10 Things You Didn’t Know About Christopher Reeve’s Superman

Including: how Richard Donner made a fool of Gene Hackman on-set.

The late, great Christopher Reeve remains one of the most iconic performers in the history of comic book movies. His portrayal of Superman/Kal-El/Clark in Richard Donner€™s Superman: The Movie helped launch the superhero cinematic subgenre and cemented Reeve as a talent that generations of film fans could enjoy. For many, Reeve remains the Superman, with Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill paling in comparison to his magnetic portrayal of DC Comics€™ flagship superhero.

It wasn€™t an easy route to global adoration for Reeve, though. He faced stiff competition for the role and a collection of troubles on set. He also had to power through as the franchise that launched his career later suffered reduced budgets and dreadful reviews, when Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace came along and did their best to ruin what Reeve and Donner had started.

From these worrisome woes to some more positive points, here are ten things that you may not know about Christopher Reeve€™s Superman€

10. Reeve Beat Al Pacino And Elton John (And A Dentist To The Role)

When casting began for Richard Donner€™s 1978 feature Superman: The Movie, there was no clear favourite for the role of Superman. Allegedly, 200 actors competed for the role before Christopher Reeve ended up nabbing the part. Among them, apparently, were some true Hollywood A-listers.

The producers - Ilya Salkind, Alexander Salkind and Pierre Spengler €“ clearly didn€™t have a particular physical type in mind. They auditioned muscle-bound talent like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mohammad Ali, as well as more svelte actors like Al Pacino and Robert Redford. Charles Bronson, Dustin Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Nick Nolte, Steve McQueen, Sly Stallone and Jeff Bridges were also among the stars that auditioned for the role.

One name stands out from the list of auditioning actors, though €“ pop star Elton John, who is said to have tested for the part. The Rocket Man singer wanted to become Superman, as unbelievable as that may seem today. But, thankfully for Reeve, the Salkinds were also open to auditioning unknowns (Ilya Salkind€™s dentist January don Voyne even came in and read for the part).

Despite all these stars and dental practitioners vying for attention, Reeve caught the eye of the producers despite only having three brief TV roles and a small part in Gray Lady Down on his CV at the time. They asked him back repeatedly before eventually giving him the role.


Film & TV journo. Quite tall.