As the world waits to find out who the next Superman will be, this is as good a time as any to reflect on would-be Men of Steel from years past. This semi-exclusive club notably includes Brendan Fraser, who recently earned an Oscar nomination for his critically-acclaimed performance in The Whale. Fraser isn’t a stranger to the DC Universe, having starred as Cliff Steele/Robotman on Doom Patrol and Ted Carson/Firefly in Warner Bros.’ cancelled Batgirl movie. But in the early 2000s, Fraser was one of several actors who auditioned to bring Superman into the new millennium. And while speaking with Howard Stern, the actor shared new details about missing out on what could have been the role of a lifetime.
The film, dubbed Superman: Flyby, was based on a script by J.J. Abrams, which famously leaked online in late 2002 and polarized fans with all the changes it made to the source material. Regardless, Fraser recalled during the interview that “everyone in town” screen-tested to play Clark Kent around this time. The shortlist also included big names like Paul Walker, Jude Law, and David Boreanaz, as well as Fraser’s future Doom Patrol castmate, Matt Bomer, then a virtually-unknown soap opera star. But it sounds like the grandiose nature of the character is exactly what gave Fraser doubts in the first place.
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“Of course it’s a life-changing, amazing opportunity,” said Fraser. “But I had to reconcile with, ‘Okay, say you do get the job to be the Man of Steel. It’s going to be chipped on your gravestone. Are you okay with that? You will forevermore be known as the Man of Steel.’ There was a sort of Faustian bargain that went into [the] feeling. And I think inherently I didn’t want to be known for only one thing, because I prided myself on diversity my whole professional life. I’m not a one-trick pony.”
None of the previously mentioned actors went on to play the Last Son of Krypton. Warner Bros. eventually re-tooled the project into Superman Returns, which featured Brandon Routh as the title character and took place in the same continuity as the Christopher Reeve/Richard Donner films.
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Fraser confessed that he was initially “disappointed” over missing out on the opportunity, which he blames on certain “shenanigans” and “studio politics” happening at WB. However, with hindsight being 20/20, he also acknowledged that it probably wouldn’t have been the best career move. In fact, even the film’s producers could tell that he wasn’t fully committed to the role.
“Probably inherently, in my screen test—I think that’s why you test—they could kind of see I was only there, like, 98%,” added Fraser.
Do you think Fraser would have made a good Superman? Let us know in the comment section below!
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