‘Man of Steel’: Laurence Fishburne will be Perry White

Aug. 02, 2011 | 6:49 p.m.
fishburne Man of Steel: Laurence Fishburne will be Perry White

Laurence Fishburne (Joshua Roberts / For the Times)

This post has been corrected. Please see the note at the bottom for details.

Laurence Fishburne is going to Metropolis. The Oscar-nominated actor will join the cast of “Man of Steel” in the role of Perry White, the abrasive, ever-ethical old-school newsman who lords over the newsroom of the Daily Planet.

superman gallery2 Man of Steel: Laurence Fishburne will be Perry White

Fishburne is the first African American to take on the role in any of the many film, television and cartoon versions of Superman’s adventures. Last year was the 70th anniversary of the newsroom character, who first appeared on “The Adventures of Superman” radio serial and then a few months later made his on-the-page box in the seventh issue of “Superman.”

Fishburne, whose credits include “The Matrix,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Mystic River,”  has just left the cast of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” after just 2½ seasons as Dr. Raymond Langston. He celebrated his 50th birthday last week and will soon be on his way to the Venice Film festival for “Contagion,” the Steven Soderbergh pandemic thriller that also stars Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet and Jude Law.

“Man of Steel,” now scheduled for 2013, will be directed by Zack Snyder and the producing team includes Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas from the Gotham City films that many observers  rank as the pinnacle of superhero cinema. Henry Cavill will play Superman and Amy Adams will star as Lois Lane. The other stars include Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and Diane Lane as Martha Kent.

Jackie Cooper portrayed White in Richard Donner’s  “Superman” in 1978 and also in three of its sequels. Frank Langella took on the role in “Superman Returns” in 2006. In the 1950s, John Hamilton memorably played the crusty White on television and radio — and his exasperated shouts of “Great Caesar’s ghost!” and “Don’t call me ‘chief’!” became trademark lines that would find their way into the comic book portrayals of White as well.

[For the record: Diane Lane was misidentified in an earlier version of this post.]

— Geoff Boucher


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41 Responses to ‘Man of Steel’: Laurence Fishburne will be Perry White

  1. Glen says:

    Laurence Fishburne asPerry White?!? I hope Mr. Fishburne learns to develop something other than a snarl or an angry growl if he's going to play Perry White. This NOT his forte.
    I'm all for color-blindness, but why must EVERY role ignore classic comic books? Granted, there were absolutely NO black people in Superboy (which I started reading in 1961), but frankly, I'd just as soon they get someone whose persona actually resembles Perry White (who's White).
    I was annoyed enough that Pete Ross was black in Smallville, since Pete was a redhead, but I suppose this tiresome political correctness thing must have its day. Frankly, I'd just as soon Pete stay a redhead, but that's long gone, as is the readership that actually remembers anything about Perry White.
    Langella was pretty decent, Jackie Cooper was so-so, and Hamilton was simply a caricature — but then, at that time, the show, which was pretty frightful, was a complete caricature of the comics.
    Carroll O'Connor would be fine — if he was still alive.
    Given all that, I'll see the movie unless it gets hammered by critics who actually KNOW something about the characters. Brandon Routh, in my opinion , was a highly noble Man of Steel, while I have yet to see a Lois Lane who actually behaves like Lois Lane. Margot Kidder wasn't even close to Lois Lane, nor was Kate Bosworth remotely strong enough to be Lois.
    Oh well, on with the show, but it better be good. Real good.

    • Rodney says:

      Pete Ross was blonde and Lana wast the redhead [said in comic-book guy's voice].Still Kristen was hot so no big right? Btw Perry was never a drunk washed-up reporter in the comics like he was on Smallville, but since he's white it was okay? If Fishburne portrays Perry's personality as an honest, tough as nails editor I'm cool. Oh and Perry's adopted son in the comics is black. Maybe the can cast one of those kids from the Disney Channel to play the role in the movie. tick for tat.

    • TeeRoe says:

      Sounds like Glen has some deep-seated racial issues he needs to deal with. Dude… it's a fu*king comic book movie. Duh!

    • Robert says:

      Glen, since you don't like who they cast as any of your beloved, remembered characters anyway, why would Fish being Black make any difference to you one way or another? Unless its the fact that he's Black that makes a difference?

      BTW, saying someone should be red head, is the same as saying they should be white, which is a racist thing to say about an entirely fictional character.

  2. Mr.X says:

    There they going again messing everything up!

    • evanation says:

      messing up how? well, i get that in your view it could mess things up.
      in my personal opinion, i don't mind the race of characters to be changed if the character wasn't anything special to begin with.
      i'm a huge superman fan and Perry White has pretty much generally been there as just the editor of the bugle. he's not like j. jonah jameson who really had a real roll in the spider-man story.

  3. Opticon180 says:

    Challenging role for Laurence, but I have no doubt he's up to the task…Fishburne has come a long way since his big screen debut in "Cornbread, Earl & Me".

  4. sonia says:

    Just when you thing this movie can't get any worse, Hack Snyder finds a way.

  5. paul says:

    This movie sounds truly terrible to me.

  6. JacobK says:

    I am very upset with Cavill. We were promised "No more SWIMMER'S BODY SUPERMAN"!
    But then we were also promised No Zod, and we see how that turned out. Lies just fall from Zack Snyder's lips in an endless river.

    Cavill looks PATHETIC next to Hemsworth and Evans and Jackman.

  7. wax says:

    Who cares who Perry White is when Superman is a disaster??
    Henry Cavill is the same in every performance: Petrified Wood. Immortals looks like more of the same wretched acting from him.

  8. Olden Atwoody says:

    I’m sorry – I like Fishburne, but this is PC racism. Perry White was a white curmudgeon from day one.

    What next, casting Jerry Sienfeld as Fred Sanford? Oy!

  9. Atomic Kommie Comics says:

    Fishburne has the gravitas (and booming voice) to play the authority figure Perry White is supposed to be.
    Presumably, they'll grey his temples a bit to make him look older.
    Just don't have him mutter "Great Caesar's Ghost"!

  10. Daniel C. says:

    Some comic book characters can be successfully interpreted by actors of different races (e.g., the Kingpin in the Daredevil movie), but I strongly doubt that Perry White is one of them. His traits are heavily informed by mid-twentieth century white Midwest/Northeast culture, and it would look inauthentic if a black actor tried to convey these traits. I suspect Fishburne will have to substantially reinvent the role, so that he is Perry White in name only, no doubt angering the comic book crowd.

  11. Letsbereasonable says:

    These comments are ridiculous. Did you people have a problem with Tom Cruise being "The Last Samurai?" Did you have a problem with Tarzan being "Lord of the Jungle?" This movie is a re-imagining of Superman, and I for one am glad that they are shaking things up. Something needs to be done to breathe new life into the franchise. Look at what Abrams did from the Star Trek franchise, he completely recreated it and it was a tremendous success. So far the movie sounds like it is going to be solid; don't kill it before you see it.

    • Big_Cadillac says:

      Cognitive thinking….look into it.

    • RobinNJ says:

      re-imagined star trek? the last time i watched it, capt. kirk was white, spock was still white, and uhura was not white? although, the sulu was a korean actor playing a japanese (of which i am sure some japanese fans would point that out and be upset) so there was NO re-imagining of Star Trek. It was THE only possilbe way to re-ignite the franchise by telling us the "origin" story, so to speak and finally show us how Kirk had cheated on the test…..!

  12. Letsbereasonable says:

    These comments are ridiculous. Did you people have a problem with Tom Cruise being "The Last Samurai?" Did you have a problem with Tarzan being "Lord of the Jungle?" This movie is a re-imagining of Superman

    • Boss Jock Spydee says:

      Superman doesn't need "re-imaging." He needs to be under the supervision of people who can tell a great story without reinventing the wheel!

  13. Alec Whispers says:

    I'm all for color-blindness, but why must EVERY role ignore classic comic books?

    One role in the Superman movies and three in the Marvel Universe, of very minor characters, is not every role. Apparently, you are not for color blindness or you wouldn't be whining.

  14. Boss Jock Spydee says:

    I smell an ‘Ultimates Nick Fury’ moment here & another ‘Green Lantern’ in the making. Make Mine Marvel!

  15. Mr. E says:

    I don't care about any of this stuff about Perry White.

    Who's the villain for this movie & who's playing it?

    • CrackerJack says:

      Rehased Zod is the villain with his two sidekicks. Yeah, you heard right. WB and the hackmeister want to kill us with boredom.

  16. The Speechless Gab Dork says:

    Pete Ross, Steel, Richard Pryor were African Americans in the Superman universe

  17. Alec Whispers says:

    I'm all for color-blindness, but why must EVERY role ignore classic comic books?

    IIRC, Clark Kent is still played by a White guy as well as all the other characters from the print version of Superman. The Amazing Spider Man stars a White guy as well as Green Lantern, Batman, Thor, Captain America, ….. You get the point.

    I think White people have awhile to go before you have no costumed heroes to emulate.

  18. 343 Spark says:

    Skin tight blue suit with bright red underwear on the outside, brigt red boots and a bright red cape almost to the ground; Superman's classic look is hideous and is the biggest thing that needs "re-imagining" in my opinion.

  19. Glen says:

    For your information, I'm a Black, 60 year old man. Don't make presumptions that anyone who makes the comments I did is White.

    And "dude", not everything can be changed without changing the tenor of a character. As Daniel C. pointed out, certain traits and habits are informed by one's ethnic background and don't translate well, although I imagine that Perry will be a "colorless" character and therefore lacking in the persona of the Perry White of the comics. Perhaps for you, as the younger person you undoubtedly are, changing someone is just part of "comic book movies." Myself, I'd prefer some authenticity. I wasn't keen on Pete Ross being Black, nor of Richard Pryor's character

    And as for the comment about Tom Cruise, it was an ironic comparison, not a literal one. He was not the last of the Samurai, simply the last of that group of Samurai. And Tarzan?? You're kidding, right? RIGHT??????
    Have you even READ Edgar Rice Burroughs? Tarzan was white, raised in the jungle by apes after a plane crash. NOTHING was changed about Tarzan. Learn your history, child, before you make a comment.
    My point is that Fishburne is the antithesis, in his acting persona, of Perry White: depressed, angry, lacking the fire of life that Perry White has always had. If he plays Perry well, that's fine, but I wonder if Snyder's "re-imagining" includes a philosophical pc neutering of color by showing he's color-blind to whoever plays Perry White.
    However, I agree with the writer who says, lets wait and see. It may be a good movie and it's fair to remind us all of that. I don't know Cavill, so I haven't commented on him. However, I hope Lois Lane doesn't turn out to be some glamour-puss who was hired to give the female role "sex appeal." Kate Bosworth was no Lois Lane, not the Lois who has evolved over the last 73 years that Superman has been in print, anyway. Lois Lane of Superman comics would have kicked Lex Luthor's henchman's butt, not crawled away from him with a terrified look on her face. And then, when they lock her and her son in the pantry (this is Superman Returns I'm speaking of), she pounds on the door saying, "Open this door!!!" Of course: a murdering crook is actually going to open the door because she pounds on it. Yes, completely logical That scene was simply stupidity incarnate.

    I'm all for the world being taken over by the younger generation, but please, learn your history FIRST, before you decide to re-write it, ok? There's a quote by George Santayana: " Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." In other words, know what came before you, and THEN do not make the same mistakes.

    I don't mind a logical argument, but spare me the uninformed opinions.

    • nmk says:

      <<Have you even READ Edgar Rice Burroughs? Tarzan was white, raised in the ****** by apes after a plane crash.>>

      Tarzan of the Apes, published 1912, setting 1888, Parents marooned from a ship taken over by mutiny.

  20. Glen says:

    Rodney, thanks for the reminder of Pete Ross being the blonde.
    However, Perry White's black son didn't show up until what, the late 80s? I don't remember exactly when it was he showed up, but I'm clear it wasn't until Superman was at LEAST a 40-year old comic book. It would be hard to not see this as the writers' way of showing Perry White was no bigot, but that's a bit late in the history of the comic books. I'm hardly cynical, but this was a deliberate move, in the same way that on tv, every truly "good" white person has a best friend who's Black. IN movies, Blacks are – and have always been – bonded to the anti-hero (Clark Gable, for one) to show that whoever it is that they "adopt" (or more likely, serve, as in Gone With The Wind) as a friend is a person who is, however dubious they appear to be, is, in the end, a person of fortitude, and, in the end, someone who can be "redeemed."

  21. Dickens says:

    Honestly, this is exciting cause now I'm not sure what to expect. All I know is Fishburne is an awesome actor, and he'll be able to leave his mark on the character if the director and editor does him justice.

  22. Imperial I says:

    Its done and im kool but stop changing theoriginal comics tweak it dont change it plus there’s plenty of heroes and villians for black actors and room for new ones As far as Hollywood goes they flips things from books to movies sometimes they work others No still Michael Clarke Duncan was good as the kingpin Keanu Reeves in will Smith’s role as Neo was great and look at Mr Fox from Batman didn’t u get the memo? Just keep our fingers crossed and hope somebody gets it right!!!

  23. Bobby says:

    "I'm sorry – I like Fishburne, but this is PC racism."

    No it's not. They just chose the actor whom they think is the best fit for that role which I don't even agree with. Loud, obnoxious, cigar munching angry boss does not scream Laurence Fishburne to me. It's not a bad casting choice because of the different skin color, it's bad a casting choice because the actor's style does not match the character.

  24. Glen says:

    I would agree, Bobby. After all, the man who played J'onn Jonzz (I misspelled that) on Smallville had the necessary demeanor to play the comic book character from Mars, and his color did not even factor in when I was watching it, as the actor had the "persona" of Jonn Jonzz, who've I've read for about 45 years or so. The actor's color was invisible within the traits of the character. Fishburne had better be able to do the same thing, but I wonder if he has the ability to do that.
    On the other hand — and it just occurred to me — he was in a tv movie about a girl who wanted to win a spelling bee. I have to admit I was surprised to see him in such a role, but maybe I'm being too hard on him, although I would prefer that Perry White STAY White, just as it is unlikely they'll choose a black actor for Superman any time soon.

  25. Laura says:

    I'll say this first, I have no read the superman comics before, though I have read up on them and the history of the storylines and such, but I am no expert. Most of my extent knowledge of Superman, is from the underated televsion series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman which ran from 93-97, with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher and Smallville.

    Now In my opinion those two shows did great jobs with re telling the Superman story, Smallville obviously in a pre superman story, and with Lois and Clark, telling it from a different decide than just the hero.

    After watching Superman Returns, I was disappointed with the storyline and most of all the casting…the worst Lex Luthor ever! and Don't even get me started on Kate Bosworth for Lois Lane, with that cast Superman Returns never had any hope.

    I'll watch this movie, give it a chance, but I am not expecting any special, because again I see the storyline going at it as Superman, not Clark Kent as Superman.

    When we watched Spiderman we saw Peter Parker become Spiderman, we saw Peter Parker as Spiderman, not the other way around.

    To get back to the original topic though, I agree that Laurence Fishburn is just not the correct person for this role. I am not a racial person, but I honestly believe this part should've been left alone.

    To be frank, I think they have a lot of big name actors and the storyline is going to be crap again. I'll keep a open mind though, but being a female, I am big on the romance between Lois Lane and Clark Kent, so if the role of Clark Kent is diminished in this movie as it was Superman Returns, it'll be real upsetting.

    Lane Smith (Lois and Clark: New Adventures of Superman) was the best Perry White in my book, as I wasn't to crazy about the Perry White in Smallville either…

    Here's to Hoping that Man of Steel won't be a bust.

    • Confused says:

      Laura, lets clarify something. Clark Kent is Superman's disguise, Spiderman is Peter Parker's disguise. I assume you don't understand what that means, so I'll let someone else who enjoy these comics explain that to you.

  26. Glen says:

    I'm curious:
    What was it about Kevin Spacey you didn't like? I thought Gene Hackman was completely campy as Lex Luthor and not remotely credible. Kevin Spacey portrayed Luthor's utter coldness about the value of human life. Is this about Luthor or about Kevin Spacey, because I can't imagine that, aside from casting Anthony Hopkins as Luthor (Hopkins is a very chilly person, which is why he never plays romantic leads: that would require a display of lovingness, not one of Hopkins' strong suites), that anyone else would be a better Luthor.
    It seems they're casting Amy Adams as Lois, and she's a fine actress. She has great range, and I can see her as the tough, focused, but loving persona of Lois Lane. That is good casting. I can't speak for others, although I thought using veteran actress Eva Marie Saint as Ma Kent was very good casting as well. Cavill will have to be VERY good to keep up with Amy Adams as Lois, because that woman can ACT.
    I'm just curious about how you see it.

    • mike says:

      Not one of those actors played a good Lex as the cartoon character and comic book. The one from smallville was cool but a younger version. I like Lex on Justice League…he’s a rip. Love his persona. Clark on the other hand is a wuss on the show. They need some black characters in that movie. Enough of the white-out…pu some ink in it…

  27. Glen says:

    And speaking of using a Black actor for Superman, it would seem I was correct in my analysis. I see theyr'e going to use a half Black-Half Latino actor for the new Spiderman (it's a parallel universe-type scenario) and people are livid that he's Black. I have to smile at that: it's hard to change a character's ethnicity and expect people to embrace it — frequently, even before we've SEEN the movie, as I was displeased with Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, although part of that is that Fishburne is a rather cold-appearing person. Perry White's more gruff, but understanding as well, and he has had a happy marriage to his wife. I can't imagine Fishburne being happy with anyone. But again, I haven't seen the movie, and I WILL go see it, just because 1), it's Superman and I won't dismiss things out of hand until I see the product. (Thor and Green Lantern are exceptions to the rule, because, after seeing the trailers online, I know that Green Lantern was never as childish as the writers wrote Ryan Reynolds' character to be, and 2), Thor doing a grab-the-pipe-above-him-and-doing a double kick to take out two men??? C'mon, Thor would've backhanded them. Period.)

  28. doves&hawks designs says:

    PLEASE Michelle Rodriguez as LOIS LANE!!!!

    OR ROSARIO DAWSON!!!! Yah, I'd go see that. Along with a huge BROWN population. WHAT? I said IT!!

  29. Silvio says:

    To Snyder don't listen to Morrison, he's screwed up the DC line beyond imagining. Superman is not a brawler he is a boyscout. The trick is not to overdo the the boyscout or the brawler. Don't make it dark it goes against the character mythos. It can be gritty, but not too much so. You need a model then use George Reeves portrayal in Superman vs the Mole Men as a guide. That was perfect temperment for Superman.

  30. Marsha says:

    Fishburne a great actor.

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