Also Credited As:BJ Routh, Brandon James Routh
|Brandon James Routh on October 9, 1979 in Des Moines, Iowa, USA|
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Born Oct. 9, 1979, in Des Moines, IA, Routh was raised in nearby Norwalk - about 100 miles south of Woolstock, the hometown of TV's original "Superman," George Reeves - by his father, Ron, a carpenter and part-time jazz drummer and his mother, Katie, a teacher and part-time singer. Known to friends and family as "B.J.," young Routh delved into a myriad of activities, including playing trumpet and piano while participating in athletics, namely swimming and soccer, as well as in school theater productions. After graduating Norwalk High School, he attended the University of Iowa, where he pursued a writing career as an English major, while modeling to pay tuition and continuing to act. His eerie resemblance to another "Superman" star, Christopher Reeves, earned Routh considerable attention, leading his former manager to declare that he would some day play the part of the Man of Steel. Once he graduated from UI, Routh moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
When he reached Hollywood, Routh almost immediately landed his first professional acting gig with an episode of the short-lived sitcom, "Odd Man Out" (ABC, 1999-2000). Following his big break, the actor was cast in a four-episode arc on "Undressed" (MTV, 1999-2002), then played a mysterious boy at a Bangles concert in an episode of "Gilmore Girls" (WB/CW, 2000-07). Also at the time, Routh was featured in the music video for Christina Aguilera's "What a Girl Wants," which was followed in 2001 by a three-year contract to appear on the long-running daytime soap opera, "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968- ). But the steady work failed to last long - Routh was fired from the gig. He then signed with another agency, while taking a job bartending at a bowling alley. It took some time to get going again, but Routh did manage to restart his career after landing episodes of "Cold Case" (CBS, 2003- ), "Will & Grace" (NBC, 1998-2006) and the short-lived family comedy "Oliver Beene" (Fox, 2003-04).
Prior to Routh's casting as Superman, Warner Bros. had spent over a decade planning to relaunch the franchise, with possible stars including Nicolas Cage, Jude Law, Josh Hartnett and Brendan Fraser, as well as directors like Tim Burton, Wolfgang Peterson, McG and Brett Ratner attached to the project at various points. By the time Bryan Singer was onboard to direct, he insisted that a fresh face be cast in the part as a bow to the film's most famous Man of Steel, Christopher Reeve. Routh - who reportedly won a Hollywood Halloween costume contest in 2003 by dressing as Clark Kent with his shirt open to reveal the Superman "S" underneath - had previously auditioned for McG and was eventually tapped by Singer after extensive casting calls in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia. Impressed by his resemblance to the comic book icon and finding the actor's humble Midwestern roots a perfect fit for the hero's All-American persona, Singer anointed Routh as the next screen Superman. Within hours of the October 2004 casting announcement, Routh's name filled an endless array of Internet pages devoted to discussing his worthiness for the role. For his part, the actor kept a low profile to help build anticipation for the film.
Meanwhile, curious movie audiences got a pre-Superman introduction to Routh with his small supporting role in the low-budget thriller "Deadly" (2005), starring Laura Prepon and Misha Collins as a couple of real-life Canadian thrill-killers. Then in June 2006, the long-awaited reboot, "Superman Returns" (2006), was released to great fanfare and a round of positive critical reviews. The story focused on the Man of Steel returning to Earth after a long absence, only to find that the world has gotten used to the idea of not having him around. Once again doing battle with arch-nemesis Lex Luther (Kevin Spacey), Superman also struggles to win back the love of Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), who has found a new life with someone else (James Marsden). Though not an enormous blockbuster, "Superman Returns" earned enough box office dollars to warrant a sequel, "Superman: Man of Steel." In between the two "Superman" projects, he co-starred as the lover of a gay porn actor in "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" (2008), Kevin Smith's romantic comedy about a pair of in-debt roommates (Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks) who make an adult film to shore up some desperately needed money.