EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros, producer Chris Nolan, and director Zack Snyder have begun to cast a “wide net” to find the next Man of Steel. Insiders tell us the studio is open to creating a star as it reboots the Superman franchise: specifically, that the actor will either be a discovery or on TV but likely someone who isn’t well known yet. And he’ll be in the age range of 28-to-32. The studio expects to look at hundreds of young actors before making a decision. Agents who are readying candidates note that hiring an established series regular might not even be possible. The film will likely begin production around next June, and that shooting schedule could wreak havoc with fall prime time schedules. The studio has to meet that production start date because some of the rights are in jeopardy in 2013.
The Superman search will likely take time to play out, as did the hunt for the new Spider-Man which went to Andrew Garfield. There will be inevitable buzz on actors like Armie Hammer, the strapping 6’5″ actor who played Cameron. And Tyler Winklevoss in The Social Network and who was eyed by the studio to play Batman in a Justice League movie that Mad Max helmer George Miller was poised to direct until the film got scrapped. But Hammer is only 24. The studio could go the TV route with True Blood’s Joe Manganiello, who claimed during a recent movie junket that he’s being considered and is certainly a strapping 34-year old. Or an actor like Ian Somerhalder of The Vampire Diaries, who is turning 32 and listed at 5’9+”.
Warner Bros is producing with Legendary Pictures. Nolan and David S. Goyer hatched the story, and Goyer is honing his script with Snyder. Nolan and his partner Emma Thomas are producing with Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder, while co-financier Legendary Pictures’ Thomas Tull is executive producer.
While the Batman films have been populated by established stars Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and now Christian Bale, Superman has always lent itself to discoveries. Christopher Reeve was a find in the Salkind franchise, as was Brandon Routh in the Bryan Singer-directed Superman Returns. (Before Routh got the job, Matt Bomer was eyed seriously by almost-directors McG and Brett Ratner.) Even on the small screen, the original Superman TV series star George Reeves and Smallville’s Tom Welling and Lois & Clark‘s Dean Cain were discoveries. The lone exception we can recall was the time that Tim Burton tried to put together a Superman film with Nicolas Cage, an effort that failed because the budget became so high. And then Josh Hartnett was courted during the Ratner version (that got scrapped when Singer took over), but Hartnett didn’t take the role, even though he stood to potentially make $100 million for three pictures if all had been made. Trust us, the new guy is going to get hired on the cheap.