Brendan Fraser Says ‘Studio Politics’ Cost Him J.J. Abrams’ ‘Superman’ Adaptation, Doesn’t Begrudge It: ‘I’m Not a One-Trick Pony’

Fraser discussed his screen test for the role with Howard Stern

Brendan Fraser
Chad Griffith/A24 Films

Brendan Fraser opened up about how he almost played Superman back when J.J. Abrams was in charge of the franchise.

The actor, who has most recently starred in – and is Oscar nominated for – “The Whale,” appeared on “The Howard Stern Show,” where the host asked him about the role.

“Is the role that got away from you, when you were gonna be cast as Superman. I think it’s when J.J. Abrams was in charge of the ‘Superman’ franchise, someone had approached you about being Superman, and then suddenly it was taken away from you,” Stern said. “Is that correct?”

“Everyone in town was reading for Superman,” Fraser said. “They were testing I think maybe six or seven guys in 2002.”

Fraser named Paul Walker as someone that tested before him along with “the usual suspects.” 

“Of course it’s a life-changing, amazing opportunity, but I had to reconcile with, ‘OK, say you do get the job to be the Man of Steel. It’s going to be chipped on your gravestone. Are you OK with that? You will forevermore be known as the Man of Steel,’” Fraser remembered thinking. “There was a sort of Faustian bargain that went into [the] feeling, and I think inherently I didn’t want to be known for only one thing, because I prided myself on diversity my whole professional life. I’m not a one-trick pony.”

Stern asked Fraser how disappointed he was when he didn’t get the role.

“I felt disappointed that there was an amazing opportunity and it didn’t come to fruition,” Fraser said. “It had to do a lot with some shenanigans and studio politics. And probably, inherently, in my screen test. I think that’s why you test … They could kind of see I was only there, like, 98%.”

Stern finished the thought by saying, “Maybe you were there 98% because … you weren’t fully committed to that Superman role.” 

“Exactly,” Fraser responded emphatically.

Watch a clip from the interview below.