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Superman Returns - Brandon Routh interview

Brandon Routh in Superman Returns

Interview by Rob Carnevale

BRANDON Routh talks about taking on the iconic role of Superman in Bryan Singer’s blockbuster as well as how he’s coping with the fame it brings…

Q. Were you ever afraid of stepping into Superman’s boots or of being compared to Chrisopher Reeve?
A. I was not afraid. I was cautious and aware of the great legacy of Superman and Christopher Reeve. He was the one that made me love Superman. So I had great respect for him and for everyone that’s created Superman over the years, whether it be writers or artists. I did my best to always remember that there was this great respect that needed to be paid, which I intended to do, but also not worry about whether I was going to be good enough. That would get in the way of my performance and I needed to have all the strength and confidence that I could muster to imagine what it would like being the most powerful human being on Earth. In doing that, there is no room for fear.

Q. How did you go about making a film that respected the Richard Donner originals but which also had its own identity?
A. I think that was handled beautifully by Bryan. Without noticing, people are able to accept this film because of a lot of those nods to that universe and that feel. It’s a nice transition and a nice bridge for people to say that we’re giving respect to that which has come before us as well as doing something new. I was very grateful for that. It also gives a lot of class and history to the film which puts it in a better place.

Q. How did you feel when you put on the suit for the first time?
A. The first time was a little awkward for me, to be honest, because I felt like I was going to be judged right away. I’d done two days of weight lifting in preparation, but I hadn’t read the script yet and hadn’t worked on the character and so I felt everybody was judging me immediately – whether I was standing as the character, or speaking or moving as him. I knew from wearing it for the first time that I was happy with the suit and with the changes. It always had a kingly presence to me, so fast forward a couple of weeks after I’d continued to train and I felt much more comfortable. Then I could truly appreciate how I felt and looked in the suit. I could really see the character that I wanted to see.

Q. Was the idea of incorporating elements of Christopher Reeve’s performance something you decided to do from early on?
A. It was important to have a similar energy in my performance. To make the character too different would have just been about my ego because it didn’t need to be drastically different. Christopher Reeve did such an amazing job that to give him some kind of accent or more bravado would have been wrong. Audiences would not have appealed to that either. They had such reverence for him. I had the opportunity to fill in what we hadn’t seen before in the films in terms of giving him more emotion, more humanity, more grace, more power, more strength – all of these things. So there are some things that are similar and there are some things that are uniquely my own. It’s a nice blend of both I think.

Q. As a small-town boy yourself what kind of kinship did you feel with Clark Kent?
A. It’s hard to really explain it because it’s in my make-up and in how I was raised. There are things about growing up in a small town that you can’t necessarily qualify. But I think one thing that comes out of that, at least in America, is that it’s very quiet. You can either enjoy that as a kid or become upset that there’s nothing to do. I enjoyed that openness and that ability to ride my bike all over the place. I didn’t live on a farm but I lived about a quarter of a mile away from one, so we’d go running through the cornfields and explore the forest and stuff. Enjoying that beauty and relaxing into it was kind of a part of it. That’s definitely a part of who Superman is and definitely who Clark on the farm is. It translates to how calm he is. I feel like I’m pretty calm most of the time and relaxed, which gives presence to the character.

Q. Which for you is the more real character, Superman or Clark?
A. I’d like to think now that there’s a little bit more of both of them in my reality. I’ve certainly learned a lot of things from inhabiting Superman for so long. But to begin with I was certainly much more like Clark, a little bit more clumsy. Clark is very excited about life and he’s excited because Superman is excited that he gets to interact with people. That’s something that I always wanted to bring to Clark and that’s why he’s a little bit clumsy, especially around Lois because that’s the only time he can speak to her and be around her comfortably. Especially in this film, since she’s not real happy with Superman. It was a great joy for me to be able to play both of those characters because they’re one in the same to me. I had the opportunity to bring out Superman when Clark was around. When nobody is looking at Clark we see Superman living and breathing within him.

Q. At one point in the film Superman is said to represent “truth, justice” but not the American way. Is that just an in-joke or a reflection that the world is different now?
A. For me it speaks to the love and the greatness of Superman as an icon throughout the world – that he has surpassed America’s boundaries and become recognised all over the world as a positive icon and role model. Superman is there to unite us all I think. I’m proud of Bryan for respecting that and not making it just about us.

Q. How are you coping with the limelight and attention?
A. Fairly well, I think. I knew very early on that there would be quite a bit of attention. Superman is known all over the place, so I’ve had an opportunity to think about a lot of that and to figure out how I wanted to process it. But it’s been a great learning experience for me as an actor and as a human being just to see how people react. I’ve found the best way is to not be scared of the attention but to be grateful for it and open to it. It makes my days better rather than being annoyed that people want my attention. I’m a part of a really amazing thing and I’m very proud of that. I know that people are excited that I’m around because I represent Superman in a way, so it makes people happy and that’s a cool thing.

Q. Do you see yourself going on in the part?
A. Certainly at the end of this film you see that there’s much more to explore and I’m very excited to see where the characters and their relationships go. But in the end, it really boils down to the people who have more power than me, who control the money. But so long as we can keep this crew of fantastic people together and can continue to make really breakthrough films in this category, as well as characters that stay true to what we’ve done in this first film, I’d be more than happy to be a part of it.

Read our review

Read our interview with Bryan Singer