Brandon Routh ('Superman Returns')
'Still Flyin' High!'
Brandon James Routh (born October 9, 1979) is an American actor, pure and simple. He grew up in Iowa, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, subsequently appearing on several television series throughout the early 2000s.
In 2004, he was cast in the title and lead role of Superman in the 2006 film, 'Superman Returns.'
The strapping 6' 2½" actor was a high school athlete who swam and played soccer, as well as starring in several theatrical productions. Routh got his first major role on a 1999 episode of the short-lived ABC sitcom "Odd Man Out," followed by a four-episode stint on the third season of MTV's sexually charged nighttime soap "Undressed" in 2000. He also was featured in pop star Christina Aguilera's heavily rotated "What a Girl Wants" video.
Along with an appearance on "Gilmore Girls" in 200, the actor earned steady work on the ABC daytime drama "One Life to Live," originating the role of Seth Anderson from 2001-2002. His subsequent primetime credits include guest stints on the CBS crime drama "Cold Case," the hit NBC sitcom "Will & Grace" and Fox's brief-lived "Oliver Beene."
Prior to Routh's casting as Superman, Warner Bros. had spent over a decade developing a plan to relaunch the franchise, with possible stars including name actors Nicolas Cage (who had at one point signed on to the role), Josh Hartnett, Brendan Fraser, Paul Walker, James Marsden, Ashton Kutcher and Smallville star Tom Welling, and planned directors including Tim Burton, Wolfgang Petersen, McG, Brett Ratner and Shekhar Kapur. When director Bryan Singer came aboard the project, however, he insisted that an unknown actor be cast in the part, in the tradition of the casting of the best-known film Superman, Christopher Reeve.
Chatting one on one with the quietly unassuming actor, I first wondered how he felt about playing such an iconic character and if he had felt slightly reluctant in taking on the mantel of the late, great Christopher Reeve? "Not reluctant at all. It was a great mantel to be able to take on really, an amazing legacy. And you know to finally see it, because I just saw the final product yesterday as well, is really amazing to be part of something like this. And the spirit of Superman is great to have around. I'm really excited to be a part of it and sharing the legacy, any documentary I look up at the sky and Kevin Burns did and Bryan did and showed me again you know the history that's in this character and you know."
Were you there every step of the way because the original was about 2:55 or something, as he trimmed it down were you a little disappointed at all that they cut down the Krypton opening? "I was at first but I mean I thought at first that I wanted a little bit of that in there but the reasoning behind what they cut and what they kept really makes sense and it really played for me when I saw it yesterday, it all worked and was understood. Sometimes when you make a script you want it to be all these amazing things and you realise that sometimes it's too much and there are so many things that it dilutes the main theme of the film. So I think it was to Bryan's credit that he was able to let go of some of those things because you create these scenes and you think you become creative, even I, acting things, you become very creatively taken by it. You want to keep it in there because you feel like it's yours but to be able to see that sometimes some stuff needs to go and I think it's for the benefit of the film. People were going to see it though on the DVD."
What were the particular challenges to do the movie and to play the character, physically and emotionally? "Well physically preparing for the role, definitely and then continuing to stay physically fit throughout filming, getting up, 4.00 4.30 in the morning."
Were you not fit?! "No, I was, certainly not as much as I became."
So no Australian beer for you while you were filming? "Every once in a while but not very often you know, I had to stay fit."
What did you do? "I did rope yoga - which is a process that's kind of like a mix between Pilates and yoga - that my trainer Goodnea designed actually and that was to help me in the wires. To be able to be flexible, to endure the long hours and keep streamlined position and all these things, created a very strong abdomen, core section, all that core-based training. And also it was a process as we lifted weights as well in an effort to train my body to then be able to lift heavier weights when I got in Australia. So that was the first couple of months. And then once in Australia, I really hit the weights hard."
So you're 6'3". What did you weigh when you were Superman? "220, 218 at my heaviest."
And what do you weigh now? "211, 212."
So not that much of a difference. "Not too much but I'm barely, I'm lifting a little to stay fit but it's nowhere near the sheer amount."
For the sequel right?! "If we do another one, I'll certainly be back in the gym before that!"
Have they told you to set aside September 2007?!"They've not told me any time. I'm the last to know!"
Actors talk a lot about how acting in this craft, you're constantly learning. What did you take away from the experience on this film and specifically what have you taken away from Bryan Singer? "Wow, I've taken a lot of things. I mean I knew patience was important but just being able to be open and to be open to all the possibilities of what's going to be out there and creatively to listen to people it's very important because I think I have my own way and I'm very certain in my way but to be able to listen to what Bryan has to say, or anybody has a piece of information it's very helpful because you know this is a hugely collaborative process for us all to create things together and you know I'm very open to that now and from Bryan, just being able, it's kind of a similar thing being able to change on the whim when the shock wasn't working for us to be able to, for him to be able to you know completely alter something because it wasn't working, even though he'd created an automatic to do it one way and all this stuff. He was just like, "OK, well, let's do something else", and as an actor, being able to do that, has paid dividends for me too because I really do become stuck in how I think it's going to happen because I practice it, I rehearse it one way and then to go, "Oh, well what about this way?", it opens up a whole new level of exploration."
Are you prepared for what's going to happen to your career as a result of this movie? Are you prepared for the post-Superman, the whole personal life, and the paparazzi? "Well I think so. As I said before, I'm prepared to be prepared and I think that remains the same, you know there's no way to really know what it's going to feel like. I think for each individual it's different."
Was there anything that you wanted to bring to the character that you don't think has been there before? "Yeah, you know that has to do with the script. I mean it allowed me to do that which was fantastic because we really get to see the character mature and deal with some things that are, that I think as an audience member, really pull us in. I think Superman's journey is to become comfortable on earth. Of course he's got his role as earth's greatest protector but he also wants to be as happy as he can and if that happens to be with Lois then he's going to find a way. It might not be easy but he'll do you know that's the journey, so it was great to be able to play that. Other than that, I think one thing is with flying we wanted to make it as graceful as possible. Of course, easier with the CGI element but there are many shots that are really, really me in, great stuff I'm really proud of so we wanted to make that as graceful as possible and just the movement of the character being very regal and have a great sense of power when moving which is the difference between Superman and Clark as well."
What's next for you professionally? "Well, I'm Superman, just not action. I'm kind of looking for something with a lot less action and more talking and listening. I also have a film that's premiering Vegas Film Festival, short film, directed by Joel Kelly, it's called Denial and it's a story, short film, 35 mm short film and it's about a man's struggle to choose between the woman of his dreams and his reality, so it's definitely different than Superman. So I'm really proud of that."
There's a remarkable amount of silence in the film where the characters - you're allowed to watch the characters just react. Was that a big challenge for you? "Yes and especially when flying because then I have an element of physicality happening while doing that. One of the most amazing things I got from the film, so much green screen, there are so many moments and it really taught me about how important it is to have an intention when flying, when going somewhere and having an intention. Every time I'm moving, what am I doing, what am I going to save, how do I feel about that, rather than just going and having a blank stare because there's so much story, Superman's a man of few words, there's so much that needs to be conveyed through just the image of my face on screen."
Is there one sequence in the movie that you loved doing that really made you appreciate what you were doing? "Well there are many and I don't know if I can talk about all them still even yet. You guys have seen them, but there are some heart-felt moments, you know, on Krypton and everything that happens there, you know, testing the limits of Superman's you know even though we know he's Earth's greatest protector, he really has to prove it so those are some powerful moments for me and finding that within myself and being able to display that and kind of live that for those scenes was really fantastic."
Are you a comic guy, are you a fan boy yourself? "I am, of comics I was never as big of a fan as I probably could have been I suppose but I'm definitely a fan of science fiction fantasy. My interests were in fantasy more than comics growing up."
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