The Incredibly Painful Toll ‘Superman IV’ Exacted on Jon Cryer
Long before the emergence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the dominant movie movement in Hollywood, superhero movies were campy (or crappy) popcorn flicks that emulated the over-the-top dramatics of the source material. However, nowhere in the entire Superman anthology will superfans find a comic book chapter centered around Lenny Luthor, the faux-hawk-sporting, convertible-driving, totally tubular nephew of the Man of Steel’s archnemesis Lex Luthor who plays a prominent role in Superman IV. No, this forgotten henchman only appeared in the fourth film featuring Christopher Reeve as Kal-El, and Lenny Luthor was played by future sitcom superstar Cryer, whose biggest regret regarding Superman IV was the way he prepared for his flying stunts. Mine would be the movie’s existence.
On last night’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, Cryer explained how, in order to ensure that his flying harness would secure him without difficulties, he applied the hair removal cream Nair to his entire nether regions, “front and back.” It’s too bad the screenwriters of Superman IV didn’t have to undergo such an exercise — maybe Nair would have dissolved the script they pulled out of there.
When Cryer joined the filming of Superman IV in 1986, he was only 21 and young enough to make some rookie mistakes. “There’s a lot of flying in Superman IV, it’s a Superman movie,” Cryer told Meyers, “and I was so excited about that.” Cryer said that, when he met with the film’s stunt coordinator, the man had some unorthodox suggestions for the inexperienced actor. “He says, ‘One thing you have to be aware of … is that, when they put the harness on you, they have to cinch it incredibly tight, so it will catch any hair that you have on there.’”
“You may want to take care of any hair you have, either on the back or on the front, either way, so that it doesn’t catch in the harness,” the coordinator told Cryer. “Nair came into play,” the actor admitted, saying that the hair removal cream left him “smooth as glass” and ready for shooting. However, Cryer continued, “What I did not realize was that the painful stuff is delayed because, what I learned is when your butt hair grows back it hurts!”
Decades later, Cryer graduated from nephew to uncle when he played Lex Luthor in the CBS/CW Supergirl TV series. Cryer quickly gathered from the newest generation of superhero actors that his painfully learned lesson about flying stunts may have been for naught, saying of a conversation he had with series star Melissa Benoist, “The first day of work, I said, ‘Hey, I know we’re going to be doing some flying stuff, do we still have to do that?’ She said, ‘No!’”
Cryer realized of the advice he received 30 years prior, “This guy was clearly pulling a prank.”