Brandon James Routh (born October 9, 1979) is an American actor and former fashion model. He grew up in Iowa before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, and subsequently appeared on several television series throughout the early 2000s. In 2005, he was cast as the titular hero of the 2006 film Superman Returns.
Routh, then 24, had previously already auditioned for director McG and was spotted by Singer after he viewed Routh's videotaped audition. Singer, who since noted Routh as being the embodiment of "our collective memory of Superman", was impressed by his resemblance to the comic book icon and found the actor's humble Mid-western roots perfect for the role, as well as his "combination of vulnerability and confidence" that Singer said reminded him of Christopher Reeve. Singer decided to cast Routh after the two met on August 13, 2004, but did not tell Routh until two months later, when Routh's casting was announced in October 2004, making him an "instant celebrity". Before filming began, Routh bulked-up for the role, gaining 22 pounds to reach approximately 215 pounds. Filming for Superman Returns began in Sydney in February 2005. The film was released in the U.S. on June 28, 2006 and was a box-office success, grossing $200 million in the US. Routh has already signed on to appear in two potential sequels to the film.
Routh has commented that he feared his performance would too closely resemble that of Christopher Reeve. Routh has said that he hopes to "remind people of Christopher while at the same time making them feel like they're seeing a totally new Superman". Reviews of Routh's performance were generally positive, with Newsweek noting that he "effortlessly lays claim to the iconic role". On the other hand, film critic Roger Ebert noted that he thinks "Routh lacks charisma as Superman, and I suppose as Clark Kent, he isn't supposed to have any".
At the 2006 Spike TV Awards, Brandon Routh won the award of "Best Superhero" as Superman in Superman Returns, beating out among others, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.