It’s hard to believe that it has been almost five years since Tyler Hoechlin made his first appearance as Superman in the Arrowverse. Since that initial guest appearance on Supergirl, Hoechlin’s Superman has become a staple of the wider DC TV universe, playing a central role in crossovers like Elseworlds and Crisis on Infinite Earths, and he’s about to headline Superman & Lois, the first Superman-dedicated show in a decade, and the first in 25 years to actually feature the title hero in costumed action.
But Hoechlin could have donned the red cape several years earlier, as he had auditioned for the title role in Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel film. While the role obviously went to Henry Cavill in the end, Hoechlin recently reflected on the experience of auditioning for a very different kind of Superman.
“I remember that audition more than almost any other and not because of the audition, not because of who the character was or anything like that,” Hoechlin says. “I remember getting those sides, and because of who the character was, I went into looking at those scenes with an idea of what it was either supposed to be or should feel like. And I remember looking at the pages and going, ‘my gut instinct is telling me something completely different than what I think they’re looking for.’ I just decided, ‘You know what? If this is what they’re wanting and hoping that I do in this scene, I’m going to do what my gut’s telling me. I’m going to commit to that.'”
Hoechlin doesn’t talk about the specifics of what it is the producers were looking for, or how different his interpretation of Superman would have been from what landed Cavill the role, but he has no regrets about how things turned out.
“I’d so much rather go in and not get a job for doing it the way that I felt instinctually I really wanted to play it than to go in and get that job,” Hoechlin says. “Because if you go into an audition and you’re just doing what you think they want to see and you get that job, well, that’s great. But now you’re going to spend, what, the next five months on set every single day going, ‘Well, what do they want to see today? What do they want to see tomorrow?'”
To this day, the actor sees that Man of Steel audition as a learning experience.
“That was just a perspective changing audition for me as far as how I approach work now,” Hoechlin says. “It’s not to say that you can’t be collaborative. I just think that if you’re honest with what your instincts are, you’re always going to find yourself in a better spot than if you’re just constantly trying to fit into a box of what you think someone might want, because you might even be wrong on that.”
Superman & Lois premieres on the CW on Feb. 23 at 8 pm, before moving to the 9 pm timeslot for episode 2 and beyond.