This interview was published in 2012.
Brandon Routh is Superman, and not because he played the character in 2006, but because the dude just seems to have it all figured out—everything from the whole Hollywood thing to staying in shape and feeling great.
We caught up with the star for his training, diet, and life-conquering secrets. Plus, what we expect to see from his character on CW’s Arrow.
MEN’S JOURNAL: Can we talk fitness? You’re super into it, right?
BRANDON ROUTH: Oh yes, absolutely, and I was always an athlete growing up. I played basketball and baseball but I also played soccer and swam. I played basketball a lot and when I got to L.A. I played charity soccer games, but when I acted I got into weightlifting and that type of stuff. And I also got into nutrition.
MJ: You seemed like an “endurance guy” but got into lifting? Can you tell me about that?
BR: It was kind of awesome because when I first trained for Superman, I had not lifted heavy weights, really. I had a trainer and it really never was like, “oh I’m gonna go to the gym,’ and I’d go and work out once and never come back. I never had education about it. So, my body was really kind of ready for it, because there’s a saying anyway: When you’re new to it your body really can put on a lot more muscle easier the first time. That was the case for me, you know, having good nutrition as well as supplementation and a lot of time in the gym. I put on 20 to 25 pounds in about five to six months leading up.
MJ: That’s significant. That’s a lot of weight.
BR: My body responded very well to lifting heavy weights and lots of egg whites and chicken. I’m not sure I would put on mass the same way now knowing the things I know now about nutrition, I follow more of a Paleo bulletproof style. It would be a much more gentle approach now, and my body would appreciate it.
MJ: You’re a bit leaner now right?
BR: I’m leaner now. I was between 220 and 225 (pounds). Now, I’m about 210 and 212, but roughly around the same amount of muscle mass, give or take. I just lost a little bit of inner fat—the vascular fat. The skinny fat that you can’t see but you can see it in there.
MJ: That’s a good place to be.
BR: Yeah, I’ve been good. A year ago I switched my style of eating—so that’s all I talk about nowadays. It’s been just an amazing way to lose weight, have a tremendous amount of energy every day, and maintain without fluctuating.
MJ: What does a typical day look like?
BR: Are you familiar with bulletproof coffee?
MJ: I heard you say Paleo…
BR: So, bulletproof coffee is a coffee blended with grass-fed butter and coconut oil.
MJ: Hmm. Interesting.
BR: So I’m having 500 to 600 calories of fat blended in my coffee every morning—the whole idea of this way of eating is that fat is not our enemy. Good fat, especially good-quality fat, is not our enemy. In fact it’s very powerful in overall energy for the body and brain; for cognition, function, and focus; and also in fat metabolism. It helps regulate hormones. It tells us that we’re full. There’s all of these amazing things, but we live in a society that’s been largely living under the idea that fat is bad for us. High fat, low carb, moderate protein. Most of my calories come from fat, then protein, then carbs.
MJ: Does that keep you lean and keep the muscle on.
BR: I never lost weight before I started doing this, I lost, like, 20 pounds doing no cardio, just lifting heavy weights twice a week and started having bulletproof coffee every morning and just dropping most grains and adding veggies–it’s the most satiating diet plan I’ve ever been on and it cuts the sugar craving.
MJ: You just gave out the whole secret to dieting in 30 seconds.
BR: For me, the magic is right there. I think for me it’s gonna stay.
MJ: I’m glad to hear it has worked for you.
MJ: So careerwise, is it true you didn’t think being an actor was possible for you?
BR: Yes, I think what I was saying was that I didn’t think it was possible. How could a kid from a small town in Iowa become an actor? I’m very far away and I know nothing about Hollywood and business and I’ve never taken a real acting class or (went to acting) school. But my parents are both musicians and I was always performing, whether it was marching band, jazz band, school choir, show choir, plays, musical theater, and so, I had that thought, but then never thought it would be possible. And when I went to the University of Iowa—I’m a proud Hawkeye—it was that course of going to college that I looked into some of the suggestions of some friends and looked into modeling and acting for local commercials just to make money as a college student. And the agency I went to originally then said, “Hey, there’s this showcase in New York. Here’s a place you could go to and you could really be successful,” and I was like, “OK, I’ll give it a shot.” That kind of opened up.
MJ: And now you are where you are.
BR: And now, 14, 15 years later, here I am.
MJ: You’re the man. That’s great. Would you just accredit that to being positive, head down, grinding out the work and just trying to make things happen?
BR: I would say yes, absolutely. Hard work is important—but not stressing about hard work and just making it as fun as you can and enjoying the process of hard work is what I would say, but hard work is definitely—whatever that means to you, is definitely important. Being dedicated and following through is important I’ve found in my life, and just being open to suggestions of other people—being open to walking through doors that you might be scared of. So it’s kind of facing some fears and just peeking around the corner and seeing. For most of these things you can say, “Oh, that isn’t for me,” or “That is for me.” If you don’t get your foot in the water, you’ll never know.
MJ: How would you compare your role as Superman to your new role as Ray Palmer on Arrow?
BR: The human part of Clark Kent versus Ray Palmer, whereas Clark is very much kind of introverted, Palmer is definitely an extrovert. So he’s (Palmer) very much more energetic, but they’re similar in their nerdiness. Clark is kind of nerdy and goofy, versus Ray, who is a nerd about technology and gets really excited and passionate about the new tech and all.
MJ: Who do/did you like playing better?
BR: I mean, Clark is my first love and a great character to play but I am honestly having a fantastic time playing Ray Palmer as well because I get to be funny in both and kind of get to bring out that quality which is something I really enjoy being able to do almost everyday so far.
MJ: Any challenges playing this new role?
BR: Challenges…I would say, I have to speak very quickly and not do a lot of stuttering, with Clark I can kind of do some of that, but with Ray he’s kind of a mile a minute and I just have to learn some techie jargon and I’ve actually embraced the challenge but I have to make sure that I’m enunciating very well.
MJ: What can we expect to see from your character in Season 3?
BR: I think Ray’s kind of brought into to show us a bit of a mysterious figure—we don’t know what his plans are for Queen Consolidated or his plans for Felicity Smoak but except that he wants her to be an employee and it’s hard to make that happen—so there’s a lot of mystery shrouding him. Does he have good intent? How does he sort of fold into the rest of the story? I’m kind of really enjoying just learning what it is fleshing out the character and seeing the other interactions of the character in the show so far and developing my own storyline and I’m glad I have the chance to show people how it comes together.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!