Brandon Routh for “Superman Returns”

Brandon Routh seems the perfect successor to the late Chris Reeve, assuming the actor’s formidable mantel as the new Man of Steel. Born October 9, 1979, in Des Moines, Iowa and raised in nearby Norwalk (about 100 miles south of Woolstock, the hometown of TV’s original “Superman,” George Reeves), the strapping 6′ 2 ½ ” actor-known to his friends and family and sometimes professionally credited as “B.J.”-was a high school athlete who swam and played soccer, as well as starring in several theatrical productions. He attended the University of Iowa for a year before heading to Hollywood in search of his big break.

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 Nicolas Cage and planned helmers including Tim Burton, Wolfgang Peterson, McG and Brett Ratner. Initially the studio reportedly considered a roster of name actors for the iconic role, including Josh Hartnett, Ashton Kutcher, Jude Law, Brendan Fraser, Jim Caviezel and “Smallville” star Tom Welling. But when Singer came aboard to direct the film, he insisted that a fresh face be cast in the part in the tradition of film’s most famous Man of Steel, Christopher Reeve.

Routh, then 25–who reportedly won a Hollywood Halloween costume contest in 2003 by dressing as Clark Kent with his shirt open to reveal the Superman “S” underneath-had previously auditioned for McG and was tapped by Singer after extensive casting calls in the U.S., Britain, Canada and Australia. Impressed by his resemblance to the comic book icon and finding the actor’s humble Midwestern roots a perfect fit for the hero’s all-American persona, Singer anointed Routh as the next screen Superman. Within hours of the October 2004 casting announcement Routh’s name filled an endless array of Internet pages devoted to discussing his worthiness for the role. For his part, the actor kept a low profile to help build anticipation for the film. Curious movie audiences got a pre-“Superman Returns” introduction to Routh with his small supporting role in the low-budget thriller “Deadly” (2005), starring Laura Prepon and Misha Collins as a couple of real-life Canadian thrill-killers.

An assuming charmer, Routh talked Superman and would-be stardom, to Paul Fischer.

Question: So how do you feel about playing such an iconic character and how kind of reluctant were you to take on the mantel of Christopher Reeve I guess.

Routh: 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.

Question: 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?

Routh: 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.

Question: What were the particular challenges to do the movie and to play the character, physically and emotionally?

Routh: 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.

Question: Were you not fit?

Routh: No, I was, certainly not as much as I became.

Question: So no Australian beer for you while you were filming?

Routh: Every once in a while but not very often you know, I had to stay fit.

Question: What did you do?

Routh: For the film yes. I did here in Los Angeles, my first trainer 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 ropes, excuse 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 of, 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.

Question: So you’re 6’3″. What did you weigh when you were Superman?

Routh: 220, 218 at my heaviest.

Question: And what do you weigh now?

Routh: 211, 212.

Question: So not that much of a difference.

Routh: Not too much but I’m barely, I’m lifting a little to stay fit but it’s nowhere near the sheer amount.

Question: For the sequel right, you’re doing a sequel too right?

Routh: If we do another one, I’ll certainly be back in the gym before that.

Question: Have they told you to set aside September 2007?

Routh: They’ve not told me any time. I’m the last to know.

Question: 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?

Routh: 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.

Question: 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?

Routh: 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 and

Question: Well maybe no one will go.

Routh: Well no, I think we won’t have that problem but as far as paparazzi I’m speaking, I will deal with that.

Question: How do you prepare for something like that? Do you get advice from like Kate Bosworth for example?

Routh: Just you know being again being open to it. If I become defensive and upset right away, then that’s going to adversely affect how I deal with it and it’s probably not going to be good press for me and probably be bad just because I’m angry. Just be open and pleasant.

Question: Think of all those Superman headlines that they’ll be able to come up with.

Routh: But as far as, for I think it will be amazing you know where I find myself years from now because of this film. It’s just amazing, I think everybody’s going to kind of know this film and because of it, me. So I you know it’s crazy.

Question: Was there anything that you wanted to bring to the character that you don’t think has been there before? There’s a lot of vulnerability on screen I thought that looked really good…

Routh: 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.

Question: What’s next for you professionally? Are you going to be able to, are you looking for things that are as un-Superman-like as you can before doing another Superman movie or are you just taking your time?

Routh: 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.

Question: But after that you don’t know what you’re doing, I take it.

Routh: this has opened up a lot of doors, I’ve met with a lot of people and very soon I’m going to …

Question: Make a choice, make a decision.

Routh: Make a choice, yeah.

Question: 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?

Routh: 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.

Question: Is there one sequence in the movie that you loved doing that really made you appreciate what you were doing?

Routh: 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.

Question: Are you a comic guy, are you a fan boy yourself?

Routh: 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.

Question: So books.

Routh: Books, yeah, games, that kind of thing.

Question: Is there a fantasy thing you’d like to play? I mean, is there a fantasy, a movie?

Routh: There are many things, I’m sure at some time there’ll be some element of that.