Brendan Fraser Reflects on Auditioning for Scrapped J.J. Abrams ‘Superman’ Movie

In a chat with Howard Stern, the star of last year's Oscar-nominated 'The Whale' looks back 20 years later on the experience of almost being Superman.

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Current Best Actor nominee Brendan Fraser is looking back twenty years later on his screen test for a scrapped J.J. Abrams take on the classic Superman character.

As DC fans may recall, Peter Ramsey—a storyboard artist and director whose credits include Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Rise of the Guardians—brought the scrapped Superman: Flybyback into discussion in 2019 by sharing some never-before-seen art from the project.

“Never made, but I had fun,” Ramsey said at the time.

In a recent interview with Howard Stern, Fraser reflected on being one of the actors in the running for the lead role back in 2002 and 2003. According to the actor, whose recent performance in The Whale has garnered acclaim, “everyone in town” was reading for the part at the time, including the late Paul Walker.

“Of course, it’s a life-changing, amazing opportunity,” Fraser said of the experience. “But I had to reconcile with, okay, say you do get the job to be the Man of Steel. It’s gonna be chipped on your gravestone. Are you okay with that? I mean, you’ll forevermore be known as the Man of Steel.”

Adding that there was a “Faustian bargain” of sorts at the heart of this conundrum, Fraser continued, theorizing that his own personal feelings about being pigeonholed as an actor likely contributed to him not getting the part.

“I think inherently I didn’t want to be known for only one thing because I prided myself on diversity my whole professional life,” he said. “I’m not a one-trick pony.” And while he did feel “disappointed” at the time about an “amazing opportunity” not being brought to fruition, he’s since made peace with it.

“It had to do a lot with some shenanigans and studio politics and probably, inherently in my screen test—I think that’s why you test—they could kinda see I was only there, like, 98 percent,” Fraser recalled.

The Superman universe is soon set to get another cinematic update as part of James Gunn’s DC Studios plans. Fraser, meanwhile, is currently up for an Oscar and recently surprised understandably stoked fans at a screening of his beloved 1999 adventure The Mummy in London.

This month, the actor’s multifaceted career was the subject of a new zine from A24, the distributors behind The Whale.

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