Although many’s first glimpse or memory of Superman was Christopher Reeve, mine was Dean Cain. As a 90’s baby, I used to watch Lois & Clark with my Granddad, and essentially that was the gateway into my love for the character. Since then, he has done over a hundred films, and TV programmes including appearances in Smallville and Supergirl, but is still extremely proud to be part of the Superman legacy – and rightfully so!
I was lucky enough to meet him in London at the Showmasters London Film & Comic Con and he was lovely! Usually when you get autographs at conventions, it’s a quick squiggle and you’re out, but Dean took the time to talk to all of his fans for a while. And now, he has taken the time to talk to me about what it was like to be Superman, what he thinks of the recent Superman portrayals and what he is up to now! I am personally taking this as an opportunity to push for a Lois & Clark re-boot! He’s up for it!
How did it feel to get the call to say that you had been successful for a role as Superman?
Getting the call saying, “you’ve got the job” blew my mind! I remember it so very well! I was at my friend’s office, and as soon as they told me, I screamed out “Yeah!!!” All my friends were shocked. I remember feeling a bit numb, like after making a spectacular play on the football field. Things just slow down, and it’s a moment you never forget.
Were you a fan of the character prior to being linked to it?
I had always liked Superman more than the other superhero characters I had known as a kid. I really wasn’t into comic books, but my brother and I did love watching SUPERFRIENDS, the cartoon. He always wanted to be Aquaman, and I chose Superman. I was lucky enough to portray my choice. My brother never made it to Aquaman!
It’s quite often we see actors reading comic books and watching previous films of a character to get ready for a film or TV series. How did you prepare?
I didn’t prepare for the role by watching or reading anything other than the script. I had definitely seen the Christopher Reeve movies, and was familiar with the George Reeves television show, but those two sources seemed different than what Deborah Joy Levine had put on the page. The story was different. Clark was the main character, and Superman was the disguise. It was a brilliant twist, in my opinion. As time went on, I realized, however that I played my Clark much closer to that of George Reeves, and my Superman closer to version of Christopher Reeve. So I would say that I “borrowed” a little from both performances.
Did you get your own creative input on your take on Superman or were you heavily influenced by the producers?
Every actor puts their own touches on any character they play. Especially a character on a series that you play for several years. I was really fortunate to have Robert Butler as the director and Executive Producer. He’s a legend, and he knew how young and inexperienced I was when the show started. He helped me “discover” that character of Clark by finding things in my own life – my experiences as an accomplished athlete, a top-notch student, etc… He helped me understand how I could bring in my own life experiences, and who I was, into playing the character of Clark.
Did you have to go through any physical training to prepare for your role?
I was pretty skinny when the show first started, so they wanted me to bulk up. I was happy to do so, but there wasn’t a gym on the Warner Brothers lot at that time. We had a tiny trailer outfitted with weights, and I would try to get a workout in between scenes. We basically lived on the lot at Warner Brothers, so I was trying to steal workouts all the time. I wish they had made it part of my daily schedule, and actually scheduled it in. That would have been like a dream! They said they couldn’t because it would set a precedent that all the other actors would ask for. My response was, “so?” Do they have to play Superman? I did NOT win that fight!
How did it feel to put on the costume for the first time?
The first time I put the costume on, it was scary. Terrifying. It was basically just a Lycra jumpsuit. I liked the color. but I was nervous. It wasn’t until they slapped the “S” on the chest that I smiled out of happiness rather than fear. By the end of the show, I was so comfortable wearing the costume, I could have gone to dinner and felt perfectly comfortable (which is scary!)!
Although they are both the same character, which did you prefer to portray? Superman or Clark Kent?
I much preferred to play Clark over Superman, because in Lois and Clark, Clark was the real character – the real identity. Superman was the disguise. Clark was the man. Superman was the man of action. There was a quote in the show that sums it up pretty well. It went something like this, “Superman is what I can do. Clark is who I am.”
Clearly there are many pro’s about playing Superman, but have you experienced any challenges from it?
I began my career as an athlete, and I still love to compete in many athletic events. Any time I compete in ANYTHING, the smack-talk is always about Superman! I encourage it! Like a badge of honor- Many people have spoken about being typecast, but I haven’t found that to be a problem. I’ve done over 100 films since then, and don’t feel typecast at all. That being said, 9 times out of 10, when someone stops me in public, there is a Superman reference!
Since then you have also been in both Smallville and Supergirl. Did you approach them or did they approach you?
Both Smallville and Supergirl approached me, and I’m glad they did! I enjoyed working on both shows, and remaining a part of the Superman mythos.
Are there any plans for your character to return to Supergirl?
Well, Dr. Jeremiah Danvers is still alive, that’s for sure! I know that I’d like to see what has happened to him – I find it very annoying, as a fan, when story-lines aren’t resolved.
Do you plan on making any more cameos in upcoming Superhero projects?
No current plans, but if Ryan Reynolds calls for Deadpool, I’m in! Or Guardians of the Galaxy! I’m a big fan of both franchises, even if they are Marvel and not DC. Also, if Gal Gadot calls, I’ll certainly make myself available.
Do you still stay up to date with what is happening with Superman in the world? TV series, films, comic books or similar?
It’s tough to stay abreast of all the different iterations of Superman with the many versions in the comics and on television and in the movies, but lovely folks, and fans, and journalists like you help keep me in the know.
How do you think the character has evolved since your Superman?
Some might argue that the character has devolved.
What makes you think that?
For Superman to be so dark and conflicted and to kill people, and not seem to be concerned about the killing of human beings (ie. the buildings he smashes during the fight with the other Kryptonian) could certainly be seen as devolving. The Superman that i knew would sooner lose his own life than allow the life a human being to be taken. His inherent goodness is actually his biggest weakness.
Have you seen Man of Steel / Batman V Superman / Justice League? What do you think of those films and their portrayal of Superman?
These last few films have not been my favourite. I think Henry Cavill has done a nice job with Superman, but it’s the dark world and the angst and the lack humor and romance that has me scratching my head. That world has nothing to do with the actor. I think Superman is a character of light, and hope, and kindness, and positivity. That dark world is Batman’s world, and to me, Superman seems a bit out of place in that darkness. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future, and whether or not Henry continues to play the role.
Superman has recently celebrated his 80th anniversary, why do you think the character has been and still is so successful?
I think Superman will always be a beloved and respected character exactly for the reasons I stated above. Superman is hope, and kindness, and light, and positivity. Superman is the most moral and decent Superhero of them all, and he does it with a smile and a wry sense of humor. And he looks great for 80!
Would you like to see Lois & Clark revived? Did you ever come up with any ideas on how to build the story even further?
I would love to catch-up with Lois and Clark 20 some-odd years later! We ended the series without really having an ending, because we were scheduled and picked-up for a 5th season. Teri’s pregnancy threw a wrench into that idea, so the show ended after season 4 with no real ending. I would love to see where they are nowadays, how their relationship has progressed, and what their world is like. Are they still madly in love? (yes) Do they have kids? (yes) Are their careers different? (yes) Has parenthood changed their relationship? (yes). Obviously I was a writer on the show, so I have a whole slew of ideas!
Your chemistry with Teri Hatcher has always been commented on, and to some it was a huge selling point of Lois & Clark – are you still in touch now?
I think the romance between Lois and Clark was the key to the show. Chemistry is an elusive thing, and no one is ever completely sure if chemistry between two characters will jump off the screen. Fortunately for us, the chemistry was there, and it helped made the show a success. Teri and I are definitely in touch, and I think we’d both be open to catching up with those characters!
Lois Lane has just been announced for the latest Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl. Who would you like to see cast?
Literally no idea. I understand they just cast a young lady, and I wish her the best. But I will say that I think Teri Hatcher’s version of Lois Lane was the best I’ve ever seen.
You attend a fair amount of conventions whereby your fans can come to meet you, get photos and autographs. From personal experience I have seen how popular you are among fans at those conventions. How does it feel to still be representing such an iconic character? And what does it mean to you to do those kinds of events?
Conventions are extremely unique, and I only discovered them about 5 years ago. When you’re filming a series, it’s just the actors and the crew toiling away for 12-20 hours a day (our longest filming day was 22 hours). You never have a chance to get fan reaction, or personally hear from the fans, as you’re always working. My favourite thing about attending the conventions is the stories people share with me about how the show affected their lives. How a Grandmother and a grandchild would bond while watching together; how parents would negotiate with their children to let them stay up late on Sunday nights to watch the show if they just finished their homework first; how the show helped someone deal with bullying in high school. I hear so many personal stories at the conventions, and it is really gratifying to know that the show touched so many lives. It’s awesome to hear those personal stories!
Are there any conventions that you are planning to attend in the future?
Conventions happen all over the world, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to travel, and meet people from different countries. I’ll be headed to Paris in October, and Australia (Adelaide and Brisbane) in November. My son is thinking about attending university in Australia, so we’ll use this trip as a work/study/explore/play opportunity!
Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
The feature film, GOSNELL premiers nationwide in the USA on October 12. It’s a pretty tough story about an abortion clinic doctor who performed probably hundred and hundreds of late-term abortions (illegally), and the police officers and prosecutors who investigated him, and held him accountable. He is currently serving 3 life sentences for murder, and an additional manslaughter charge in the death of a female patient. The case didn’t get much media attention in the United States, and that is another part of the story that was pretty unbelievable.
Thank you Dean, for taking the time to do this interview with me!
My pleasure, Tasmin! Great to meet you in London, and thanks for your clear expertise in the world of Superman!!