American superheroes missing in Hollywood

Wed Feb 2, 2011 5:32pm EST
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By Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In the late 1970s, David Prowse, the imposing actor who physically portrayed Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, was told he couldn't audition for the role of Superman when Richard Donner was casting his now-classic film. The reason? Prowse was not an American.

How times have changed.

British actor Henry Cavill, who has just been cast as the iconic -- and very American -- Superman, is the latest in a string of foreigners who have been chosen to play key movie roles by Hollywood. But since Superman is so quintessentially American, this latest casting has triggered a wave of soul-searching as yet another sought-after part has been outsourced.

"This casting is fundamentally anti-American," wrote one commentator on Ain't It Cool News. "It's disgusting casting to the highest degree, and I will never ever see a movie with a Brit as Superman."

But British, as well as Australian and Canadian actors, appear to have cornered the market on most of the leading action roles in the Hollywood movies that will be rolling out this year and next. They will be portraying the kind of caped crusaders and take-charge guys that once belonged to men bearing the "Made in the USA" label.

Andrew Garfield, raised in Britain, is portraying Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and Brit Christian Bale is about to start his third Batman movie. Australian Chris Hemsworth will be seen as Thor this summer, following in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Hugh Jackman (prepping for a new outing as Wolverine) and Eric Bana (who played Bruce Banner in Ang Lee's Hulk). Not to be left out, Canada is represented by Ryan Reynolds, who will patrol space sector 2814 as the Green Lantern.

Australia's Sam Worthington has claimed the lead in movies ranging from "Terminator: Salvation" to "Avatar" to "Clash of the Titans." And the casting of British actor Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in the upcoming Steven Spielberg biopic could cause a crisis of confidence among American actors.

A similar invasion is occurring in TV, with lead roles in AMC's comic book adaptation "The Walking Dead," NBC's superhero show "The Cape" and ABC's medical drama "Off the Map" all going to non-Americans.   Continued...