Brandon James Routh (born October 9, 1979) is an American actor and former fashion model. He grew up in Iowa before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, and subsequently appeared on multiple television series throughout the early 2000s. In 2006, he earned fame for his role as the titular hero of the 2006 film Superman Returns. Following this, he has had several supporting roles in television and film. More recently, he portrays the eponymous protagonist of another comic book film, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night.
Routh, the third of four children, was born in Norwalk, Iowa, on October 9, 1979, the son of Catherine (née Lear), a teacher, and Ronald Ray Routh, a carpenter. Routh's family, which is Methodist, has German, French, English, and Native American ancestry. Routh grew up in Norwalk, approximately 100 miles (160 km) south of Woolstock, the hometown of George Reeves, the first actor to play Superman on television. During his childhood, Routh thought a full-time acting career was unrealistic, citing his small-town background. In his spare time, he played the trumpet and the piano. Routh attended Norwalk High School, where he played sports and participated in music and theatre. He has described himself as a "momma's boy" and not "the most popular kid" during his school years. Routh has also noted that during his younger years, he was fond of the Superman films and comic books.
Routh attended the University of Iowa for a year, aspiring to be a writer. During this time, he modelled and acted in order to earn his tuition fee. Routh has said he was often told that he bore a physical resemblance to Christopher Reeve, who had previously portrayed Superman. His former manager signed him on because of the resemblance, telling him that he thought Routh would be cast as Superman if there was another film in the series.