Known for playing the role of Superman in the Bryan Singer directed "Superman Returns" back in 2006, Brandon Routh has been embraced by comic-book fans everywhere. After donning the iconic cape and tights, Routh went on to roles in other comic-book based movies (Dylan Dog, Scott Pilgrim versus The World) and even had a role on a TV sitcom directed by a television legend.
Brandon Routh will be a featured guest of the Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con which runs from August 8-11 at the Donald E Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. (Click HERE for more info and tickets.)
Mr. Routh spoke with me via telephone prior to his trip to Chicago. We discussed attending comic-conventions; what comes with playing the role of Superman; is he ever challenged to duels as an "evil ex"; using social media; and his passion for community service:
(The following is the unedited transcript of the interview with Brandon Routh that ran in REDEYE on Thursday, August 8th, 2013.)
Geek To Me: You’re coming to Chicago for the Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con, and you have that history of having played Superman, so let me ask what the experience is like for you attending a convention like Wizard World?
Brandon Routh: It’s a very cool thing to be embraced by the fan that loved that movie and some other projects I have done. You know, you forget about it after a while. It’s been seven or eight years now, and I have fond memories of the movie, but I don’t think of it in my daily life. But it’s still nice that it’s still entertaining people, who are showing it to their kids, and it’s hopefully making (the world) a little bit of a happier place. I hear that directly from them when I get to meet them at the cons.
G2M: More recently you did play a role in the Edgar Wright film “Scott Pilgrim versus The World” and I’m wondering if you've ever had someone challenging you to a fight as an “evil ex”, you know, just as a lark?
BR: (laughs) I haven’t had any challenges yet. I often get asked to quote lines from that movie, but no challenges fighting or bass duels yet.
G2M: You also did "Dylan Dog", another comic-book based movie. I’m just curious if after doing "Dylan Dog", "Scott Pilgrim" and "Superman Returns", do you feel like you still want to do comic-based movies or you feel like you’ve had enough and want to move onto other things?
BR: No, there are so many different properties, so many different genres within the genre, of the graphic novel and the comic book world. So, I actually would entertain doing some other type of film in this world. I’ve got an awesome fan base, and allowed to kind of play in that world, I guess, so it’s fun to live in that world. Although I don’t read a lot of comics, I do love sci-fi and fantasy stuff, so it’s a world that I like to explore myself. If it’s the right part, and the right movie, the right people, absolutely I’d have no problem with that.
G2M: How did it feel for you seeing somebody else wearing the Superman costume?
BR: (laughs) It’s interesting, you know? Thankfully it’s been - I’ve had a lot of time - seven years out of the suit I guess. I had my time and it was great. Although I haven’t seen the film, it seems like Henry (Cavill) has done a nice job. He certainly looks the part. Another thing I guess that makes it easier is that the suit doesn’t really look like my suit (laughs). And that made it a little easier to distance myself from it I guess.
G2M: You recently did a bit with Tim Daly - who was once the voice of Superman in the animated series - along with Dean Cain, kind of like a “reunion of Supermen.” (SEE VIDEO ABOVE) How did that come about?
BR: Well, Sam Daly - Tim’s son - Dean and I all play in a celebrity basketball league. So we all know each other through that. And Tim and Sam had started the show (The Daly Show) along with Ben Shelton the director, that they’d been doing for a couple years. They tweeted something, their motto for the show, something like they’re “trying to make the world a little less douche.” And they tweeted something about Superman being a little less douche could be awesome. And I’d seen some of the show and I said “we should do a show together.” Then Ben Shelton came up with the awesome League of Supermen contest.
G2M: Beyond that, do you find that there are any cool perks that come from having been one of the few actors who have played Superman?
BR: I get awesome jokes. (laughs) I can share a lot of awesome jokes. I think I get a lot of respect in certain fields, you know like with service men and women, who respect Superman. Not that everyone doesn’t. It’s particularly kind of cool meeting people who’ve lived in military service or police, firefighters and stuff like that. And on planes I get a lot of respect, a lot of attention. Because (they go) “oh we’ve got Superman on board so I guess we’ll be okay.” Stuff like that.
G2M: (laughs) Yeah, but whenever Superman is on a plane, the plane tends to be in trouble, so I don’t know if I’d be that relieved you were on board.
BR: Yeah, I try to warn them that I don’t really know how to do all those things the guy in tights does.
G2M: Moving on from that, you had a run on “Chuck” for a while. Do you stay in touch with the cast?
BR: Not so much. I haven’t seen them for a while. But I know they’re doing good things. I do know Zach (Levi) a little bit outside the show, but I’ve been so busy with the birth of my child, who now is almost a year old (laughs) but now it’s hard to keep track of anybody but my wife and my kid these days.
G2M: You had a show called “Partners” on CBS, that had several episodes directed by James Burrows, who is one of the most respected directors in television and in film. How has working under James Burrows helped you refine your craft as an actor? How has it helped you with your comedic chops?
BR: It’s great, the show is actually defunct, they cancelled us back in November but it was a great experience. James Burrows directed every episode that we did, the thirteen episodes that we shot. What I got from him was he’s very direct. Comedy works when you don’t think about it too much, where you just do it. And so that was kind of a lot of his encouragement sometimes. If he saw us taking too much time, thinking too much, doing the actor process of thinking about what’s happening, sometimes humor can be lost. Just that impulse makes things funny, so that’s one of the biggest things I learned from him.
G2M: Finally, one last Superman question: so many comparisons are made between you and Christopher Reeve. How much of your performance was influenced by Reeve and how much if it was really you in there?
BR: Well, it’s hard to judge how much of it in there was the same as Chris, for one because his performance left indelible images in my mind about who Superman is. Because he was my Superman growing up and I watched the first two films countless times. So that’s hard to judge. There was a certain amount of similarity that needed to be in the film, that I was directed to have in the film, since we were doing kind of a loose sequel to the two (Richard) Donner films. You know, I think Chris’ energy is what I brought. I think Clark was a little bit different, a little less bumbling. Superman I really had the intention to make his physical movements as graceful, as elegant as possible, since he is the most powerful being on Earth.
G2M: Two things: first, the flying scene at the end where you smile at the camera, you nailed it, you were awesome. And I really would have loved you to have had more screen time with Parker Posey.
BR: Thanks! You know, those were great scenes for me. Because you know the scenes with Lois very - kind of - there’s a lot of drama happening. (laughs) So I didn’t get to have that light, flirty charismatic stuff. So the only opportunity I really had to show that side of Superman were with the scenes with Kitty Kowalski; to have fun, to have that playfulness and that charm come out. So I was grateful to get those scenes and Parker‘s a fantastic actress.
G2M: And finally, I know you’re active in social media. Where can your fans interact with you?
BR: Yeah, Twitter is @BrandonJRouth. I have Facebook but I don’t do that so much (laughs). You know, I was very hesitant to begin the whole Twitter experience, but I think I’ve been online for 2 or 3 years now, I feel more free to tweet. You know I tweet a lot more often if I’m working on something. I also tweet about some of the non-profit work that I do with National Service and community service, people giving back in those ways. Not to preach to anybody, but get the word out anyway.
I’m a staunch supporter of the Americorp program, which is a government program about national service. It’s like the Peace Corp, but it’s people working here at home. It gets a bad rap, I think, because it’s a government program. People who don’t understand think it’s just the government spending money for kids that don’t wanna go to college. But these kids are getting paid below the poverty level basically. They‘re a huge resource, whether they‘re working in schools, after-school programs, rebuilding homes, part of FEMA Corps, which is a great program. Kids are working with FEMA and going in after natural disasters happen and rebuilding these devastated communities. I could talk a long time about it.
G2M: Superman wants kids to help make the world a better place. How could you not talk about it? (laughs) Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.
BR: Thanks for reaching out. Cheers.