Having bought two tickets months ago, I was supposed to attend the screening with my sister, however she had to cancel at the last minute, so I took my Uncle Michael along in her place. More on that in a moment…
We entered the foyer of the historic theatre, and immediately to our left was a table set up at which Sarah Douglas and Marc McClure were sitting. We were about 40 minutes early for the screening, and there were only a few people milling about, with nobody currently lining up or at the table. My uncle remarked how he was a bit star-struck. As we walked closer to the table Marc McClure got up to stretch his legs and wander around, I grabbed his attention, introduced myself, mentioning the Superman Homepage, and he immediately responded with recognition. We spoke briefly about fan websites, he mentioned Jim Bowers’ wonderful CapedWonder.com. We spoke about his role in “Smallville”, and he mentioned Jack Larson’s turn as Jimmy Olsen in the 1950s “Adventures of Superman” TV series. I related how I’d been lucky enough to sit and talk to Jack at length when he was in Sydney in 2005 filming “Superman Returns”. Marc and I posed for a photo together, which was photo-bombed by Sarah Douglas.
I introduced myself to Sarah then as well. The two of us have shared emails and Tweets over the years, and so it was really nice to finally meet her in person. She remarked on how popular the Superman Homepage was, and it was at this point that I mentioned to her that my uncle was the one who kind of started me on the path to being a Superman fan. It was in 1981 that my uncle took a group of his nieces and nephews to see “Superman II” in the theatre… and here I was, 35 years later, returning the favor. The way it had worked out, we’d come full circle. Sarah was quite taken by the story. As we continued to chat we somehow mentioned Noel Neill and her passing. I mentioned the upcoming public memorial, and Sarah was disappointed that she’d be unable to attend (due to scheduling issues), and asked me if I’d record a video message from her to pass on to Larry Ward to be played at the memorial. We found a quiet corridor in the theatre, and recorded a video message from Sarah Douglas about Noel Neill. I felt quite honored to be able to help out.
As more people entered the theatre foyer, my uncle and I decided to go find our seats. Before too long the moderators took to the microphones, welcomed everyone, and introduced Sarah and Marc to the stage. For the next 45 minutes we were entertained with stories from their careers, how they’d been cast in their roles for the Superman films, and their thoughts on various other subjects.
It was interesting to hear Marc talk about how the role of Jimmy Olsen came about for him. He was living on a house boat at the time, and a woman he knew from his mother’s hair salon suggested he go meet with Richard Donner. He did, they spoke mostly about house boats, and then as he was about to walk out of the meeting Richard Donner asked him if he knew who Jimmy Olsen was, to which Marc responded, “Golly Gee Mr Kent”. And that was that.
Sarah Douglas on the other hand had a fairly different story. She’d been working on a film in the Canary Islands called “The People that Time Forgot” (working with “cardboard dinosaurs” as she put it) when she was informed that there was a role in the upcoming Superman movies that the filmmakers wanted to meet her about. Her meeting with Richard Donner was cancelled and rescheduled a number of times, much to her frustration, so that when she finally was able to meet with him she was a little put out and went in with “attitude”. During the physical audition she performed a high kick, which apparently impressed (or scared) Richard Donner… and the role of Ursa was hers.
Sarah Douglas also spoke about the thrill of working with Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman, while Marc discussed the issues surrounding making “Superman: The Movie” and “Superman II” simultaneously, and spoke about the drama of having Richard Donner sacked to be replaced by Richard Lester.
It was at this point that it was revealed that instead of screening the original theatrical cut of “Superman II” as promoted, we would instead be treated to the first Australian theatre screening of “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut”. Marc and Sarah spoke about the differenced between the two directors, both agreeing they preferred Donner.
There were other stories shared, with Marc giving his opinion on the recent Superman films (he thinks they’ve made them too dark and serious), Sarah talking about being the poster girl for promoting “Superman II” (because Warner Bros. knew she wouldn’t say anything controversial about the removal of Donner), and both also answered a few questions from the audience.
I had my hand up initially when they asked for questions from the audience. But time went by and I’d given up on them coming to me… but just as they were finishing up for the Q&A portion of the evening one of the moderators decided to come to me for the final question of the night.
I began by commenting that it’s almost a tradition in Superman films and TV shows that actors from past incarnations be invited to make a cameo appearance or have a minor role in new versions of the Superman story. I remarked on how Marc McClure, after having played Jimmy Olsen in the four Christopher Reeve films and the Helen Slater “Supergirl” movie, had played the role of Dax-Ur in Season 7 of “Smallville”.
My question therefore was to ask either of them if they’d been approached to be involved in any of the recent Superman films, or perhaps even the current “Supergirl” TV series.
Sarah reminded everyone that she’d voiced the role of Mala on an episode of “Superman: The Animated Series”, a character not too far removed from her role as Ursa in “Superman: The Movie” and “Superman II”. “But with a skinny waist and blonde hair”, she remarked.
Marc McClure revealed that he was involved in the upcoming NBC TV series “Powerless” starring Vanessa Hudgens, which is set in the DC Universe, and would actually have a recurring role in that series.
He then remarked quite cryptically that he would be appearing in a movie to be released at the end of 2017… I had no doubt that he was referring to the upcoming “Justice League” film, which will be released in November 2017.
It was time to screen the movie… “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut”.
The majority of the audience in attendance, includig my uncle, had never seen this version of the film. From their reactions throughout the movie, I could tell they enjoyed it. It’s interesting watching a film you’ve seen a number of times before… but this time in a theatre environment. There was lots of laughter, clapping, and chearing.
My uncle and I spoke about the film the whole way home, discussing the new scenes, the differences between the two different versions. He definitely preferred the Donner cut, saying it felt like a more well rounded story. All in all it was a great night.