Though Russell Crowe is no stranger to beefing up for a role, it had been some time since he had to do so before he agreed to portray Superman’s Kryptonian father Jor-El in Man of Steel. Crowe is following in the footsteps of Marlon Brando, who played Jor-El in 1978’s Superman (and again nearly thirty years later in Superman Returns, which featured unused footage from the original). However, Crowe didn’t realize that he would have to be in nearly as great shape as Henry Cavill, who plays his grown-up son Superman.
Crowe explains to Access Hollywood, “It was massive. It was probably not since Cinderella Man, and prior to that, Gladiator, I suppose. It was really intense.”
He adds, “When I signed on… well, one, I didn’t realize that I would be wearing spandex — ’cause you know that’s Superman’s costume — I didn’t realize that I’d have to fit into it as well. But, I also didn’t realize the type of organizer that [director] Zack Snyder is, ’cause this was really old school prep. This is sort of [Lawrence of Arabia director] David Lean level preparation, and I really appreciated him. And I was on the movie for three-and-a-half or four months before I even got in front of the camera.”
Over a decade ago Crowe passed on playing Wolverine, a role which went to Crowe’s friend and fellow Australian Hugh Jackman. So why did he change his mind on starring in a comic book movie? Crowe points to his kids, saying, “I’m a dad. I got two boys — 9 and 6, so you know, I could kind of feel it happening while I was reading the script for the first time, where it’s like, ‘OK, this is getting me on a different level.’ Because I wasn’t necessarily inclined to do a cartoon movie. But, I don’t think this is. I think this steps way beyond that.”