There are plenty of heroes whose careers are defined by specific movies. From Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman to Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, Hollywood is filled with stars who are always associated with that one movie despite many acting credits. However, only a few gems in the industry can claim to have defined their roles. In that regard, Christopher Reeve’s name comes first to the mind.
Superman has been brought to life on the big screen and television by countless actors, but Reeve remains the fan-favorite Clark Kent and his portrayal is viewed as a benchmark to this day, leading to every actor who ever dons the Red cape being compared to him. But with great power comes great responsibility and repercussions. The iconic actor’s stint as Kal-El impacted his decision concerning other roles.
How Christopher Reeve’s Decision to Turn Down a Role Transformed Richard Gere’s Career
Christopher Reeve rose to stardom after his first performance as the DC Comics legendary superhero in the 1978 hit Superman. His on-screen action as the son of scientist Jor-El didn’t just stop with one film. In total, he went on to star in four Superman movies.
The connection he built with the role also supposedly made him conscious of not taking any roles that might influence how people perceive his best-known character. Further, the popularity of Superman also impacted the decision-making of some producers. He recalled in his memoir, Still Me, “some producers would not cast me because I had played Superman, others cast me because I had.”
One of the most prominent movies that Reeve turned down was, American Gigolo. He was offered a paycheck of $1 million to lead the 1980 crime mystery (via IMDb). But the star actor couldn’t accept the offer as he wanted time to prepare (via MovieMaker).
The role eventually went to the relatively less famous actor, Richard Gere. American Gigolo became a big success, both critically and financially, and established Gere as a s-x symbol of the 80s.
Richard Gere Went on to Snatch a Huge Role From Christopher Reeve
Almost a decade later, plans for Pretty Woman were being drawn up, and it’s understood Reeve was keen to lead the project. The Superman star even auditioned for the part of rich entrepreneur Edward Lewis, who falls for Vivian (Julia Roberts), a prostitute.
However, the producers eventually went on to cast Gere. As we all know, Pretty Woman went on to become a huge hit at the box office and is now considered one of the best romantic comedies of all time.
Reeve went on to star in multiple movies and television series before his acting career abruptly ended following an accident in 1995. After being thrown from a horse he was paralyzed from the shoulders down. The legendary actor passed away in 2004, but he is still fondly remembered for making millions fall in love with Superman.