Christopher Reeve’s Superman is one of the greatest depictions of a superhero in film history. He was earnest, genuine, tall, and built. But he didn’t start out that way. In fact, Richard Donner called him a “skinny little kid” who had to promise to bulk up to take the starring role in the 1978 film.
Heat Vision recently dug up an interview with Reeve where he discusses bulking up with none other than the man behind Darth Vader’s famous mask, David Prowse.
Apparently the two became quite close and struck up a friendship. David Prowse was very complimentary of the younger actor.
He was fantastic. He was a very lovely person. We were like brothers, we got along so well together. And during the course of the period I had him, I took him from 170 pounds when we started and he was 212 when he went into the suit.
But Christopher Reeve didn’t need much convincing, he just needed help. From the get-go the young actor was already well aware of what he need to do to become Superman.
You can do all the interior work you want to do, and it still isn’t going to get you to Superman if you don’t have the physical strength to go with it….the stronger I get, the more it helps my mental attitude toward the part.
It took Reeve and Prowse working together for six weeks to get into the right shape for Superman.
Listen to the full interview:
A great attitude that brought about a phenomenal performance. But it turns out he needed some help…
A Helping Hand
Star Wars and the DC Universe are two of the biggest franchises in film history. One is owned by Disney; the other by Warner Bros. Every film of theirs comes under such extreme scrutiny that either studio will probably never make a film that isn’t somehow controversial. The same scrutiny is given to the stars of these films. Every detail needs to be perfect; every details needs to be right.
No one knows that more than David Prowse. He was more than capable of capturing the physicality of Darth Vader, but unfortunately fell short in the voice department. Leading the casting of James Earl Jones in the part…leading to perhaps the best combination of actors to make one role in the history of the medium.
Never the less, this story is more one of surprising coincidence than anything. Just like life itself, you never know what surprising connections there are at the beginning of some of Hollywood’s greatest stories. Robert Englund convinced a young Mark Hamill to try out for Luke Skywalker; Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake grew up together before either thought of becoming something more. It’s the kind of delightful story that somehow makes each celebrity a little more interesting.
Well, David Prowse may not be the reason Christopher Reeve was a perfect Superman. But he certainly helped.