‘Superman’ Producer Sounds Off on ‘Man of Steel’ – Plus a Secret’s Revealed
Ilya Salkind talks with Geek Smash about how “Superman” came about, and who almost became the man of steel?
It was a glorious day for this geek as I got to sit down for a lengthy discussion with the man who gave us the everlasting image of Christopher Reeve as Superman, Ilya Salkind, the executive producer of “Superman 1-4,” “Superboy,” “Supergirl,” and so on and so on. Everyone who’s played the man of steel since Reeve is compared to him, so he’s definitely the standard at this point. But he wasn’t always the first choice…and you won’t believe who it could have been!
Let’s turn back time for a minute and open your imagination. There hasn’t been a movie of this kind made…ever…and you set about to convince the world that a man can fly using, not cgi, but ropes and pulleys. Up to this point, the closest thing you’ve seen is some aerial stunts on Kung-Fu Theater but nothing of this magnitude. So, hmm…what would this cost? Well, first you have to get someone REALLY famous to play Superman, right? Someone who has the proven chops to play the humble and shy Clark Kent then bust out the pecs for a daring and fearless Kryptonian bad-ass. Well, Ilya Salkind fought with the studios to prove to them that they were wrong. What they needed was an unknown…and that unknown was skinny Christopher Reeve.
When Reeve turned up to the audition, he tried to hide his bones by wearing an oversized sweater, but his scrawny neck gave him away. Never mind that, Ilya still had to have him. He was convinced Reeve could bulk up for the role. But there still remained the studio’s need for a major star. As fate would have it, Brando agreed to the role of Superman’s father, Jor-El. This gave the Salkinds the big name they needed, and Reeve was then offered the part of Superman.
During my discussion with Ilya, he revealed a few rather interesting bits of information.