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Brando vs. Crowe as Superman Franchise's Jor-El

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 15, 2011 at 9:18AM

I find disturbing the idea of Russell Crowe playing the role originated by Marlon Brando at age 54 in 1978's Superman. Crowe, 47, is in talks to play opposite Superman Henry Cavill as his beloved father Jor-El in Man of Steel, reports Variety. Of course this will give Crowe a handsome payday. Maybe it's the similarities between the troubled Brando and Crowe that worry me. Both are fine actors with inflated egos and a weight problem who have walked dangerously close to identifying with their leading roles. Keeping track of who you are as a human being and who you are as a movie star is half the battle in maintaining career longevity.
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Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood

I find disturbing the idea of Russell Crowe playing the role originated by Marlon Brando at age 54 in 1978's Superman. Crowe, 47, is in talks to play opposite Superman Henry Cavill as his beloved father Jor-El in Man of Steel, reports Variety. Of course this will give Crowe a handsome payday. Maybe it's the similarities between the troubled Brando and Crowe that worry me. Both are fine actors with inflated egos and a weight problem who have walked dangerously close to identifying with their leading roles. Keeping track of who you are as a human being and who you are as a movie star is half the battle in maintaining career longevity.

I'm sure Crowe will do fine in a role, written by David Goyer, that will barely tax his skills. That's what worries me. Coming up is another studio project shot in China, Universal actioner The Man With the Iron Fists. I'd rather see him dig into playing Richard Burton or some deeper psychological story on a smaller scale, with a David Cronenberg or Paul Thomas Anderson, assuming he was willing to defer to them. Producer Chris Nolan and director Zack Snyder will only have to manage the demanding Aussie thespian for a short time.

Thompson on Hollywood

Crowe joins Cavill, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Michael Shannon. Charles Roven and Emma Thomas will produce with Nolan and Deborah Snyder.

At least Warners decided not to reuse the same old Jor-El footage, see below.

This article is related to: Directors, Franchises, Genres, Headliners, Studios, Video, In Production, Chris Nolan, Superman, Sci-fi, Sequel, Comics, Russell Crowe, Warner Bros./New Line


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.