LOS ANGELES — Laurence Fishburne is going to Metropolis. The Oscar-nominated actor will join the cast of “Man of Steel” in the role of Perry White, the abrasive, ever-ethical old-school newsman who lords over the newsroom of the Daily Planet.
Fishburne is the first African American to take on the role in any of the many film, television and cartoon versions of Superman’s adventures. Last year was the 70th anniversary of the newsroom character, who first appeared on “The Adventures of Superman” radio serial and then a few months later made his on-the-page box in the seventh issue of “Superman.”
Fishburne, whose credits include “The Matrix,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Mystic River,” has just left the cast of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” after 2 ½ seasons as Dr. Raymond Langston. He celebrated his 50th birthday last week and will soon be on his way to the Venice Film festival for “Contagion,” the Steven Soderbergh pandemic thriller that also stars Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet and Jude Law.
“Man of Steel,” now scheduled for 2013, will be directed by Zack Snyder and the producing team includes Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas from the Gotham City films that many observers rank as the pinnacle of superhero cinema. Henry Cavill will play Superman and Amy Adams will star as Lois Lane. The other stars include Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and Diane Lane as Martha Kent.
Jackie Cooper portrayed White in Richard Donner’s “Superman” in 1978 and also in three of its sequels. Frank Langella took on the role in “Superman Returns” in 2006. In the 1950s, John Hamilton memorably played the crusty White on television and radio — and his exasperated shouts of “Great Caesar’s ghost!” and “Don’t call me ‘chief’!” became trademark lines that would find their way into the comic book portrayals of White as well.