The plan is for Cryer to make his debut as Luthor in the 15th episode of the current season, which airs in early January. The series switched to Sunday nights in October when it launched its Season 4 storyline. The season’s sixth episode, titled “Call to Action,” airs Sunday.
Cryer won two Emmys for playing feckless chiropractor Alan Harper on the CBS sitcom Two and A Half Men (2003-2015). His career breakthrough, however, was way back in 1986 when he portrayed awkwardly smitten teen “Duckie” Dale in Pretty in Pink.
His other credits include Hot Shots! (1991) and Shorts (2009). Cryer recently wrapped production on the feature film Big Time Adolescence opposite Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson.
Cryer is no novice when it comes to Kryptonians and their screen exploits. That’s because after his Pretty in Pink success Cryer appeared in the 1987 film Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. The then-21-year-old actor portrayed Lenny Luthor, the dutiful nephew of Lex (Gene Hackman) who helps his uncle escape his penitentiary cellblock.
The Supergirl executive producer tandem of Robert Rovner and Jessica Queller said in a joint statement Friday that they are thrilled to have Cryer on board as a once-and-future Luthor.
“We are enormous fans of Jon Cryer, and he was instantly our dream actor to play the iconic role of Lex Luthor,” Rovner and Queller said. “Jon is a super-talent, and the fact that he played Lenny Luthor in Superman IV brings an added layer of legacy to his casting. We’re beyond thrilled to welcome Jon to the Supergirl family.”
Last month, when the Supergirl team announced they were casting the Lex Luthor role, Rovner and Queller made it clear the megalomaniacal tycoon has been on their mind since the series launched in October 2015.
“We’ve talked about having Lex on the show since its inception and we’re excited to have him finally arrive. We can’t wait for him to shake things up in National City and watch him go toe-to-toe with not only Supergirl, but his sister, Lena Luthor,” they said.
Katie McGrath portrays Lena Luthor on Supergirl, while the show’s title character is played by Melissa Benoist.
In the pages of DC comic books, Luthor dates back to April 1940. The brilliant, bad (and usually bald) archenemy of Superman made his first screen appearance In 1950 when Kirk Alyn was the Man of Steel. Lyle Talbot (later in Ed Wood’s infamously bad Plan 9 From Outer Space) played the title villain in Atom Man vs. Superman — but in the end Atom Man was revealed to be none other than Luthor in disguise.
Luthor’s signature screen moment arrived almost three decades later when it was Christopher Reeve wearing the red cape. That’s when Hackman was tapped by director Richard Donner to portray a slippery con-man version of Luthor in Superman, which was the most expensive film in history at the time of its release in December 1978.
More recent Luthors on the silver screen include Kevin Spacey (in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns in 2006) looking like a slimmed-down Daddy Warbucks; and Jesse Eisenberg (in Zack Snyder’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016) as a twitchier, savage-nerd version of the bad guy. Cryer’s casting might suggest the character will hew closer to the Eisenberg interpretation.
On television, John Shea brought a debonair flair (and a full head of hair) to the character on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in the 1990s. For the decade-long run of Smallville (2001-2011), Michael Rosenbaum portrayed Luthor as the cunning and charismatic frenemy of Tom Welling’s Clark Kent.
Supergirl airs on Sundays at 8 PM on The CW.
Cryer is represented by Forward Entertainment, UTA and attorney David Fox.