Yesterday we had a link to Chris Lee’s great (and unflinching) feature on Kevin Smith, who may have his most commercial film of his career in theaters today but is also grappling with a weight-related heath crisis. That story ran on the cover of the Los Angeles Times Calendar section; today Lee went through his notebook and pulled out some more material from the interview that will be especially interesting to the fanboy crowd.
Kevin Smith does not feel one iota of guilt about making Superman gay. That is to say, the New Jersey-born writer-director knows precisely how big a casting coup it was to land Brandon Routh — the studly star of director Bryan Singer’s 2006 Man of Steel update “Superman Returns” — to portray a closeted gay man. In Smith’s raunchy sex comedy “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” (which hits the multiplex tomorrow), Routh’s character, Bobby Long, is in a relationship with Justin Long’s flamboyant gay porn star character Brandon St. Randy. (The pair are pictured above, with Routh on the right.)
“On paper, it’s a thankless role. He’s the straight man, the set-up guy,” Smith, seated on the patio of his Hollywood Hills home last week, said of Routh. Instantly realizing his unintended pun, Smith reframed the discussion of Routh’s portrayal. “He’s a straight man playing a gay guy who’s pretending to be a straight guy in that weird ‘Victor Victoria’ way. But Brandon found a way to play him like a hen-pecked husband in a gay marriage who’s still not quite living out loud. He’s so funny. He found a way to make it more comedic than it was on the page without changing a word.”
Part way through filming in Pittsburgh last year, the auteur began conferring with “Zack and Miri” co-star Seth Rogen about who would be right to play the small but key role: the captain of the high school football team who Miri (Elizabeth Banks) attempts to seduce to humiliating effect at a high school reunion.
“Seth and I were sitting around trying to figure out who would play Bobby Long,” Smith said. “I felt it should be a real salt-of-the-earth, middle American kind of guy. Someone like Superman. And Seth’s like, ‘Brandon Routh. Let’s call him.’”
“Banks was in the room while I was having this conversation with Seth and she’s like, ‘Are you talking about Superman? My agent is his agent.’ We got him the script, he read it, dug it, came out to the set. And all props to him.”
Smith surmised that Routh used the role to upend his public persona –- and also take a poke at all those rumors about his sexual orientation that apparently came from having worked with Singer, who is openly gay. It even led to magazine covers such as the one here on the right. (Routh, by the way, married his longtime girlfriend Courtney Ford in 2007.)
“I think he saw this as the chance to make fun of the fact that people assume he must be gay because he worked with Bryan Singer or something like that,” said Smith. “He embraced it. He ran with it.”
Photo from "Zack and Miri Make a Porno." Credit: Darren Michaels / Weinstein Co.