Brandon Routh

Superman Returns

Interviewed by Rob Carnevale

“ I could finally quit my job as a bartender and stop dreaming that I might be Superman ”

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Brandon Routh's star going into orbit as he takes on the coveted role of Superman in Bryan Singer's blockbuster. Prior to donning the cape, Routh was best known for television bit parts in shows like Will & Grace, but he's now winning rave reviews as The Man Of Steel.

What was your reaction when you got the call saying you had the part?

My first feeling was one of relief and happiness. It had been a seven month [casting] process for me, so when it got confirmed it was like, "finally". I could finally quit my job as a bartender and stop dreaming that I might be Superman and know that I was. Then I started thinking about how cool it was.

How did you feel when you put on the suit for the first time?

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 weightlifting in preparation, but I hadn't read the script yet and hadn't worked on the character. 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, and speak or move as him.

You incorporate elements of Christopher Reeve's performance into your own...

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 wouldn't have responded 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.

As a small-town boy yourself, what kind of kinship did you feel with Clark Kent?

It's hard to really explain it, because it's in how I was raised. There are things about growing up in a small town that you can't necessarily quantify. 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.

At one point in the film Superman is said to represent "truth, justice" but not "the American way". Why is that?

For me it speaks to the love and the greatness of Superman as an icon throughout the world. He's 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.

How are you coping with the limelight and attention?

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. 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. It makes people happy and that's a cool thing.

Do you see yourself going on in the part?

Certainly at the end of this film you see that there's much more to explore. 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 real 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.