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Christopher Reeve knew playing Superman might be a blow to his well-established theater career, but he was confident in the gamble — even if friends weren’t.
The deeply beloved actor and humanitarian was born on this day in 1952. His name was trending on social media Saturday as fans paid their respects to the actor, who died in 2004 at the age of 52. Google also honored Reeve with a homepage Doodle.
Speaking with Dick Cavett in 1981, Reeve said he was given somewhat of a hard time from pals and colleagues when he agreed to play Superman in the 1978 blockbuster, but he knew something they did not.
“There were my friends, people who had the same prejudice that I did about the part,” Reeve said then. “There is a group of us who all auditioned for the same things, who all went to school together and were coming up through the ranks.” He noted that the group included the likes of his best friend Robin Williams, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, James Woods, Steve Collins and Treat Williams.
“A lot of them said, ‘That is it, boy. Down the drain. Bye-bye. It’s boots forever. Take it while you can.’ But they hadn’t read the material. And I took the gamble that the material was actually straight enough and classy enough that I could get away with it,” Reeve said. “So it was a calculated risk that actually accelerated the pace of my career. If I hadn’t done that part — it’s like the difference between taking Route 1 and I-95, the Connecticut turnpike. I just got here faster. It doesn’t mean I am any better than I was. I’m still that same actor I’ve always been. I’m just a little more noticed.”
Reeve would play Superman in four films over the span of a decade. He noted in other interviews that he never felt typecast due to the role and made sure to take an assortment of projects because he was a serious, versatile actor.
Watch the full interview below.
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