One hates to attach a given role to an actor, especially when that actor is a hell of a nice guy working to expand his career beyond the one which made him famous. But when Brandon Routh walks in the room, the fundaments of your brain still scream “holy shit, it’s Superman!” He looks the part right down to his socks, and his easy smile and gentle demeanor effortlessly evoke the Man of Steel. Routh is quite aware of the resemblance, and while you can feel the tension increase slightly when the subject comes up, he looks at his experience in the cape and tights with a lot of pride.
“As much as I’m working to shake it up,” he says, “I certainly don’t want to extinguish or get rid of it. Because it was a great honor, and I would love to be able to return as that character.”
In the meantime, however, Routh continues to work… though he hasn’t strayed too far from the world of comic books. He appears in Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World this Friday, playing one of the seven evil exes whom Scott must destroy. He’s also been tagged for the new Dylan Dog adaptation, following in the footsteps of the underrated Cemetery Man in bringing the Italian cult horror comic to light. Routh had only a few words about the latter project (“it’s a fun ride for sure, and we’re supposed to be hearing something in the next few months about a domestic release”), but one imagines his turn as the titular “nightmare investigator” may put Clark Kent more firmly in the rearview mirror.
Scott Pilgrim does a great deal in that regard as well. Routh portrays Todd Ingram, a bass guitarist playing back-up for Scott’s ex-girlfriend, whose smug vegan tendencies grant him all manner of superpowers. The sequence stands as one of the high points of the film--topped by a “bass off” between the two characters—which required Routh to learn to play the bass himself.
“I had a couple of teachers who I worked with in about three or four months to learn the one Metric song, ‘Black Sheep,’ and then the three little bass riffs. It took all of that time for me to get it down. The song was easy enough; the bass riffs, the last one was like octaves. I’m not going to sing it to you, but it was very challenging to get my hands to do that, and then not look at my hands while I’m doing it. And then they attached these--and they didn’t tell me this until I got to Toronto--these light contraptions, like Christmas lights, with a D-battery strapped into my armbands.”
The pacing of Scott Pilgrim demanded further adjustments, such as hitting specific blocking at specific points to keep up with all the editing and CG inserts which the film entails.
“Technical aspects were very key,” Routh explains. “Many times, you’d have to do something again. It’s a big set up, but because of all the effects that are involved, and wanting to match the comic book so well, that’s part of the job. You know that going in, and it’s because of that that the movie looks so polished and works so well.”
Despite the challenges, Routh says he doesn’t regret it for a moment.
“It was a lot of fun to play such a big character, and to play a character,” he smiles. “Learning to play the bass is easier than learning to fly.”