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In a development that mirrors Marlon Brando’s 1978 cameo, Variety reports that Warner Bros. is in negotiations with temperamental Oscar winner Russell Crowe to play Superman’s biological father Jor-El in Man of Steel.
He would join Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner and Michael Shannon in the Zack Snyder-directed franchise reboot, set for release in December 2012. Warner Bros. had no comment.
Brando famously portrayed Jor-El, the Kryptonian scientist for foresaw his planet’s destruction, in Superman and Superman II — the footage was cut from the sequel but restored in the The Richard Donner Cut — and again in Superman Returns, two years after the actor’s death, thanks to video archives and sound-clip outtakes.
The trade paper contends it’s been the plan of producer Christopher Nolan from the start to find an A-list actor for the role, which seems likely enough, given the caliber of the rest of the cast (with the exception of Cavill, all are Academy Award winners or nominees).
The 47-year-old Crowe has been nominated four times for an Oscar, winning in 2001 for Gladiator. Curiously, word circulated earlier this morning that his Gladiator co-star Connie Nielsen has been offered the part of Lara, Superman’s biological mother.
Man of Steel is written by David S. Goyer from a story by Goyer and Nolan. Charles Rovan, Emma Thomas and Deborah Snyder also are producing. Thomas Tull and Lloyd Phillips are executive producers. Filming is expected to begin next month.