Dean Cain, star of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, talks about his appearance on Comic Book Men as the guest of honor at Superman’s 75th birthday party and his favorite version of Superman.
Q: Were you a Superman fan prior to Lois & Clark?
A: Well, I watched Super Friends as a kid and he was my favorite. He and Aquaman. I don’t know why Aquaman. But those were my two favorite superheroes.
Q: Were you into comic books growing up?
A: I didn’t really read comic books. It became much more so once I was cast as Superman. Actually, one of the first things I did with my son, when he was learning how to read was read him comic books. He loved looking at the art. He had seen the Superman stuff, so then we were looking at art work for something else and he liked it and took an interest and started reading the panels. So I just started getting him comic book after comic book. And now I can appreciate — as an adult, as a filmmaker, as an actor, and as a writer — seeing the way that these guys can craft these stories and create this art and give it a certain look and feel. It’s amazing!
Q: Who plays the best Superman aside from yourself?
A: Without a doubt, my favorite was always Christopher Reeve. He was my Superman, growing up. He was the one I identified with the character and was the first one I saw as a live Superman. I based my Superman on the way that Christopher Reeve played Superman. But, I’d say the Clark Kent side was much more George Reeves. He was much more of a manly man, he was a cool Clark Kent. I played that side more like that… having that ’50s style male-female banter with Teri Hatcher. And I have to say, I think Teri was the best Lois Lane ever!
Q: Kevin Smith credits you with revitalizing Superman, do you think the recent movies draw inspiration from your version of Superman?
A: Without taking credit, it’s amazing how many things I see played out in superhero movies, be it Superman or Spider-Man or whatever. I’m always like, “We did that. That’s something our relationship went through. That’s something we dealt with on our show.” Now granted, we did 88 hours. So in 88 hours, you’re going to do a lot of different material, with a lot of different scenarios. I don’t know that we influenced them, but I do see things pop up again, maybe with slight tweaks.
Q: You played a Superman villain in an episode of Smallville. What’s it like being the bad guy after playing the Man of Steel?
A: That was great fun. Tom Welling was such a nice guy. Big kid! He might get mad at me for telling this anecdote, but he can. We were doing this finale, having this fight scene. I was used to doing stuff with special effects, but it was interesting watching someone else act around the special effects. We were doing this one part, where we’re moving slowly and then he whips through and sort of super-speeds through the area. While we were rehearsing it, Tom was going, [makes loud whooshing noise]. I was like, “Tom, no. We don’t do the sound effects on the superpowers, bud.” We got a laugh out of that. It was my job as the super villain to put him in check.
Q: What made you decide to join the Secret Stash’s 75th birthday party for Superman?
A: I’m so honored to have played Superman. People always try to get away from roles that they’ve played. I’m completely thankful. It was a great role, a great way to start a career. Being linked to that character forever is an honor. So to go and help celebrate that — like I said, my appreciation for comics and that culture has grown so much since I played the character — so to be to be part of it and pay tribute to it and show it the respect that it deserves, was great fun. And I love what those guys do on the show. So that’s what it came down to.
Q: The guys from the Stash gave you a $100 gift certificate to the store. Have you used it yet?
A: Not yet, but I assume it’s still good. I hope I don’t come back and they’re like, “No, dude. That was just symbolic.” Symbolic, my tail. I want my $100 worth of stuff!
Q: During your appearance, you were also charged with cutting the cake…
A: I know. [Laughs] I didn’t realize I was the hired help too. But, hey, serving the Superman myth, I’ll cut the cake happily! Although, I made sure to keep a slice for myself on the side. I’m no fool.
Q: What’s your favorite memory of being on Comic Book Men?
A: I think seeing the surprised looks on everyone’s faces when I showed up. They were like, “Hey, that’s that dude that played Superman.” I enjoyed that.