Actor Matt Bomer lost the role of Superman after he was outted as gay

Sep 17, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Matt Bomer arrives on the red carpet at the 69th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater.
Sep 17, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Matt Bomer arrives on the red carpet at the 69th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater. Photo: Dan MacMedan-USA TODAY

Matt Bomer says he lost the role of Superman in what would have been a big-screen revival of the character because he of his sexuality.

On the most recent episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, the Golden Globe and Peabody Award-winning actor joined host Scott Feinberg to discuss his career and his most recent role in Showtime’s Fellow Travelers, for which he is eligible for this year’s Emmy Awards consideration. During their conversation, Feinberg asked Bomer about a major opportunity that came his way early in his career while he was appearing on the CBS soap opera Guiding Light between 2001–2003.

“I went in on a cattle call for Superman, and then it turned into a four-month audition experience where I was auditioning again and again and again,” Bomer recalled. “It looked like I was the director’s choice for the role.”

According to Bomer, who was not out publicly at the time, the film would have been a “very early iteration of Superman” written by director J.J. Abrams titled Superman: Flyby.

Bomer went on to explain that Guiding Light’s executive producer wrote him off the show so that he would be free to take the Superman role if it came through, allowing him to sign a three-picture deal with Warner Bros.

“So, I guess I basically got fired, but in a generous way,” he said.

Feinberg noted that playing the iconic superhero in, at the time, the first major film adaptation of Superman since 1987 would have been life-changing for Bomer. But, as the host suggested, things went south when it came to light that Bomer was gay.

“Would this be the first time where your… what you were keeping private about yourself still at that time might have been, in a sense, used against you?”

“Yeah, that’s my understanding,” Bomer said. “That was a time in the industry when something like that could still really be weaponized against you. How, and why, and who [outed me], I don’t know.”

Abrams’s take on Superman never came together, and Bomer went on to land roles in 2005’s Flightplan alongside Jodie Foster, in NBC’s Chuck, and to star in USA’s White Collar. He received an Emmy nomination and won Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Television Awards for his role in Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of The Normal Heart in 2014 and has appeared in all three Magic Mike films. He came out publicly in 2012 while accepting the Steve Chase Humanitarian Award, thanking his partner and their children.

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