15 Actors Who Almost Played Superman

POSTED BY , UPDATED ON July 3rd, 2015

15 Actors Who Almost Played Superman

As one of the most well-known cultural icons in America and a household name worldwide, Superman stands out as the greatest comic book superhero of all time. The character has reached beyond publications to the point of animated and feature films. Casting a superhero is anything but an easy task and the following are the 15 actors who almost played superman on the silver screen:


15. Brendon Fraser

brendan fraser

As a fast rising star in Hollywood, it would not have been a surprise if Brandon Fraser earned himself the role of the last son of Krypton in then-potential Superman movie titled Superman: Flyby under the direction of J. J. Abrams.

When the project got abandoned in the favor of Superman Returns, so did Fraser’s role of a lifetime. After the movie received mixed reviews, Fraser strongly backed up Abram’s vision and even compared it with The Lord of the Rings.


14. Josh Hartnett

josh hartnett

Best known for his performances in epic war films such as Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down, one can only imagine the fate of the movie if Josh Hartnett became Clark Kent aka Superman.

Not just any movie, the potential Batman vs. Superman movie intended to be released in 2004 with J. J. Abrams serving as the director. However, the project was cancelled in favor of Batman Begins.


13. Al Pacino

Al pacino

At one point of his life, Al Pacino was the biggest box office draw and considered as one of the greatest actors of all time. Despite working with Marlon Brando before, the actor lost the role of Superman to Christopher Reeve in the 1978 movie of the same name.

On a side note, it is interesting to note that during his career which has spanned almost five decades, Pacino has played versatile roles such as a criminal, detective, lawyer, police officer, football coach but never a superhero.


12. Armie Hammer

Armie hammer

Once the casting phase for the Man of Steel began, then-26 year old Armie Hammer was among the top contenders for the role of Superman but fate had different plans for him. Hammer explained to Vulture in 2010:

“I did talk to my people recently about that for the first time, and I think they’re going a little older with Superman. I hear they’re going 35, 40.”

However, the role went to Henry Cavill who was at the time just two years older than Hammer. On a side note, both actors will team up in the upcoming spy-fi action comedy film The Man from U.N.C.L.E.


11. James Caan


At age 75, James Caan is still going like there is no tomorrow and that signifies his passion for the movie industry. Best known for his roles in The Godfather, The Gambler and Thief, it is no surprise that the actor was offered the lead role for the 1978 Superman movie.

It can be assumed that pulling the role of a superhero by an actor like Caan is easy as pie but the ultimately, he declined the role and Christopher Reeve came on board. Caan’s reason behind the refusal? “I just couldn’t wear that suit.”


10. Clint Eastwood


Without a shadow of a doubt, Clint Eastwood is a symbol of masculinity and is a certified legend in Hollywood. The very idea of Eastwood as the Man of Steel is intriguing, so how the bullet was dodged?

Due to a strong liking towards characters more grounded in reality, Eastwood respectfully declined. “Superman? Nah, nah, that’s not for me”. Scheduling conflicts also played a part in the actor’s decision.


9. Zac Efron


Among the numerous actors strongly considered for the lead role in Superman Returns, the teenage heartthrob Zac Efron felt confident that he may bag the role with great ease but pulled back upon the friendly advice of Leonardo DiCaprio.

However, if then 19-year old Efron had accepted the role, the entire movie would have seemed more like a two and a half hour episode of Smallville due to the actor’s fresh face.


8. Will Smith

will smith

In more than a thousand publications of Superman comics, not even once has the character been depicted as an African American but that did not stop the studio from offering Will Smith the role of the Man of Steel in Superman Returns.

Smith thankfully declined, believing “you can’t be messing up white peoples’ heroes in Hollywood”. Two years later, Smith portrayed the original superhero Hancock in the movie of the same name only to receive mixed reviews.