Nicholas Hoult on Becoming the New Lex Luthor in James Gunn’s “Superman”

Nicholas Hoult has revealed a bit about what it was like to audition for James Gunn’s upcoming Superman, the first movie to be released by Gunn and Peter Safran’s new DC Studios.

Hoult initially auditioned for the role of Superman himself, becoming one of the last three actors on Gunn’s list, alongside Tom Brittney and David Corenswet. The role ultimately went to Corenswet, who will star alongside Rachel Brosnahan as Lois Lane. Hoult eventually nabbed the role of iconic Superman nemesis Lex Luthor, which might actually be more fun to play (aren’t the villains always more fun to play?) While Gunn has been keeping us posted about Superman with steady updates (including the fact that, on day one of filming, he revealed he’d changed the film’s title to Superman from Superman: Legacy), the performers haven’t revealed all that much about the audition process—untill now.

Hoult went on the Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum podcast to discuss his career and revealed some good tidbits about auditioning for Superman. One of the first things Hoult mentioned was that it was actually Rosenbaum, not Gene Hackman, who he first saw playing Luthor. Rosenbaum played the legendary villain in WB’s Smallville for a whopping 154 episodes; that was the Luthor that Hoult grew up with.

“The first ever Lex I saw was you. Yeah, I grew up, Smallville was on,” Hoult said. “That was the show I would watch and see my first iterations of Superman and Lex and all those stories. I’ve since seen Richard Donner’s movies and all the other ones and kind of seen some of the other performances but you’re like the one…it’s the best.”

The Richard Donner movies, beginning with 1978’s game-changing Superman, cemented Christopher Reeve, who played Clark Kent/Superman, as a star. It also burnished Gene Hackman’s already robust legend thanks to his stellar performance as the shameless, ruthless Luthor.

When Hoult auditioned for Gunn, he said the writer/director created a lively space.

“[He has the] ability to keep things fun and alive and try things in the moment and be like, just shouting out from the monitors, ‘Say this line. Do this! Do that!’ And that’s something that I really enjoy,” Hoult said. “That’s the whole process of prep for me is like, be prepared as possible so when you get there you can throw it all away and do whatever you want in the moment.”

And while it’s Superman who’s the Man of Steel, Hoult said his Lex Luthor will be no slouch in the strength department.

“There’s that bit in “All-Star Superman” [a comic book series] where he talks about his muscles being real and hard work and all that,” Hoult said. “I kind of took that as a little bit of fuel for the fire.”

We won’t see what kind of fire Hoult’s Luthor brings to Superman for a bit—the film is slated for theaters on July 11, 2025.

For more on Superman, check out these stories:

The Daily Planet Gets a New Boss: Wendell Pierce Joins James Gunn’s “Superman”

James Gunn Reveals New Title For “Superman: Legacy” on First Day of Filming

James Gunn Reveals First “Superman: Legacy” Cast Photo With Filming Beginning Next Week

James Gunn Teases “Superman: Legacy” Set in Photo With “Peacemaker” Cast

Featured image: LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 09: Nicholas Hoult attends “The Menu” UK Premiere at BFI Southbank on November 09, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)


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