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30 Actors Who Almost Played Superman

Joe Manganiello

Who They Missed Out To: True Blood , if we’re getting technical. The way Manganiello tells it, the role was his, but his True Blood schedule made it impossible.

“There wasn’t anything I could do with Superman,” he told Ain’t It Cool News last year. “There was interest from every single possible angle on that project, and the reason they were interested was because of True Blood.

“From the director, to casting, to the producers involved, it was all because of True Blood , that was why I was in the running. And at the end of the day, it was True Blood ’s schedule that kept me from doing it.”

If They Had Got It: Clark Kent would have been topless. A lot.

Seriously, have you ever Googled Manganiello? It’s impossible to find an image of him with his top on.

Zac Efron

Who They Missed Out To: Brandon Routh. Efron was apparently up for the role in Bryan Singer’s film, but turned it down – on advice from Leonardo DiCaprio.

According to website The Examiner , a source claims that DiCaprio advised Efron against playing the Man of Steel. The young High School Musical star was “unsure whether accepting the role in the franchise would be best for him”.

If They Had Got It: It would have resembled TV series Smallville , given Efron’s fresh-faced appearance.

Colin O'Donoghue

Who They Missed Out To: Henry Cavill. Seems Cavill wasn’t the only actor Zack Snyder plucked from The Tudors for a Superman screen test – he’ also had his eye on O’Donoghue.

Apparently he was on the shortlist alongside Matthew Goode and Armie Hammer, but lost out to Cavill.

If They Had Got It: The film might have been shot in Ireland - that's where O'Donoghue hails from, after all.

Muhammad Ali

Who They Missed Out To: Fitting, considering Ali went on to fight Superman in comic form the very same year Superman was released (in issue Superman vs Muhammad Ali).

Ali was considered very briefly by Salkind, but was never approached for the role. Speaks volumes about Salkind’s open-mindedness when it came to the role.

If They Had Got It: It would’ve been very interesting – the first black Superman. That’s something we’d like to see.

Hayden Christensen

Who They Missed Out To: Nobody. There were rumours that Christensen would play Superman in a proposed Justice League movie circa 2008.

The rumours were quickly debunked by Christensen’s publicist, who simply said: “This is not true.” Close call.

If They Had Got It: We could say something mean but we won’t.

Robert Redford

Who They Missed Out To: The one-time Sundance Kid was the first actor to be offered the cape, but he turned it down.

“I don't think Redford would have seriously considered it,” Mankiewicz says.

“He might have thought about it if it had some deeper meaning.”

If They Had Got It: A Redford Superman film would probably resemble Singer's Superman Returns , which is packed with symbolism and "deeper meanings".

Al Pacino

Who They Missed Out To: Christopher Reeve.

Pacino was just one of the string of actors that producer Ila Salkind considered for the 1978 Superman – perhaps because Pacino had already worked with Marlon Brando on The Godfather. He didn’t get the part.

If They Had Got It: Clark Kent would’ve been more rasping sleuth than bumbling good-heart.

Clint Eastwood

Who They Missed Out To: Christopher Reeve.

Though he was briefly considered, Eastwood declined the role, citing “scheduling conflicts” as his reason for being unable to take on the role.

If They Had Got It: Superman would have been equipped with a gun and a fedora.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Who They Missed Out To: Christopher Reeve, something that must have irked the former Mr Universe – especially considering Reeve was considered a “bean pole” in shape, as compared to Arnie’s carefully-honed physique.

Arnie campaigned hard for the role, but he was ditched.

"When I met [ Arnold ] at the premiere of the first film, he said 'Ahhh I should've been Superman'," Salkind remembers. "With that accent... not too good."

If They Had Got It: They’d have blown have the film's budget buying fabric to cover up those ginormous muscles.

Nicolas Cage

Who They Missed Out To: Well, nobody, because Cage’s almost-Superman film, Superman Lives with Tim Burton, was ditched entirely by Warner Bros. He got far enough to try on a prototype suit though.

“I do think that I had a win-win situation because that character is such a bullseye that you have to hit,” Cage said recently. “He's one of the most precious icons of our country.

“The fact that Tim and I were pretty far down the road designing the film, and I know that with Tim, and where I was going to go, we would have done something really special.”

If They Had Got It: It would have been the weirdest Superman yet – not least because Kevin Smith’s script had Superman fighting a giant spider.