Superman, the Inside Story

The 1978 movie Superman was a game-changer for comic book heroes on film. It was a big-budget blockbuster with next-generation special effects and Hollywood stars, whereas previous comic book films were B-movies. Getting it made was an adventure on its own. Director Richard Donner tells how that happened almost forty years ago. He struggled to get the script rewritten, struggled with producers over the budget, and struggled to cast an unknown as the Man of Steel. And there are plenty of anecdotes about the production.

Let me tell you a funny thing about Margot. When we were shooting, her makeup man comes to me and says: “We have a little problem. Margot scratched her eye putting her contacts in.” I said, “Do it without your contacts.” That day she was wonderful, because she was wide-eyed, with no depth perception. She walked into a desk — and she was the girl I wanted her to be. She said, “But I can't see!” There was a law after that: every morning people had to come to me and make sure she didn't have her contacts in, and that she would act without her contacts. It just made her wonderful.

Brando lived in L.A. and I had to go and meet him. I called Jay Kanter, who was a very powerful agent and studio executive, and I said, “Can you give me any hints?” And he said, “He's going to want play it like a green suitcase.” I said, “What does that mean?” “It means he hates to work and he loves money, so if he can talk fyou into the fact that the people on Krypton look like green suitcases and you only photograph green suitcases, he'll get paid just to do the voice-over. That’s the way his mind works.“ I said, “F—,” and then I called Francis Coppola. He said, “He’s brilliant. He's got a brilliant mind. But he loves to talk. Keep him talking, and he'll talk himself out of any problem.”

That’s just what happened, although working with Brando was as difficult as you’d expect. Read the rest of Donner’s account at the Hollywood Reporter. -via Metafilter

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