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From Ashton Kutcher to Nic Cage: Actors Who Were Almost Cast as Superman

Ashton Kutcher Superman
Kristy Putchko

Are you excited for ‘Man of Steel’? You should be, because it could’ve been Ashton Kutcher in those red and blue tights.

Before you go see Henry Cavill try his hand at playing the son of Jor-El, look at all the other dudes who were almost Superman. Some of them are quite troubling, like the aforementioned Kutcher and an actor whose name rhymes with “Bosh Barnett.” Oh, and we’re not just talking Superman — we discovered that a certain ‘Twilight’ star was supposed to play Lois Lane. (No, not Taylor Lautner. That would be weird.) See who almost played Superman, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and more below. (Fake posters by Kristy Puchko.)


Robert Redford, Stockard Channing and Paul Newman

‘Superman: The Movie’
Superman 1978
Kristy Puchko

‘Superman’ producers Ilya and Alexander Salkind considered Robert Redford for the lead, but director Richard Donner thought people would just see a superstar flying and wanted to go with an unknown.

‘Grease’ star Stockard Channing was among the many actresses who screen tested opposite Christopher Reeve for the Lois Lane role which ultimately went to Margot Kidder. And Redford’s ‘Butch Cassidy’ costar, Paul Newman, was offered his choice of the roles of Superman, Jor-El or Lex Luthor, but turned all of them down.


Nicolas Cage, Courteney Cox and Tim Allen

‘Superman Lives!’
Superman Lives Cage
Kristy Puchko

In 1998, Nicolas Cage was cast as Superman in Tim Burton’s ‘Superman Lives!’ based on Kevin Smith’s script. Courteney Cox was up for Lois Lane, while Tim Allen claimed he was in talks to play Brainiac. The project ultimately fell apart, but test photos of Cage sporting some very ’90s hair while wearing a shiny Superman costume surfaced a while back to the delight of Cage-heads everywhere.


Will Smith and Claire Danes

‘Superman Returns’
Kristy Puchko
Kristy Puchko

While promoting ‘Hancock’ in 2008, Will Smith revealed that he was offered the lead in ‘Superman Returns,’ but turned it down because, “I had already done Jim West [in ‘Wild Wild West’], and you can’t be messing up white people’s heroes in Hollywood!” And while Kate Bosworth ultimately landed the Lois Lane role, the filmmakers considered Keri Russell and Claire Danes.


Ashton Kutcher, Johnny Depp, Scarlett Johansson and Shia LaBeouf

‘Superman: Flyby’
Superman Flyby
Kristy Puchko

Ashton Kutcher was offered the Man of Steel role in ‘Superman: Flyby,’ a film that would’ve been directed by McG based on a script by J.J. Abrams, but turned it down due to scheduling conflicts with ‘That 70s Show.’ Shia LaBeouf was up for the Jimmy Olsen role, as this was back in the early days of his career when audiences would’ve bought him as a scrappy sidekick. Scarlett Johansson was approached to play Lois Lane while Johnny Depp was considered for Luthor before the proposed Superman origin film was abandoned. (How is it possible that Depp has still never played a supervillain?)


Kristen Stewart and Henry Cavill

‘Man of Steel’
Man of Steel
Kristy Puchko

Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis and Kristen Stewart were considered for Lois Lane in ‘Man of Steel.’ Thankfully fans were spared Kristen Stewart’s mopey, mumbling take on Lois.


James Franco and Johnny Depp

‘Superman Vs. Batman’
Superman Batman
Kristy Puchko

Johnny Depp and James Franco were among the actors up for the Batman/Superman movie developed by director Wolfgang Petersen and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (‘Batman Forever’). Despite being abandoned, the concept lives on as a fake poster in ‘I Am Legend,’ which was penned by Goldsman.


Josh Hartnett, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Walken, Ralph Fiennes

‘Superman: Flyby’
Superman Flyby
Kristy Puchko

Director Brett Ratner was at one point attached to ‘Superman: Flyby,’ and the lead was offered to Josh Harnett. (This was the early ’00s when Hartnett was still a marketable leading man.) Christopher Walken was considered for Perry White, while Ralph Fiennes would’ve been Lex Luthor before playing Lord Voldemort. Meanwhile, Anthony Hopkins might’ve played another superhero dad, Jor-El, before his turn as Odin in ‘Thor.’

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