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In the 1990s, the most iconic TV Superman was Dean Cain as star of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. In fact, Cain and Teri Hatcher became the definitive versions of Clark Kent and Lois Lane for a generation of television viewers. As it turns out, however, the role of Clark Kent very nearly went to a different actor. Kevin Sorbo of Hercules: The Legendary Journey evidently came close to playing the Man of Steel, and he has now explained what happened, saying this:
Way back in 1993, I actually booked Lois and Clark, and 24 hours later they canceled me and put in Dean Cain. But three months later, I got Hercules, so I was okay with it.
Back in 1993, nobody could have known that Lois and Clark would become the pop culture sensation that it did, but it still had to sting at the time for Kevin Sorbo to come so close to playing Superman. Missing out on getting a job is one thing; getting the axe from a job before it even starts is another. Luckily, Kevin Sorbo doesn't seem bitter about losing Lois and Clark. He certainly did well for himself on Hercules.
Hercules would eventually run for six seasons, air more than 100 episodes, and spawn the successful spinoff Xena: Warrior Princess. Given that Lois and Clark only ran for four seasons and 87 episodes, I'd say that Kevin Sorbo was actually lucky to lose the role of Clark Kent. He still got a big break on the small screen, and it lasted longer.
I have to wonder if Dean Cain edged out Kevin Sorbo for Lois and Clark based on his looks. Sorbo definitely knows how to bring the smolder, and he had plenty of dreamy moments as Hercules, but he doesn't look like the dark-haired Superman who has been featured in comics and movies for many years. He works as a mythological hero; he might not have worked as well with existing Superman fans if he had played Clark Kent. Dean Cain clearly had the acting chops to play Superman and he had the traditional Clark Kent look. All things considered, I would say that both men landed perfect parts for themselves.
Interestingly, Kevin Sorbo will soon appear on another superhero show that has featured Dean Cain. He's set to appear in The CW's Supergirl for a guest run of three episodes, according to ET. Sorbo will portray the husband of the villainess played by Teri Hatcher, who appeared as leading lady Lois Lane on Lois and Clark. Dean Cain drops in on Supergirl every once in a while to play Kara Danvers' foster dad. Who knows? Maybe Supergirl can somehow work in a scene that puts Kevin Sorbo, Dean Cain, and Teri Hatcher together in a room. I'd certainly watch that.
Tune in to The CW on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET to catch new episodes of Supergirl and see what happens to lead up to Kevin Sorbo's debut, and don't forget to take a look at our midseason TV premiere schedule.