Show Business: Here Comes Superman!!!

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Getting Brando to walk, however, was nothing compared with getting Superman to fly. There was simply no movie precedent for Superman's maneuvers in the air. Donner and his technicians devised several ways to fool the audience. For long swooping flights, tracks were embedded into the stage ceiling, and Reeve was pulled along by wires, painted to make them invisible against the background. For closeups, Reeve was hung on a horizontal pole that lay against his spine. For quick trips, plaster casts were made of Reeve's body and then shot out of a circus cannon.

To learn to fly, or rather look as if he were flying, Reeve, 25, spent ten weeks working out on trampolines, practicing his takeoffs and landings. "I worked on my landings based on what I had seen in the comic books," he says. "Superman usually came in sideways the way a hockey player stops. But if you land from 75 yards in the air, it takes some practice. You come in at about the same speed as a parachute jumper." Takeoffs were different, and when the wires began to pull, Reeve leaped with them. "I wanted to convey the feeling that Superman was slightly dull on the ground, like a fish out of water. But as soon as he took off, he was at home." So confident was Reeve of his ability that at times, he admits, "I felt invincible."

Reeve came by the square Superman jaw and his 6 ft. 4 in. naturally, but he had to work for the rest. Donner thought that he was too thin, and so for two hours every day Reeve lifted weights. That, coupled with four meals a day, added 20 Ibs. to his weight and 2 in. each to his arms and chest. He has to look like Superman, of course, but he must behave like both Superman and Clark Kent. The easy authority with which Reeve handles this double role is the real surprise of the picture. "I used both sides of my personality," he says. "Superman was me when I am most open, relaxed, friendly, poised and unselfconscious. When I played Clark Kent, I went to the other side of my character, the nervous, shy, clumsy, insecure guy who two years ago was trying to get a job and three years ago was trying to pick up a girl, neither with any success."

Though he was virtually unknown, except to fans of the soap opera Love of Life, Reeve was treated like a star from the beginning. He received $250,000 for the role. For the projected sequel he will get more, perhaps much more. "If the first one hits the roof, who knows?" says Ilya Salkind, in a rare burst of optimism.

In fact, much of Superman II, which will be released in the summer of 1980, has already been shot. Estimates on just how much vary, but at least 60%, and perhaps as much as 85%, is now on film. Three Kryptonite villains, who, like Superman, are survivors of the doomed planet, have major parts in it. Also, Superman and Lois Lane go to bed together, in a PG sort of way.

"When we start making love, I am supposed to say, 'Oh, Superman! Oh, Superman!' " giggles Kidder. "Chevy Chase told me to say, 'Oh, Superman! Oh, Super, pooper, dooper, man!'" But then what does that leave for Superman III, IV, V, and VI?

All of which Reeve is already optioned to play in and which will take him to about the year 2000, or 2001?

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