Brendan Fraser is in the process of returning after receiving praise for his new role in “The Whale.” With the Brenaissance train, there is always time to remember his best films, as well as films that were almost shot. One of Fraser’s films that was never realized was when he auditioned for the role of Superman back in the early 2000s, and now he explains what went wrong during the audition.
While we can’t get past Christopher Reeve’s famous performance as Superman, we’ve also seen actors like Brandon Root and Henry Cavill don the red cape. It’s a little crazy to think that Brendan Fraser could also be so close to joining this list. His audition took place before J.J. Abrams’ “Superman: Flyby” became one of the many films that never happened in Washington. The “Whale” actor spoke on “The Howard Stern Show” about what the casting process was like to become the next Superman, saying:
In 2002 or 2003, we test six or seven guys. I remember that Paul Walker was before me. I remember the usual suspects. So, of course, this is an amazing life-changing opportunity, but you had to put up with… well, say you got a job as a Man of Steel, it will be carved on your tombstone. Do you agree with that? I mean, I will forever be known as the Man of Steel. This feeling was a kind of Faustian bargain. And I think, at my core, I didn’t want to be known for just one thing, because I’ve been proud of diversity all my professional life. I’m not a one-trick pony.
It’s absolutely true that Brendan Fraser playing Superman could be a commitment for a decade, because superhero movies are usually followed by sequels. But even if the movie offers a very lucrative deal with a lot of money, you risk being famous only thanks to superhero movies. For example, Elizabeth Olsen from WandaVision admitted that the role of the Scarlet Witch prevented her from acting in other films, since she signed a contract with Marvel for several films. So, in the end, she had to give up Oscar-nominated films like “The Lobster.” However, a superhero game can definitely give you Hollywood fame as it elevates actors to a new level of fame. However, it would be nice for casting directors to see you in other types of characters as well.
After all, no one has ever played Clark Kent in Superman: Flying Around, because it turned out to be one of the many Superman movies that never happened. Brendan Fraser went on to talk about what it was like to find out that this superhero movie was eventually canceled.
I was disappointed that there was an amazing opportunity and it didn’t materialize. This was largely due to some machinations and studio politics. And probably by the nature of my screen test, I think that’s why they’re testing. They could see that I was only 98% there instead.
In the early 2000s, J.J. Abrams was going to create his own Superman origin story. Jor-El releases his son Kal-El to Earth before he is sent to prison, and must defeat three Kryptonians who come to Earth after the Man of Steel reveals himself to the world. However, there were a lot of crazy details that Abrams included in his script that deviated from the origin story we know, like Krypton didn’t explode, Lex Luthor was a Kryptonian, Kryptonian kung fu inspired by the matrix, and more.
The closest we’ll ever get to Abrams’ vision is his storyboards for Flyby, which give an idea of what we’d see. But production problems, an abnormally large budget and the inability to pick up the title role in the film led to its cancellation. You can watch Brendan Fraser talk more about this experience to Howard Stern below.
Brendan Fraser may not have had a chance to play Superman, but he had a key role in HBO’s Fatal Patrol Max, where he played a completely different type of hero. Given that Fraser’s live performance as Cliff Steele was interrupted due to his character’s body being destroyed in a car accident, he later provided the voice to Robotman. While you can’t watch the “Mummy” star as the Man of Steel, you can watch him in the DC universe by watching the completed four-season series “Fatal Patrol” with an HBO Max subscription.