Q&A With Superman Actor Dean Cain

Q&A With Superman Actor Dean Cain

9 Aug 2018

Dean Cain is still best known as the Man of Steel in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993-1997). Since the end of the show he has starred in a multitude of projects. From playing opposite Denzel Washington in Out of Time, hosting Ripley's Believe It or Not! and, most recently, Supergirl.

Andy McCarroll from “We Love Moves” (Sundays at 12) got to speak to the actor about everything from Superman to Conor McGregor.

You were the biggest star on TV at a time where there was a stigma that “TV actors” couldn’t be cast in movies. What do you think finally removed that stigma and did it frustrate you that you didn’t get big screen roles your status and indeed your talent deserved?

The entertainment industry has changed dramatically from 1993 to 2018.  With the advent of so many different channels, streaming services, VOD, etc… the entertainment landscape looks nothing like it did 25 years ago.  When I first became an actor, it was understood that you were either a “television” or a “film” actor.   There was no crossover.  My father, a prominent film director, broke that down for me quite early in my career.  I didn’t believe him then, and I still don’t!  Although I love and respect my father dearly, I never believed in only playing by the rules – and I have never let those “rules” define me, or my career.   I believe in changing the rules, if you can.

When I was cast as Superman, I was ecstatic that I had a job and could pay the rent.   At that same time, other “television” actors were starting to make the transition to film – Pierce Brosnan, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Jennifer Aniston…   Then it became almost the norm – transition from a successful television career to film.  Then it became “have a sex tape” or do reality television and get a shot at a film career.   My path was to be unique.  I had a son. 

My son, Christopher was born June 11, 2000.  Even before he arrived, I knew my life was going to change drastically.  Christopher’s mother and I were NOT going to get married, and unfortunately, this led to a courtroom battle over custody rights.   I wanted shared 50-50 custody.  She believed I should only get visitation, and every other weekend.  Having been adopted myself, I knew how important it was for me to have both a strong mother and a strong father figure in my life, and I was not going to deny that to my son.  After millions of dollars in lawyer fees (California law: I had to pay both sides), I was granted 50-50 custody.   Of course, there were many conditions.  In order to keep my custodial rights, I had to set conditions for myself and my work.  No starring roles in any series that was not an ensemble.  No films that shot for more than 3 weeks (with very few exceptions).  And no series that filmed outside of Los Angeles.  I have lived under and honored those conditions for the past 19 years, even though I assumed full custody of Christopher in about 2009. 

During this time, I chose to start a production company, and I produced and hosted RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT, which many industry folks told me would, “end my career.”  It didn’t.  It became the highest-rated series premiere in cable TV history, ran for 4 seasons, and proved very lucrative.  

While shooting this series and many others (including CLUBHOUSE, THE DIVISION, HIT THE FLOOR), and films (THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB, OUT OF TIME), I coached my son’s football, baseball, and basketball teams.  I rarely ever missed a practice or a game or a performance.  I drove him to school, picked him up, and was the playground monitor at lunchtime.   In other words, I was a dad.  And a proud dad.  It was a struggle, but I wouldn’t have done anything differently.

My son graduated High School in May.  It’s anyone’s guess what I’ll do next!

You played gay characters – in both The Broken Hearts Club and Best Men at a time when most on screen portrayals resorted to gay stereotypes. Were you concerned that audiences would reject the notion of “Superman being gay” and did you experience any backlash as a result of those roles?

As I stated earlier, I have never believed in defining myself by other people’s rules, and that thinking led directly to my playing the role of COLE in THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB.   The film was brilliantly written and directed by Greg Berlanti, and told the story of a group of gay young men in West Hollywood coming of age.  The script was so funny and so clever and so romantic, that I knew I had to play a part.  The producers didn’t want me for the role of Cole, and they weren’t paying anything for the film – but I wanted to be a part of it.

My agents cautioned me on playing a gay character.  Still, I fought to get an audition.  Reluctantly, they all agreed, and I won the role – it’s still one of my favorite roles in one of my favorite films of all time.

Playing a gay character in the late 1990’s was considered a very “risky” move for a straight man, but I never saw it that way.   Again, I never wanted to bow to anyone’s stereotypes, so I happily played gay characters in both THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB, and BEST MEN.  I wasn’t concerned at all that people would think of me as “Superman” playing a gay character – I just hoped they believed in my performances and accepted the characters for who they were.

I never recall experiencing any “backlash” for playing those roles, but I’m not exactly the type who would allow that change my decision-making.

You’re a big sports fan. Would you be tempted to make the move to sports casting like Mario Lopez and what sport do you think you could bring the most to? You pitched a clothing line with Uriah Faber on Shark Tank. Are you a big UFC fan and who do you pick in the McGregor Khabib fight?

I am a HUGE sports fan.  I love American Football, and mixed martial arts most of all.  I could literally sit down at any American Football game at any level and immediately begin broadcasting.  I have invested decades of my life, and lots of blood, sweat and tears into that game, and I know it like the back of my hand!  That would be an awesome job to have!   Although I know much less about mixed martial arts, I am a huge fan, and I cannot keep my mouth shut while watching.  I find myself  yelling at the screen or at the fighters constantly!  I would accept either job in a heartbeat! 

I know this is for Irish fans, and I’m not pandering -- because truth be told, I’m a massive Connor McGregor fan.  I love the unorthodox way he fights, his charisma and personality, and his heart inside the ring.  The man is a warrior.  The showmanship is also a ton of fun, because he can seriously back it up.  Connor’s speed and power at 155 lbs is just devastating.   I think McGregor beats Khabib with a stunning knockout – probably early in the fight.

An actor should “never work with animals or children.” You have been in 17 movies with both. Are you a glutton for punishment or do you just really want to steal Christmas?

I didn’t realize I have been in 17 films with children or animals!!  Well once again, here I am NOT following the rules!  I love children, and I love animals – especially dogs, so I’m happy to work with either!  I also love Christmas, so if I can combine all into one film – I’m in!

My love for Christmas probably stems from my deep love of family.  Christmas was always a time when my family was completely together, cramped into a too-small house or cabin, on top of one another, and general family chaos always ensued!  Christmas for me has always been a time of reflection and togetherness, and even magic!  Because of all of the above, I think Christmas is a specifically wonderful setting for telling stories – especially about love, family, and togetherness.

Actors speak about “raising their game” when they star with big name actors. What does entail when you work with someone like Denzel Washington?

Denzel Washington is probably my favorite actor of all time.  He makes every role seem so natural and effortless.  When I had the chance to work opposite him in OUT OF TIME, I was extremely excited and honored.   He had just won the Oscar for BEST ACTOR.  When you play tennis with someone who is better than you, you “up your game” or you get blown off the court.  Well it’s the same with acting.  When you work with one of the greatest actors of all time, you either up your game or you get blown off the screen.  I really enjoyed my performance opposite Denzel, and probably learned more about acting just watching Denzel work than during any other project in my life.   I still thank Denzel and Carl Franklin (the director) for that amazing opportunity and experience.

Christopher Reeve and yourself played Superman very much like he was in the comics. What do you make of the darker tone the movies have taken with the character

Christopher Reeve was MY Superman.  He made me believe a man could fly.  In fact, I based my version of Superman on Christopher Reeve’s performance.  His Clark Kent…not so much!  I liked the version of Clark Kent I was able to play on Lois and Clark.  In that sense, my Clark Kent was much more in line with the version played by George Reeves.  So I stole a little bit from both!

I'm not a fan of the more recent, darker world of Superman in the movies.  I think Henry Cavil does a great job, but the world he inhabits is one full of angst and darkness, and is almost completely devoid of both humor and romance.   I see Superman as a character of light and I personally want to see more humor and romance in that character. 

Comic Book adaptations are hotter than ever and in the era of Netflix has it ever crossed your mind to write a version of Lois and Clark 25 years on?  If so what would your take on that look like?

I started my career as a screenwriter and have written many, many screenplays.  I wrote a few episodes of Lois and Clark, and would LOVE to see what Lois and Clark are doing 22 years down the road!  In fact, I have started writing a synopsis of what that might look like!   They would still be happily married, though not without trials and tribulations – and they would have a couple of kids (yep, they would have figured out how to do that!), which would present them with boundless opportunities for adventure and trouble!   But that’s all I am willing to share for now!

Where do you see the next stage of your career going on TV, Big screen or would you follow your fathers lead and step behind the camera?

As for the next stage of my career, I am going to continue to break all the rules!   I have filmed at least 4 films this year as an actor.  I recently produced a documentary film about the Armenian Genocide called, ARCHITECTS OF DENIAL – and lobbied the US Congress to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide (we have not to date).   I am currently producing another documentary called HATE AMONG US, about the alarming rise in anti-Semitism in the world, and the large amount of Holocaust Deniers who are growing louder and louder.   I have completed several scripts recently, and am hoping to produce and possibly direct some of them in the near future.   I will continue acting for sure!  I co-host the TODAY SHOW quite often, and also sometimes co-host FOX AND FRIENDS WEEKEND for Fox News.  I have been approached to enter politics.  I was just recently sworn-in as a Reserve Police Officer, and serve on a task force to help children (anti-suicide, online predators, anti-bullying, etc…).

In short, I have no idea what I’ll be doing in the next 5 years – but I know I’ll be working hard, and having fun!

Dean will appear at Dublin Comic Con in The Convention Centre Dublin from Friday August 10th to Sunday the 12th. 

Andy McCarroll “We Love Movies” Sundays at 12 pm