It’s been nearly two years since the world was introduced to Brandon Routh when he became the latest actor to don the big red S of the world’s most iconic superhero for Superman Returns. Though Bryan Singer’s film itself prompted a wide variety of reactions, one thing everyone seemed to praise was Routh’s spot-on portrayal of both Clark Kent and his Kryptonian alter ego, and now audiences will get their first taste of the actor’s range out of the cape or the nerdy glasses.
Lie to Me, Routh’s first post-Superman outing which premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival April 26, casts the actor as one of the points of a romantic rectangle in a decided unconventional love story. An attractive, successful, committed young couple (Steve Sandross and Courtney Ford, Routh’s real-life wife) experiment with an open relationship, permitting each other uncomplicated affairs on the side, but when she begins a romantic entanglement with a levelheaded ex-boyfriend (Routh) that soon starts to feel like love, the boundaries are pushed to the breaking point.
ComingSoon.net chatted with Routh about coming back down to earth for Lie to Me as well as a slew of upcoming projects, including darkly comic turns in Life is Hot in Cracktown and Miss Nobody, and his role as a lesser-known Italian comic book icon, the supernatural investigator Dylan Dog in Dead of Knight.
Oh, and yes, a little character called Superman, a role Routh expects to reprise early next year in Singer’s follow-up Superman: Man of Steel. The actor tells all about what he hopes to do next in the cape, his thoughts about the proposed Justice League movie, warming up to the idea of a Superman-Batman battle with Christian Bale and the unexpected bond with Quentin Tarantino over “Kill Bill’s” take on Superman’s view of humanity.
ComingSoon.net: Why did you want to do “Lie to Me” – what excited you about it as a follow-up to “Superman Returns”? Brandon Routh: Well, coming off of “Superman Returns” and playing the character that is Superman and being a kind of larger-than-life character, I found a great opportunity in this movie to play a real person, a person who I not so much had things in common with but who was having some relationship issues. It’s a real thing that people can understand. Superman had relationship issues as well, but it’s certainly a little bit harder to see how that works in your life.
CS: Tell me about the film and the character that you play in it. Routh: James is a pretty standup guy, a pretty traditional guy. So he comes back into Samantha’s life and they had dated back in college. It was maybe five, six, seven, eight years ago and then the relationship ended, I think, mostly because James wasn’t ready to commit and didn’t commit. But years later he’s kind of a changed man and meets up with Sam out of the blue and they start getting involved again in a relationship. Then she reveals to him that she’s in an open relationship to which James is like, “What?! You weren’t that person and I don’t know if I can deal with that. I’m kind of old-fashioned.” Then we spend the course of the movie seeing how James is going to react to that and seeing how Sam and the relationship with her other boyfriend, how all that works out. It’s about how the open relationship is tested. It certainly works for some people, but it doesn’t work for everybody, that situation.
CS: What was the most challenging thing for you working on “Lie to Me”? Routh: Well, I can’t really talk about what a few of the scenes are about, but there are some trying emotional scenes that deal with heavy subjects, dealing with situations that I haven’t been in before. So any time that happens it always feels a bit risky or you get scared about it. A lot of times what I do and I know a lot of actors do is they use a situation that they’ve had in life before that’s like whatever the given situation is. They say, “Okay, this is how maybe I would react to this situation.” But I really didn’t have anything to base a couple of these reactions off of and so I like how they came out, but you just never know when you’re shooting if it’s enough or too much emotion. You just have to trust the director that they’re seeing what they want and that it feels real to them. There are some emotional scenes in there that at first I was a little hesitant about for sure.
CS: You got the chance to work with Courtney Ford, your fiancée at the time and now your wife. What was that experience like? Was seeing her having romantic scenes with another man add to your character work at all? Routh: Well, I wasn’t on set really when they were doing any of their romancing. I didn’t want to have be around for that and make it awkward for them and for myself, but you know what? That did add to our relationship, to Sam and James’ relationship, our characters’ relationship because the characters do have a previous history. They knew each other before we see them in the film. They have a level of comfort with each other and obviously we have our past to make that very real. We were very open and able to talk about all these issues that are brought up in the film. So we had each had a good sounding board, talking to each other about we each felt about this kind of situation. That was very helpful too, being able to go deeper into the emotional stages of the characters and the relationships.
CS: How is married life treating you in real life? Routh: It’s good. It’s great. It’s nice to have that security in a way. I know that it’s done [laughs]. I feel very happy about that. The one key to that is that it’s a statement to the world in a way that says, “I love her very much and she loves me very much and we’re very happy.”
CS: You’ve been pretty busy making films and have more things coming up. Are you talking about a family or focusing on your careers now and worrying about that later? Routh: Well, yes. We wish someday to have a family and that will come at the right time and I’ve started to get very busy again and she’s become very busy. It’s not something for both of us we’re going to do now. We’re going to allow our careers to flourish a little bit now before we take a needed break to start a family.
CS: You’ve also done “Life is Hot in Cracktown” which is also pretty far away from the kinds of movie audiences know you for. What was fun about that experience? Routh: That opportunity came about through a friend who asked me to do this part. My character, Sizemore, adds a little glue to the film and a little levity. My character is a drug addict. It’s funny that he has facts and levity, but the film is very, very dark and deals with a heavy subject matter. So in a sense it is a little bit of levity because they’re lighter scenes, but it was also the opportunity to stretch and play something that people wouldn’t expect and that I wouldn’t have expected from myself either. It’s a nice little taste, though, of being able to envision me as something completely different and I trust that’s what it’ll do for audiences and will be seen wherever it’s available to be seen.
CS: And then there’s “Miss Nobody” with Leslie Bibb. Now that’s darker too, but also funny? Routh: Yes, that’s a murder/comedy, which I think is also one of our tag lines for the film. It’s a dark comedy, but Leslie Bibb is the lead character and basically heads up killing people on accident at first and then on purpose. But we’re okay with it because these people are all seen as villains of sort or bad in some way. It’s a pretty genius script and very, very funny. Leslie is great and quirky in the film and it was an opportunity for me to do some comedy and work with other great comedic actors. I’m really excited about that. I think they’re finishing up postproduction and I’m not sure when the release is on that, but it might be later this year.
CS: You showed a real flair for comedy playing Clark Kent. Is that a love of yours, doing the funny stuff? Routh: It is. It’s really my first love. The first theater that I ever did was playing a really silly character onstage and I’m a character a little bit in a leading man’s body. So it’s hard to get to those gigs because they don’t think of me. I do my best to present myself as a leading man as well because I am both of those things. So it was great to be able to play Clark in “Superman Returns.” I thought Clark was funny and that’s why I loved playing him and I look forward to doing more of him when we do the sequel. I’ve already been pushing for more Clark and more funny.
CS: Do you have any expectation as to when you might go to work on “Man of Steel”? Routh: I expect that we’ll be working early next year. I know that Bryan [Singer] has pretty much finished out “Valkyrie” and is back in the states and is zeroing in on the story that he wants to tell. Once that arrives it’s going to move pretty quickly. I think that everybody is getting excited. It’s been three years now, really. It’s hard to believe that it’s been long, but everyone is getting jazzed and ready to go again. I certainly am.
CS: What sides of Superman and Clark Kent are you excited about exploring in the sequel? Routh: Well, I think that something that audiences are looking for and I certainly am, too is for Superman to actually be able to lay a punch on someone or something. I was filming and I thought, “I haven’t really hit anything. I feel like I’m going to need to let some of this anger out.” So I’m happy that I think that’s going to be a central part of the sequel, getting a good villain that we can actually have physical altercations with. Certainly also, I’d like more humor from Clark or just more of Clark and Jimmy. A little bit more of Lois and Clark, how we used to see them, a bit more of buddies. Perhaps things will be smoothed over with Superman and Lois and she can afford to be a little bit nicer to Clark. I think that’s something that people want to see and those are some of the great moments from previous “Superman” films. Also, Superman and Lois getting together, that’s always my end goal. I want that to happen. The romantic in me wants that to happen eventually whether they’re finally together in this movie or in whatever future films there might be. I kind of want to see that happen.
CS: Poor James Marsden. He’s getting used to losing the girl. Routh: I know, but he had some good films come out this year, and so James is doing all right.
CS: Has Bryan given you any voice in the plan, maybe asking you what you’d like to see or what you’re looking forward to? Routh: Yeah, and well, even if he doesn’t ask I tell him all the time. He’s very receptive to my notes and my thoughts and so I just let him know. I keep telling him that thing about Lois and Superman getting together and I trust that if I keep repeating that he’ll just think it’s his own thought someday.
CS: Have you stayed in shape for the next time you have to put the suit on or is it going to be starting all over from scratch? Routh: I’m definitely not starting over from scratch. There was certainly some time where I was like, “Ugh. I can’t take anymore of this working out. It’s been my life for too long.” So I shunned it for a little while, but I’ve gotten back into it and it makes me feel better to do it too so that it doesn’t feel like so much of a hassle, something that has to be done. I actually will be in a very good place when we start again and will see if I can’t make it a little more bigger and a little bit more impressive.
CS: There was a lot of talk about a “Justice League” film, but sounds like it’s not going to happen now. Did they ever talk to you about appearing in that? Routh: They talked to me about it, yes, but I think someone else asked me if they ever offered me the role and they did not. I’m happy that we’re talking about “Man of Steel” again and “Batman” looks great and is coming out and that looks great and I think it’s time for those two characters, certainly, to flourish and some of the DC Comic Universe to strike out on their own first and strengthen each character individually and then to go at all of them together.
CS: Have you changed your stance on doing a movie together with Christian Bale playing Batman, just the two of you? Routh: I’ve been asked that question many times and at first, I think I’ve been quoted as saying that Superman and Batman should never fight each other which makes sense to me. They should be fighting together on the same team, but Christian is certainly a great actor and a very nice guy. I’m excited for the new “Batman.” So I’ll open up my view because I know that people want to see it and maybe there’s a story that could be told that way that makes sense to me. So I won’t put it out anymore. I won’t say no anymore.
CS: Have you ever had a chance to sit down and compare notes with other guys like Christian or Hugh Jackman, the guys that have played iconic superheroes? Routh: No, I haven’t. That would be great though, having a roundtable discussion one day about the good things and the bad things about playing a superhero, a comic hero. Maybe someday.
CS: After the first “Superman” came out what’s been your favorite fan encounter? Any unusual people recognizing you in unusual places? Routh: Yeah, sometimes when I’m just out and about and I haven’t shaved for a few days and I’m not thinking that anyone is going to recognize me just out of the blue someone will go, “Superman!” I go, “What?! Are they talking to me?” So there are times when I’m shocked by people, but the cooler things are when a lot of the time little kids are just shocked by me being Superman. Also when we’re filming there are times when adults, male and female, will come to set and I’d be fully in the costume and they’d just not be able to speak and be really in awe. So that was neat and kind of funny because they’re adults. But it’s also sweet because people have a great love for this character and it’s really exciting to see that and that we brought that back and are continuing to bring that back, that enjoyment and that love for a character that they like so much.
CS: Any celebrities who blew your mind by coming up to you and saying they were fans of “Superman Returns”? Routh: I’ve had this nice little friendly relationship with Quentin Tarantino ever since “Superman” and that’s cool because I’m a big fan of his films and I’d love to work with him someday. We happened to meet right before I went to Australia and I said, “I really like what David Carradine said and what Bill said about Clark and Superman.” So, now we have a kind of have nice conversations about Superman whenever we’re around each other.
CS: Have you stayed involved at all with the Christopher Reeve Foundation? I know you were a big supporter when the movie came out? Routh: Yes, I have to the extent that I do my best to attend the charity dinners and be a part of a lot of their things like that and speak out about the foundation. I work with the family and do what I can for that as I continue to make a name for myself.
CS: It’s one thing to carry on the “Superman” legacy, but then the Christopher Reeve legacy is amazing too. Did you have to stop and think about taking up that mantle too? Routh: Well, it’s a challenging thing because it’s very important for me to make my own name and to separate myself from Chris and his performance a little bit and who he was a little bit, so that I can make Brandon Routh known and be in everyone’s awareness. But certainly he did a lot of amazing things and I so I take what I can and I try to spread his good word and all the goodness that did and his family is really doing an amazing job. His kids are continuing his legacy especially with the foundation. They’re really great people and I’m excited and very proud to know them now. I do what I can to help them and the foundation to raise awareness.
CS: Has DC ever offered you the opportunity write a “Superman” story? Routh: They haven’t yet, but that would be a really great honor at some point and maybe I’d bring it up with Paul Levitz.
CS: You’ve got a lesser-known comics icon, Dylan Dog, that you’re going to play as well. Routh: Yes, lesser known in the States, but probably more known in Italy and a lot of European countries. I’m very excited about the production of that. It’s a movie called “Dead of Night.” It’s about Dylan who’s a nightmare investigator and primarily in this film we’re going to be involved with zombies and werewolves and vampires and some activity that occurs there creating comedy, action, horror and the thrills ensue.
CS: What are you hearing about Dylan Dog from fans? What are people insisting upon seeing in that character? Routh: I can’t read it all because a lot of it is in Italian. There just aren’t a lot of American fans who know about it, but we’re going to put together a great cast of other people who fans of science fiction and comic books, those genres, are going to love. What I’ve been able to read is that of course they love the character of Groucho who is Dylan’s assistant in the comics. He’s a Groucho Marx impersonator. In the translation to film, it’s not going to quite translate the way that you want it to and so unfortunately Groucho won’t be a part of the film, but there’s going to be an amazing sidekick and assistant and he’s going to be a really great character that people will fall in love with, I think. They might be upset at first, but we’ll woo them and do our best to bring back all the elements in keeping with the Dylan Dog lore. It’s always a challenge when you go from a comic book to a film. You have to make decisions about what’s going to play and what’s not going to play and how do you make it work because they’re completely different mediums. So it’s a challenge.
CS: Any other famous fictional character that you’d love to play, or any well-known character form history you’d like to take on? Routh: Well, I don’t know. Famous? Wow. I haven’t thought about famous. I’m kind of intrigued by The Revolutionary War in America, and there are scripts involving that time period that I’m interested in and that may someday come about. So from a history standpoint that era of history interests me, telling a story from that time during the big change for our country. But there are fantasy books that I would be interested in, doing something that was a part of a film. Actually doing “Wizard’s First Rule” Sam Raimi’s company is doing a television series on that. If it was a film and not a television series I would’ve loved to have played the Richard role, but do to it being a television series I can’t do that.
CS: But you do have some TV work coming up, too. Routh: I’ll be doing an episode of “Fear Itself” which is an anthology series on NBC much like or a take off on “Masters of Horror.” My episode is kind of like a “Twilight Zone.” The series starts May 29th and they’re using film directors working with a really good cast. I had the opportunity to work with Mary Harron who directed “American Psycho.” So I’m really excited about that. My episode might be first and everyone can stay tuned and watch what I think will be a thrilling hour of television.