Yet he WAS Superman to his successor, the 26 year old actor who stars in Superman Returns. Jenny Cooney Carrillo reports.

In this his latest adventure, Superman Returns, Superman (Brendon Routh) returns to the city of Metropolis after a five-year absence searching for the remains of his own planet and discovers the world needs him now more than ever before. Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has been sprung from prison and is using Supermanís own technological secrets for his personal gain and glory, with the entire planet under threat. And on a personal level, Superman and Clark Kent must also face the fact that Lois Lane has also moved on and is now engaged to someone else and has a five-year-old son.

What did you think of Christopher Reeve as Superman?
I watched his movies many times as a kid and he was my Superman, so I knew everything Christopher Reeve did and his spirit and presence was always with me throughout the making of this film.

How did you feel about his death?
Chris and Dana Reeves were both really amazing people and it is very upsetting to know they are both gone. Although I didnít get the opportunity to meet them in person I felt like Chrisí spirit and what he brought to this character really does live on in this film, which continues where he left off. Dana sent me a very nice note halfway through filming in which she gave me her blessing and she remarked on my resemblance to Chris and that she thought that was neat, that he had personified Superman so well that the next choice also reflected the same look. She also sent me two Ďgo forwardí pendants and key chains for the Chris Reeve Paralysis Foundation, of which I gave my father one that he proudly wears and so do I. It meant a lot to me that our film was so accepted by her and there was no ill will about someone else taking over the role.

How did you feel the first time you put on the Superman suit?
It was a little awkward because I was in a room full of costume designers and people who were kind of nitpicking the suit, but I never once felt awkward in the suit on the set. Itís such a great update of the original classic suit that I was really proud to be able to wear it. Itís very powerful, especially with the cape and the boots, so when I walked around in it, I felt very commanding and kingly. [Ed: There have been reports of the many hours and weeks spent debating what style and size cod-piece to make for Superman.]

What kind of challenge was it for you as an actor to become Superman?
It was a great opportunity for me because I got to not only play a superhero, but I also play his alter ego so itís two characters in one film. It was important to make a distinction between Superman and Clark and that was a lot of fun, because with Superman you get to imagine the greatness of humanity, because he is this powerful being who moves with ease and a presence that is not rushed. With Clark, he is the complete opposite because he is just excited to see everybody and be a part of life and interact because itís the only way that Superman gets to interact with people, especially with Lois Lane. So Clarkís goofiness and the awkwardness for me always came out of pure joy.

Were you a fan of Superman before the movie?
As a kid I was a huge Superman fan. Superman the movie came out the year before I was born so Superman was around all the time I was growing up and I remember watching the film when I was five or six and wearing my Superman pajamas and jumping off my parentsí living-room couch just as excited as could be. I ended up getting a migraine I was flying around so much and annoying the heck out of my mother, so for half the movie I was sick! But that feeling really traveled with me and as this became a possibility, I had the opportunity to think about what that was going to be like as an adult.

Are you prepared for the instant fame of playing Superman?
I can imagine what fame is going to be like but until all these things actually happen, you just take one step at a time. This is something different to anything Iíve ever experienced before so Iím learning from this experience and what Iíve learned here will help pay off in the future. Itís a huge experience because Superman is hugely popular but Iíve picked up information from people who have experienced fame, like Kevin Spacey, and I feel Iím prepared in some way.

Are you concerned about the Superman curse and only being known as Superman for the rest of your career?
Iíve thought about that and what a fantastic thing! To be known for as long as I am alive as Superman would be pretty amazing. Itís a great, great legacy and Iíll be able to do great things outside the film business as well because of this character so promoting that image will be very important to me.

Previous Credits: a two-year stint on the daytime soap, One Life To Live as Seth Anderson, as well as guest roles on Gilmore Girls, Will & Grace and Cold Case.

Romantic Status: The down-to-earth Iowa native has a long-time girlfriend, Courtney, an actress/filmmaker.

Published June 22, 2006

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Brandon Routh as Superman


Superman Returns Australian release: June 29, 2006

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