We’re currently amidst a bona fide “Brendanassaince,” referring to Brendan Fraser, the beloved actor who’s currently enjoying a well-deserved comeback. He might even even win an Oscar next month. It’s something he’d probably rather have than a role he missed out on some 20 years back. That’s right: The star of the late-‘90s-through-late-aughts Mummy movies almost but not quite also nabbed the role of Superman. But at the time he wasn’t so sure he even wanted it.
In a predictably frank interview with Howard Stern — the one where he revealed he and Matt Damon were buck nekkid shooting a key School Ties scene — Fraser looked back on one of the many chaotic attempts to bring the Man of Steel back to the big screen. There was the time, in the late ‘90s, when Tim Burton was going to do it. Kevin Smith even wrote a draft. Nicolas Cage would have starred. That one, obviously, didn’t happen. But Hollywood tried again a few years later, this time with J.J. Abrams, and Fraser was one of the stars they tapped to audition (along with Paul Walker).
“Everyone in town was reading for Superman. They were testing six or seven guys in 2002 or 2003,” Fraser recalled. Still, he had his doubts. “Of course it’s a life-changing, amazing opportunity, 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.”
Fraser did express regret that it didn’t work out, which he blamed on “shenanigans and studio politics, and, probably, inherently, in my screen test. I think that’s why you test — they could kind of see I was only there like 98 percent instead.”
Hollywood eventually got their act together, and by 2006 there was Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, starring Fraser’s almost-first name namesake Brandon Routh. Alas, that one underperformed, leaving Supes off the screen for another seven years. Now the guy who played him there, Henry Cavill, is out too, and there’s yet another silver screen Superman in the works. Time really is a flat circle.
You can watch the relevant part of Fraser’s Stern chat in the video above.
(Via Entertainment Weekly)