5 Things You Didn't Know About Christopher Reeve's Superman

On May 27, 1995, actor Christopher Reeve was paralyzed from the neck down when he was thrown from his horse during an equestrian event in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Here are five things you probably didn't know about this real-life Superman...


He Beat Out Muhammad Ali And Elton John For The Role Of Superman When casting began for the role of Superman, over 200 actors competed for the part. Among them were some true Hollywood A-listers. Producers auditioned muscle-bound talents like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallon. They also auditioned actors such as  Al Pacino, Robert Redford. Charles Bronson, Dustin Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Nick Nolte, and Steve McQueen. Even pop star Elton John auditioned for the chance to be Superman. Even boxer Muhammad Ali was considered at one point. Despite all these stars vying for attention, Christopher Reeve caught the eye of the producers despite only having three brief TV roles. 

Christopher Reeve Trained Under Darth Vader After landing the role of Superman, a skinny Christopher Reeve was told that needed to wear an artificial muscle suit to become a match for Superman's physique. He refused, preferring to undergo a strict workout regimen to buff-up for the part. Enter David Prowse, the British actor who provided the body of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Prowse was hired to train Reeve and instituted a weight-training program to bulk Reeve up for the role. Prowse's teachings were a success, and after an intense six-week program, Reeve went from 170 pounds to 212 pounds. Reeve continued gaining muscle mass while filming, to such a degree that some scenes had to be re-shot because his body no longer matched the original footage. 


Reeve’s Pay for the Movie Was Ridiculously Small Because he was still relatively unknown, Reeve only earned $250,000 for Superman, and his second film Superman II. This was peanuts compared to some of his co-stars. Gene Hackman was paid $2 million for his role as Lex Luthor and Marlon Brando received an astounding $3.7 million to play Jor-El. This made Brando the highest-paid movie star ever, at the time. The Superman actor didn't publicly complain about this, instead saying that  "Superman brought him many opportunities".Brando, by comparison, sued the producers for not paying him enough and eventually took $14 million from them for appearing in just ten minutes of the movie.

Reeve Also Played Two Voice Parts In The First Film In addition to portraying both Superman, Reeve also provided two voice performances for the film. He was asked to lend his voice to the Metropolis air traffic controller character. This character is never seen on screen, but he is heard on the radio during both the Helicopter crash scene and the Air Force One sequence. Reeve's other voice performance was a larger one. He recorded all of Jeff East's lines as the young Clark Kent, which were dubbed over East's original performance during the editing process. "I was not happy about it because the producers never told me what they had in mind," East said. He added: "It was done without my permission but it turned out to be okay. Chris did a good job but it caused tension between us. We resolved our issues with each other years later." 

He Was A Real-Life Superman On May 27, 1995, Reeve broke his neck when he was thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition in Culpepper, Virginia. The injury paralyzed him from the shoulders down, and he used a wheelchair and ventilator for the rest of his life. Following the accident, Reeve lobbied on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries and for human embryonic stem cell research, founding the Christopher Reeve Foundation and co-founding the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. Reeve died on October 10, 2004, 15 days after his 52nd birthday. A real-life super man indeed.