Gene Hackman and Cast of the First 'Superman' Movie Then and Now
The 1978 film was the first big-budget theatrical release about the iconic superhero, and it exposed the epic comic book character to a wider audience and a new generation, turning Christopher Reeve into a star.
When Richard Donner’s “Superman” was completed, it became the most expensive movie ever made until then, with a budget of $55 million, and it didn’t disappoint, becoming a success both commercially and among critics.
While Superman has the reputation of being the first superhero as we know them, Lee Falk’s “The Phantom,” created in 1934, preceded it for four years, but Superman was the first one to enjoy superhuman abilities.
This little detail caught the imagination of American readers forever, shaping the figure of the superhero forever.
As unimpressive as the special effects of the film might look today, it was the first time when the technology available allowed the producers to portray a convincing Superman on the big screen, and they went for it, which definitely paid off.
But the most valuable asset of the first film was its impeccably chosen ensemble cast of actors, all of them conscious of the great responsibility on their shoulders. Let’s see what became of these stars, three decades later.
The late actor played the title role of Superman, a.k.a. Kal-El, a.k.a Clark Kent, an extraterrestrial from the collapsed planet Krypton that lands on Earth an orphan and assume the identity of a human and swears to protect our planet.
Reeve reprise the role in three sequels of the film (1980, 1983, 1987), and appeared in a series of acclaimed movies like “Somewhere in Time” (1980), “The Bostonians” (1984) “Street Smart” (1987) and “The Remains of the Day” (1993).
In 1995, Reeve became a quadriplegic after suffering a horse-riding accident, changing his life, but he never quit from the business, starring in “A Step Toward Tomorrow” (1996) and a TV version of “Rear Window” (1998).
He went on to direct three movies, and created the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation which works for cures and treatments for spinal cord injuries. Reeve passed away from cardiac arrest in 2004, at the age of 52.
The late actress played Lois Lane, the “Daily Planet” reporter who becomes confused between Superman and Clark, never suspecting that the two are the same person. She is a free, smart, and driven woman.
Following her breakthrough role, Lane landed another successful starring role in the horror classic “The Amityville Horror” (1979). She also returned for the three sequels of “Superman.”She was worked regularly as an actress and voice artist in TV and film, and even won an Emmy in 2015 for her appearance in “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour.” Kidder passed away at her home in her sleep in 2018, aged 69.
The late actor played Jor-El, a prominent scientist from Krypton that warns the Council about the imminent destruction of the planet but remains unheard. He is Superman’s biological father and perishes at the beginning of the film.
Already a Hollywood icon by the time he appeared in the film, Brando gave one of his best performances right after, playing Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” (1979).
After “The Formula” (1980), Brando took a 9-year-break from acting and returned with “A Dry White Season” (1989), earning his 8th and final Academy Award nomination. His last role was in “The Score” (2001), and he died four years later, at 80.
The 89-year-old actor played Superman’s eventual nemesis Lex Luthor, an evil science from Earth that discovers the hero’s weakness and nearly puts him –and the entire humanity- out of the game with his schemes.
Hackman reprised his role in “Superman II” (1980), and “Superman IV” (1987). In 1993 he won his second Oscar for “Unforgiven” (1992). He officially retired in 2004, with a legacy of 100 acting credits.
Some of the most important films of his post-“Superman” career are “Reds” (1981), “Target” (1985), “Another Woman” (1988), “Mississippi Burning” (1988), “Crimson Tide” (1995), “The Birdcage” (1996), and “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001).
The 82-year-old actor played Otis, Luthor’s idiotic and loyal sidekick, like other more important characters, Otis returned for the sequel of the film.
Following his work in the film, Beatty continued his prolific career playing supporting characters and authoritative figures. Most notably, he starred in the TV series “Homicide” (1993-1995).In 2010, he did a brilliant job voicing the teddy bear Lotso, the villain of “Toy Story 3.” In 1992 he received a Golden Globe nomination for “Hear My Song” (1991). Beatty retired in 2013 after “Baggage Claim.”
The late actor played Perry White, Clark’s boss at the “Daily Planet,” who wants to have the hottest news about Superman without imagining that he is right in front of his nose.
The 62-year-old actor played the skeptical wannabe-womanizer Jimmy Olsen, a photographer from the “Daily Planet” that is assigned as Lois’ partner in the hunt for a story on Superman.
The 72-year-old actress played Lara, Superman’s biological mother from Krypton who suffers the same fate as her planet and her husband, sending her son Jor-El to Earth with the hope of a better destiny for him.
The 76-year-old actress played Eve Teschmacher, Luthor’s girlfriend and partner in crime who eventually comes to conscious, saving Superman and freeing him to save Earth at the last minute.